I haven’t written much about Kaepernick, and I’m not going to start now. Let me tell you why. It won’t take long; I promise.
I’m fine with people protesting, especially if they do so peacefully. All I ask — more importantly, all the law and our modern social contract asks — is that they avoid harming anyone or interfering with the rights of others. So any peaceful protest that doesn’t block traffic, make excessive amounts of noise, or give away the Great Pumpkin Secret is A-OK with me. I’ll even tolerate some that DO block traffic; protest and free assembly is important.
This means I don’t mind if football players kneel. Let them. I’m not entirely certain why; I’m not entirely certain any of them know exactly why — but that’s fine. I’ll accept that they’re being selfless and that they’re dissatisfied, and if Mr. Kaepernick can present a compelling statement I’ll listen to it. (The last one from him left me mildly sympathetic but unenlightened.)
I don’t mind if Nike employs Mr. Kaepernick. I don’t for a single minute believe they’re being socially conscious; they’re in it to sell shoes, and whoever they use as a spokesperson is fine by me. (If I’m wrong and they are making a social statement, so much the better; civic responsibility by corporations is to be encouraged.) Plus, all else aside, they’re helping to reduce unemployment by at least one person.
I don’t object if people burn their Nikes to protest Nike’s decision. It’s a peaceful protest using their property, and hopefully ON their property. I might object were I downwind, but I’m not.
And I don’t at all mind when people make fun of the Nike-burners. I find the burning of expensive but perfectly good footwear to be a ludicrous exercise and worthy of humor. Having said that, I find it annoyingly self-righteous of those who do object to shoe-burning when they advise the shoes be donated instead.
Yes, it’s wasteful. Yes, there’s a need for donated footwear. But the protest is legitimate, the shoes are private property, and if people are willing to sacrifice the mortgage-worthy price of a pair of Nikes to make a statement, we can at least respect the depth of their feeling. Otherwise, we’re disrespecting not only their protest, but the protest they’re counter-protesting, the protest that’s in sympathy of, and the whole chain of protests back to the original right of protest. Instead, I’d suggest that, if you feel strongly about footwear donations, you should spend your own money and buy a pair (of Nikes? or ten pair of something else) to donate. Or just give some cash to Covenant House using this link; they do good work.
But that’s just a suggestion. Because if you want to protest people burning Nikes, you’ve got the right to do so. And I don’t mind.
(Editor’s Note: The opinion of The Not Fake News is and has always been that there’s something wrong with our society, and if more people took the trouble to understand each other, it would help us each figure out what we should do to fix it.)