The world’s largest concentration-camp network, and the most technologically advanced effort at cultural genocide, is run by the Chinese Communist Party.

You may know them better as LeBron’s retirement-fund managers. 

More than 400 pages of internal Chinese documents obtained by the New York Times provide an unprecedented inside look at the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region of China.

We should understand what this means. The overwhelming majority of us never heard of Uighurs and Kazakhs before, or if we had, we never particularly cared about them one way or another. They are a faraway people of whom we know nothing. 

Furthermore, why ought we allow the Chinese Communist horrors perpetrated upon them to obscure or obstruct the great quantities of cash available through good relations with those same communists? No one wants to say it outright, but the extermination of a marginal nation of a few million seems to a great many a price worth paying for positive intercourse with one of the world’s greatest industrial powers. 

You could say that last sentence as easily in 1938 as you can in 2019.

Yet, we should care. We should care for two reasons.

The first reason is rooted in who we are. America means nothing if we are merely great. That puts us in the ranks of Ivan the Terrible, Ataturk, Mao, Stalin, and Mehmet the Conqueror. Our calling is likewise to be good, the nation whose ships encounter refugees on the high seas to be greeted with jubilant cries of, “Hello, freedom man!” We cannot act everywhere, but we may speak — and we should.

The People’s Republic of China is, for all its might, still effectively an economic appendage of the whole: To cut it off from trade and travel until it meets certain minimum baselines of civilized behavior — say, don’t run a concentration-camp network — would be a thing both grand and simple. 

The second reason is rooted in plain self-preservation. Xinjiang is not an end in itself. Xinjiang is a testing ground. Xinjiang is a prototype. Once data- and AI-enabled mass surveillance, suppression and extermination is perfected there, it comes elsewhere. Given sufficient time, it comes to us. 

Maybe it comes via the offices of the Communist Party of China or maybe it comes via its corporate friends. How else to explain the recent contortions by Lebron and the NBA? Maybe it comes via our own federal government in the hands of bureaucrats whose only fault is caring too much. However it comes, it comes.

When the Uighurs are either dead or insensible to the fact that they are Uighurs, then it is our turn. If you wonder why they are building barricades and preparing to die in the streets and on the university campuses of Hong Kong, this is why. Those facing the Chinese authoritarian menace firsthand understand it. 

The rest of us? Well, we sleep.