(July 8).

I will never buy another Nike product again. I know I’m far from the only one to make this pledge.

Nike’s withdrawal of its shoes featuring a representation of the Betsy Ross-style American flag is just the final straw. If Nike wants to thumb its nose at America, America can thumb its nose at Nike.

For decades, Nike has made a fetish of being edgy. Edginess has been part of its image. But when edginess morphs into politics, or into an insulting cultural in-your-face attitude, enough is enough. Many of us have spent a lifetime balking at making consumer choices political, but when a corporation insists on making their product political, there have to be consequences.

The edginess itself came very close to crossing lines for years, although there were times when it wasn’t entirely inappropriate. When Tiger Woods first turned pro, for example, he tried in person to downplay racial issues, light-heartedly calling himself “Cablinasian” and otherwise avoiding chances to make his golf game into a racial crusade. Nike, in contrast, ran a commercial openly racializing Woods’ appeal. The ad’s racial moralizing wasn’t necessary, but at least it was undoubtedly on target.

Not so in this case.

It was bad enough when Nike signed mediocre quarterback Colin Kaerpernick as a high-profile endorser not in spite of, but obviously because of his multitudinous expressions of disdain for the United States — expressions that went far beyond mere refusal to stand for the national anthem. Somehow, though, it was then possible to look the other way. If this was just Nike being Nike, narrow-casting its sales pitch for certain products to certain audiences but not making the political message itself an express part of its advertising, maybe it could just be ignored.

This time, though, Nike kowtowed to the perpetually radical malcontent by withdrawing its own product, even though it wasn’t a product associated with him directly. It did so even though Kaepernick’s argument was absurd. The Ross flag represented a major advance of freedom, and Ross herself even appears to have been an abolitionist. (Important note: Britain didn’t abolish slavery in its colonies until 1834.) Worse, Nike pulled this stunt just as Independence Day loomed, making this the latest thing in trendy leftism, a concerted effort to criticize the United States and sneer at patriotism….

[The full column is here.]


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