When Nike put out its ads for the 30th year of the “Just Do It” campaign, it likely knew that one particular featured athlete would spark controversy, but it went through with it anyway.
The firestorm of conservative protests resulting from Colin Kaepernick’s “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” ad was definitely predictable. Widespread protest on social media like Twitter and Facebook included videos of self-proclaimed “former Nike customers” burning Nike shoes and T-shirts and starting the #BoycottNike movement.
Most people offended by the former NFL quarterback’s original protest of kneeling on the sidelines during the national anthem seem to have an incorrect idea of what he’s protesting.
He wasn’t protesting the flag. He wasn’t protesting the anthem. He wasn’t protesting against veterans.
He was protesting against police brutality and a justice system rife with racial inequality by using his heightened platform to gain attention.
He even had backing from a US Green Beret veteran.
According to a Snopes.com story on the subject, Nate Boyer, a veteran of both the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan, suggested the idea of kneeling to Kaepernick after he originally sat in protest.
In an episode of HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” that aired in Sept. 2016, Boyer said, “We sorta came to a middle ground where he would take a knee alongside his teammates. Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect. When we’re on a patrol, you know, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security.”
Aside from all of that, the act of kneeling was always meant to be a form of protest to gain attention for an issue that Kaepernick believed needed attention. You might even think it right to call him “un-American”.
But think about what you’re doing as you burn your shoes or #BoycottNike. You’re protesting for a reason you believe in, same as Kaepernick. To deny him the right to protest would be denying him his First Amendment right to the freedom of speech, and what would be more un-American than that?