On Monday, Nike announced the face of their new “Just Do It” campaign would be the controversial NFL exile Colin Kaepernick — the man who they’ve reportedly paid under wraps since 2017. Alongside the likes of sports icons in Serena Williams and LeBron James, the company is commemorating the 30th anniversary of their iconic slogan by recognizing athletes they consider especially courageous. One of these new black-and-white posters features a close-up image of Kaepernick paired with these words:
“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
The line is a direct reference to Kaepernick’s new free speech lawsuit brought against the NFL, accusing the football league of exiling the former star quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers due to government pressure to crack down on the kneeling protests. Since 2016, Kaepernick used his position in the league to speak out against the police brutality widely covered across the nation by kneeling during the national anthem. His silent, non-disruptive, non-violent protest — which gathered support among fellow team members, coaches and a decent plurality of Americans — sparked months of strident debate regarding the message and his free speech liberties.
Now that controversy has started all over again. Within hours, the so-called free speech warriors on the right showed their true face, coming out to play the outrage mob that should be expected of the new right-wing social justice warrior movements. The conservatives soon began #BoycottNike, an online movement where these offended activists decided to upload footage of themselves either burning or cutting their own Nike branded gear to ‘own the libs’ and showcase their empty patriotism through property damage.
“First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country,” writes Sean Clancy, one of the boycotters who received thousands of retweets for his shoe burning footage. “I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive?”
Except most people haven’t argued it’s offensive. This conservative opposition is built upon a straw-man argument that they’re the underdogs of society in a fragile world that’s being coddled by the “liberal media.” This is not reality.
After all, it was the news division for CBS — the oh-so-conservative platform that hosts totally pro-Trump comedians in Stephen Colbert — which found the majority of Americans disagreed with Kaepernick in his protest efforts. Their reason however, echoed by figures in President Donald Trump, were that it’s “un-American” and intentionally disrespects the flag, the country and, of course, the military. The football player, by just daring to freely object during the sports game turned war rally, as bomber jets fly over the heads of hot dog scarfing attendees, is just so against this apparent free country of theirs. This would already be a flimsy position if it weren’t so far from the truth.
Kaepernick and his fellow kneeling NFL players have made it clear that their protest is about police brutality. Vox cited several examples of protestors stating their argument is about how they believe unarmed black Americans are harmed by law enforcement at disproportionate rates compared to other races. It’s a standard leftist narrative, needlessly framed in racialized context, that doesn’t necessarily hold up to the facts. You can argue that these people are wrong, but it makes no sense to argue that they are somehow unpatriotic traitors. This hasn’t stopped the right-wing SJWs though.
This romanticism for the military is especially hilarious given the organization that went into Kaepernick’s means of protests. These kneelings weren’t just some spur-of-the-moment trend where a man turned anti-cop and government because of newfound laziness. Instead, it was given careful consideration, decided when the quarterback held discussions with military counsel on maintaining their mighty presence. During the thick of the kneeling debate, it was HBO’s program ‘Real Sports’ which spoke with Nate Boyer, a special forces veteran who served years under the Green Berets, who told the hosts he advised Kaepernick that kneeling is a military sign of respect — one that’s perfectly apt for his message of a non-violent peace.
“We sorta came to a middle ground where he would take a knee alongside his teammates,” Boyer told the program. “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect. When we’re on a patrol, you know, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security. [Kaepernick was] very receptive. And, you know, he asked me to do it with him. And I said, ‘Look, I’ll stand next to you. I gotta stand though. I gotta stand with my hand on my heart. That’s just what I do and where I’m from’.”
“I got called a lotta things from both sides. I was told I was a disgrace to the green beret by a couple Green Berets, one of ’em I was friends with,” Boyer continued. “And that hurts, you know? It really does. But then I also had a lot of people in the military and people in special forces that said, ‘Man, I hadn’t really thought about that before. And I think you’re onto something’.”
Kaepernick was merely working within their pro-military framework, extending his hand to the conservative movement, who were so fragile they demanded enforced patriotism the likes of a totalitarian police state. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out,” the president told his audience of raging patriot™ snowflakes. “‘He’s fired. He’s fired!” You know, some owner is going to do that.”
And so they did. In their reporting, The Daily Beast also found it strange that out of all these owners, who swear up-and-down they didn’t crack under this government pressure, Kaepernick was “mysteriously unable” to find a single team willing to hire the man despite his fine athletic credentials. Instead, the response was to use the fake victims as their controlled shield. It was the Ohio based Navy Seal Katlin Bellaw who was forced to explain the military is no collective hive-mind despite the desires of collectivist SJWs, tweeting out:
Stop using the troops as an excuse to burn your Nike shit. I’m not your scapegoat. I’m gonna sit over here and continue to buy my Nike stuff, they give military a discount #NikeBoycott— Katlin Bellaw (@KatlinBellaw) September 4, 2018
“Stop using the troops as an excuse to burn your Nike shit,” said wrote. “I’m not your scapegoat. I’m gonna sit over here and continue to buy my Nike stuff, they give military a discount.”
As Bellaw continues to buy Nike for the brand, the comfort, any practical reason on the merits, it’s the conservatives who are now the ones on the destructive path to assert political dominance. Now it’s ‘keep your damn politics out of my feet coatings,’ or however the chants would go, as they continue to circulate likes, shares, and follows for the victimization. Becoming the exact kind of monsters they swore to be fighting from the obsession over college campuses to the more modern culture wars.
This conservative opposition is also leading to an increase in Nike interest since its initial drop The New York Post reported merely hours ago, following the release of a new Kaepernick ad spot on NBC, Nike’s company shares were trading up 73 cents ($81.13), meaning the company regained more than half the $2.60-per-share decline — and $3.3 billion loss in market cap — in an extremely short amount of time. It seems the company got exactly the kind of controversy they paid for, and there’s nowhere but up to go from here.