Chamath Palihapitiya is a household name — at least in the type of homes featured in The Wall Street Journal’s weekly “Mansion” section.
Born in Sri Lanka in 1976, he immigrated to Canada with his family at the age of five. At the tender age of 28, he became vice president of AOL in California. A year later, he moved to a promising new startup called Facebook. Today he’s a billionaire venture capitalist who shares his home with an Italian heiress and a model.
good for him And good for us to be reminded that America remains a land of opportunity, not least for people of color and immigrants. But he’s in the news this month for a different reason.
In a podcast he co-hosts, he commented on what the US government and others (e.g. Britain and the French parliament just a few days ago) called “genocide” against the Uyghurs, a Turkish and Muslim people in Xinjiang, have acknowledged. a Central Asian country ruled by Beijing.
“Nobody cares what happens to the Uyghurs, okay?” Mr Palihapitiya told his co-host. “You mention it because you really care, and I think it’s nice that you really care. The rest of us don’t care.”
A little historical context: After World War II and the Holocaust, world leaders swore that in the new international order they were constructing, genocide, the most heinous of crimes, would be prevented or otherwise punished.
The Genocide Convention was the first human rights treaty of the UN General Assembly. Adopted 71 years ago this month, it “signified the commitment of the international community to ‘never again'” and, according to an official UN declaration, has been made a norm of “customary international law and therefore binding on all States”.
Despite this, genocides have been committed in Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda and Darfur. More than 500,000 Syrians have been killed and more than 12 million displaced in what the US Holocaust Museum calls “a decade of crimes against humanity.” In all of these cases, the UN and the “international community” have reacted ruthlessly.
This pattern continues. It is believed that more than a million Uyghurs are being held in “re-education” camps and prisons. Others are reportedly subjected to forced labour, with women being tortured, sexually abused and forcibly sterilized. China’s rulers are also strangling Tibet’s unique culture and religion.
Not only Hollywood moguls, superstar athletes like LeBron James and titans of capitalism like Mr. Palihapitiya doesn’t care, but they also benefit from business ties with Beijing. Yet they have the chutzpah to present themselves as advocates of “social justice.”
Two anniversaries make these topics even more topical. The first: January 20, the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference. Wannsee is the seaside resort near Berlin where 15 senior Nazi officials met to formally impose a death sentence on Europe’s Jews and organize more efficiently the massacres already underway. A nice breakfast was served.
The Nazis imprisoned Jews before murdering them. Why didn’t they keep them alive and use them as slave labor in their war effort? The most plausible explanation is that the Nazis’ hatred of Jews was so intense that they rejected this more economical option.
Matthias Kuntzel, a Hamburg-based political scientist, has pointed out that before the Wannsee Conference, Hitler had promised Amin el-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and pre-eminent leader of the Palestinian Arabs, that the Jews of the Middle East would do the same eradicated as soon as possible.
After the war, according to Kuntzel, the Muslim Brotherhood defended “the alliance between el-Husseini and Hitler” and built “the largest anti-Semitic movement in the world.” The Brotherhood then “passed the baton” to an ardent Iranian cleric who would spearhead the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Since then, the theocratic regime established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has been pursuing “the project started by Hitler and the Mufti”.
The second anniversary: January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945. Last week, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to combat Holocaust denial on social media. Iran’s rulers were against it.
In other words, the rulers of Iran deny the genocide of Europe’s Jewish communities in the 20th century and threaten genocide of the only viable and thriving Jewish community in the Middle East in the 21st century. Iranian missiles read: “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.”
Since Iran’s rulers claim to be the leaders of the Muslim world, one might expect them to care about the Uyghurs, unlike Mr Palihapitiya. But not her. The most plausible explanation is that they have a revolutionary commitment to Death America! They rely on China’s leaders to help them pursue that goal.
In his podcast, Mr Palihapitiya said he was “not even sure China is a dictatorship” and that “at the end of the day I don’t have the moral absolutism to judge China”.
Explaining why he believes Uyghur lives don’t matter, he said he was more concerned about supply chain issues, climate change, the incarceration rate for people of color in the United States, and America’s “crippled” health care system.
“If you want to talk about people’s human rights, I think we have a responsibility to take care of our own backyard first,” he added.
There was America in the last century that held this view. Had they prevailed, the Second World War would have ended differently.
Isn’t it odd that the ideology then championed by far-right isolationists is now being embraced by elite figures on the fashion-forward left? And isn’t it a sad comment of our time that for so many people “never again!” has become “don’t care”?
• Clifford D. May is Founder and President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a columnist for The Washington Times.