Based on his body language and tone during his news conference Wednesday, Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn looked like a man embroiled in a major scandal. He wasn't. But standing in front of a handful of journalists and at least one local with a sign calling for his resignation, Zahn sheepishly and nervously announced he was rescinding his ban of Nike products.
"Acting upon the advice of the city attorney, I have rescinded my memorandum of Sept. 5," Zahn said. "That memorandum divided the city and placed Kenner in a false and unflattering light on the national stage."
Zahn banned booster clubs from purchasing Nike products after the company ran an ad featuring former quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Zahn's politically tone-deaf move focused the attention of the national media on Kenner, a city of 67,000.
"Right now, friends out of town think we're a joke and we have a racist mayor," said Kenner resident Jill Johnson.
If Zahn is a racist for opposing the NFL protests Nike's ad celebrates, so are most Republicans. A Huffington Post poll recently found 87 percent of Republicans oppose the NFL player protests while 62 percent of Democrats approve of them.
The Genesis of the NFL protests originated from Kaepernick's anti-police ideology. He's worn socks during practice showing police as pigs.
"There's people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. Cops are getting paid leave for killing people," Kaepernick once said.
The nation's largest police union criticized Nike for featuring Kaepernick in an ad but stopped short of calling for a boycott.
"If Nike chooses to create an ad campaign featuring a former quarterback who describes cops as pigs, they are free to do so," said Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police
The Nike ad Zahn objected to features a picture of Kaepernick with a caption reading, "Believe in something. Even if it means losing everything."
"The 381 police officers killed in the line of duty since 2016 believed in something and sacrificed everything," Canterbury added.
For Nike to portray the bench-warming Kaepernick as a man of sacrifice for disrespecting the flag so many died to protect is beyond absurd. Kaepernick has sacrificed nothing. His career was already declining, and now he's secured a lucrative Nike contract and is a darling of the left. Other NFL players have kneeled since Kaepernick and remain employed. Players kneeled as recently as last Sunday.
I can fully appreciate Zahn's frustration with Nike endorsing Kaepernick's anti-American views. Kaepernick once said about our troops, "They are dying in vain because this country isn't holding up their end of the bargain as far as giving freedom, justice and liberty to everybody."
Kaepernick's also worn T-shirts during news conferences promoting anti-American communists Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Ironically, the two men are known for murdering and imprisoning protesters.
"I'm not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," said Kaepernick.
In defense of Kaepernick, he's only 30 years old, and the blame-America-first mentality has become increasingly popular among those his age. That's probably why Nike featured him.
Zahn deserves credit for not bowing to political correctness and speaking out against the Nike ad. But calling for a government-mandated boycott was not the way to go. If companies like Nike start losing money promoting anti-police and anti-American causes, you can bet those campaigns will end abruptly. The free market, not government, will sway companies like Nike.
Nike's sales skyrocketed 31 percent since running the Kaepernick ad. But the company also potentially cost itself millions of other customers, never to return again. I'm done buying Nike. I assume Zahn is, too.
Kaepernick is wrong about America. Our racial divide is narrowing, especially after President Donald Trump cut regulation and taxes, creating a red-hot economy. Eight years ago, black unemployment was at 16.6 percent. In May, it reached an all-time low of 5.9 percent. The gap between white and black unemployment has never been smaller. We still have work to do, but we're heading in the right direction. And yes, our flag is still worthy of respect.
Email Dan Fagan at email@example.com.
Editor's note: Ben Zahn's name was misspelled in the headline of the previous version of this story. The Advocate regrets the error.