I smiled when I found out that the city of Kenner’s Supreme Leader, er, Mayor Ben Zahn announced that he was pulling back his order that said that under no circumstance would any Nike product be purchased for use at any of Kenner’s recreation facilities.
The Sept. 5 order was the Supreme Leader’s, er, mayor’s attempt to strike back at sportswear giant Nike’s “Just do it” ad campaign using blackballed former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as its star.
What was the mayor thinking when that idea started rolling around in his head? Did he talk to anyone past his driveway about this? Why didn’t he prove his point by just not buying Nike? Maybe he could have gotten his cousins and friends to follow suit. Now there’s a movement.
So, what did Kenner get from the mayor’s protestations? Nothing but a mountain of ridicule from across the country. It’s another case of the malady that strikes so many politicians called shooting first and aiming later.
But the mayor wasn’t alone. Folks around the country were burning Nike gear that they had already purchased to show their disdain for the company. I wholeheartedly agree with their right to do what they did. That’s America. But, it begs the question: What would they do if they found out the mortgage company that loaned them the money to purchase their houses is doing commercials featuring Kaepernick?
At his mea culpa press event, Zahn said he was doing so because “it divided our city.” Really? So pouring gasoline on a flame near your house is really bad?
He wrapped himself in the flag and said he cared for the first responders, military and the country when he considered his position on Nike. Dude, the flag is the ultimate symbol of free speech in America. That’s why the anti-American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan can have their rallies and rant about whatever they want. And we all know there are some “good people” in those groups, according to the main resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The mayor is part of Team Trump that attacked the kneeling movement that Kaepernick started a couple of NFL seasons ago. The reason for the action was to protest the killing of unarmed African-Americans by law enforcement and the unfair treatment of African Americans.
That obvious truth was difficult to argue against. So instead of dealing with something that made them uncomfortable, the president created this anti-American, hate-the-anthem angle, which gave his base a place to run and to ignore the real reason for the kneeling action.
Mind you, this argument comes from a man who moonwalked away five times from serving his country, once most notably for a rich man’s ailment during Vietnam called bone spurs. I wonder how many poor draftees in the Vietnam era were able to use that? And, do they know the young Trump played football, basketball, tennis and squash leading up to his ailment?
This is the same man who slammed the family of a soldier that died in combat and who belittled the late U.S. Sen. John McCain because he was captured and endured years of torture as a POW. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who are not captured,” Trump said. Now that sounds very patriotic given there were more than 1,300 American POWs in Vietnam. They’re heroes in my book.
And, this is the same man who, according to news accounts about an appearance on the Howard Stern radio show, is quoted as saying that avoiding sexually transmitted diseases while dating “is my personal Vietnam.” Take that, combat veterans!
By the way, I went to a sportswear store last week and noticed five other people near the Nike sneaker rack. I was interested to see what they would do because none of them looked like me. Four of them purchased Nikes. I couldn’t tell what a woman bought, but I did see her trying on sneakers near the women’s Nike shoe display.
I don’t know why they purchased theirs. I bought mine because I’m a free speech kind of guy, and I understand the real reason for Kaepernick’s kneeling. I guess that makes me a bad guy who just happens to understand the First Amendment.
Back to Zahn. It’s very possible that his misguided edict fits in nicely with the Nike campaign that bears Kaepernick’s likeness: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Well, almost.
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at email@example.com