Moral Reasoning 101

Colin Kaepernick, a second-rate professional football player (I defer to others’ judgment, as I haven’t watched an NFL game in years), has made himself a hero among young people who mistake “coolness” for heroism by kneeling during the national anthem. Now Nike, which aims its products at young customers who mistake “coolness” for heroism, is exploiting Kaepernick’s popularity to enhance its profits. In response to this example of pure, unmitigated capitalism — a business working to increase demand for its products and then meet the demand — many American “patriots” are protesting against this advertising campaign by burning their own Nike shoes, sometimes on video; and at least one Christian college has banned its student-athletes from wearing Nike apparel, claiming love for America as their cause.

Furthermore, since President Trump himself condemned Nike’s decision immediately on Twitter, I’ve got ten bucks that says ninety-nine percent of the shoe-burning Nike-haters are also Trump supporters.

What exactly is the principle governing these “patriotic” Nike-burning protests? The only principle that seems to make sense here is something like this: A business that would choose to associate itself for profit with a man who disrespects the United States, speaks out against its institutions, seeks to undermine the nation’s moral legitimacy, or promotes progressive social unrest, has morally delegitimized itself to such an extent that it no longer deserves the patronage or support of decent, America-loving citizens. 

Okay. So then answer me this: When some of us were saying, back in late 2015 and early 2016, that Donald Trump had been a major donor to leading progressive politicians and organizations for decades — supporting people and causes far more profoundly anti-American and subversive than some two-bit second-level football player who kneels during the national anthem — we were swarmed with thousands if not millions of hateful counterattacks from people who insisted that every penny Trump spent on the Clintons, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Rahm Emanuel was not only forgivable but justified.

“After all,” the defenders spat at us, “Trump is a businessman and that’s what you have to do to succeed as a big city real estate developer.”

I see. If you’re a businessman, your support for the nation’s leading progressive totalitarians is to be forgiven, or even praised, since it’s all done in the name of the great god, Profit. Heck, you should be rewarded with the leadership of the country’s alleged conservative party, and even elected President of the United States, in honor of your business genius — genius evidenced by your clever history of supporting progressive Democratic leaders (not to mention progressive Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner).

But if Nike thinks using the image of an ultimately unimportant cool black rebel icon of the moment will enhance its running shoe sales, it’s “Katie bar the door.” I mean, do they hate America or what?!

A haiku:

For what Nietzsche called
“the after-dinner nausea,”
only walking helps.

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