Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has not been averse to commentary on Florida and Jacksonville issues, but when it comes to China, he has a different take.
“Respect the norms,” he told Yahoo! Thursday, regarding NBA players and executives commentating on that country’s social issues.
Khan referenced his own hands-off reaction to the Catalonian independence push in Spain.
“I didn’t think, as an American, I should really be having an opinion on it, even though a lot of people wanted us to. I want to have an opinion in America, there’s a civic duty to engage and do the right thing, but having an opinion on sovereign matters in other countries, it’s for those people to decide,” Khan said.
“We are American citizens, we have a social, civic responsibility to be active in causes we believe in. But do we have that same responsibility to opine on sovereign matters in other countries? That’s the critical issue,” Khan added.
Indeed, there is a real difference there. Khan, who supported the election of President Donald Trump in 2016 (also donating $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee), has broken with Republican interests locally and beyond over the years.
In Houston for the Super Bowl in 2017, the Jacksonville Jaguars owner broke with the city’s right wing on two hot-button issues.
Khan, a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, came out against the controversial Donald Trump immigration/travel ban from seven majority-Muslim countries.
And, for good measure, he expressed — to a national publication — his support for the expansion of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance to include protection on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression at work, in housing, and in public accommodations in businesses that aren’t churches or small businesses.
Khan’s chief lobbyist at the time, Paul Harden, was whipping votes on the Council, even as Mayor Lenny Curry said passage of rights legislation wouldn’t be “prudent.”
Later that year, Khan broke with Curry and Trump over NFL players kneeling for the National Anthem.
A number of Jacksonville Jaguars kneeled for the American National Anthem; a protest against President Donald Trump‘s provocative comments about protesting players. Khan locked arms with players as they stood.
Trump said at a rally: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b***h off the field right now… he is fired.’ ”
Trump’s tempest was too much for him to support during the NFL season.
“I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem,” Khan said.
Khan revisited this controversy in the Yahoo! interview, including the donation to Trump.
“I’m a big fan of his economic policies,” Khan said, offering qualified praise.
But does he still back Trump? “On social issues, such as immigration,” Khan added, “we need to have a different viewpoint.”
Khan, in urging non-involvement in internal Chinese politics, breaks with such as Sen. Rick Scott, to whom Khan and the Jaguars have been big donors.
Scott has messaged strongly against the NBA depoliticizing its Chinese involvement. However, Khan’s words likely are more illustrative of the realities of international capitalism.