Kaepernick's Nike campaign strikes controversy | Photo Courtesy of Vox

Just burn it

Most children are taught to avoid fighting fire with fire, however, it seems like some adults need a quick refresher on this lesson, too. In an attempt to show their disapproval of the brand’s new “Just Do It” advertisement featuring Colin Kaepernick, hyper-conservatives have been  deliberately burning their Nike sneakers. It’s this protest to a protest that has inflamed the burning of shoes into a national laughing stock.

Colin Kaepernick’s dissent of police brutality led him to first kneel during the national anthem nearly two years ago. In fact, it was a white veteran who contacted Kaepernick with an inquiry to find a compromise between sitting and standing.

“I’m not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s your inalienable right,” the US Army veteran, Nate Boyer wrote. “What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I’ve never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you’ve gone through is as ignorant as someone who’s never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it’s like to go to war.”

Nike partners with Kaepernick in support of the #TakeAKnee Movement | Photo Courtesy of slate.com

Boyer’s letter acknowledging the respectability of Kaepernick’s courage led to the two men finding a common ground through the use of a kneeling during the national anthem. Fast forward two years, and Nike stands today as the first large corporation to backup Kaepernick in his peaceful use of his First Amendment rights.  What “true patriots”-a title sneaker-burning Americans have adopted- do not realize is that they are only feeding into the protest against racism within the criminal justice system.

If Kaepernick’s opposers are harming anyone, it is themselves. The burning of Nike products has worked only to shed a more positive light on the Black Lives Matter Movement and an even more negative light on ignorance. The fact of the matter is that burning Nikes do not cost the billion dollar corporation a cent but waste the money of the consumer who chooses to violently protest with their own possessions. At the end of the day, their money is thrown down the drain while onlookers recognize the insanity in burning a product you have already purchased from a company that has an impenetrable reputation. And if the issue of disrespecting American veterans is still prevalent to these conservatives, then it seems like donating their unwanted shoes to those veterans makes more sense. Doing anything else implies these hyper-conservatives are merely here to make a scene. After the regret sinks in from burning their beloved tennis shoes, it will not take these men and women long to realize they lost both their money, respectability, and their shoes while Nike lost nothing and gained publicity.

For the past century, African-Americans have been criticized for demonstrating acts of excessive violence during protests and rallies. But when one black man decides to  take their criticism into consideration, he is still ridiculed for peacefully yet boldly kneeling during the national anthem. In addition, the conservative critics ambiguously utilized flames to reinstate their unjustified ridicule of Kaepernick and Nike’s actions. Their hypocrisy leads people to think that they have less of an issue with Nike’s support for NFL kneeling and more of a disgust for the large company’s representation of people of color.

Hyper-conservatives burn their Nike shoes | Photo Courtesy of Ad Age

It is also certain statements that can make one question whether or not they really know what they are talking about.

The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”, Donald Trump tweeted.

This comment alone shows the little amount of research he and his supporters have done as the movement has nothing to do with American veterans, the flag, or the national anthem, but everything to do with race. Colin Kaepernick openly expresses the opposite of what Trump claimed.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said, when he first sat down during the national anthem.

Nevertheless, whether they were taught to fight fire with fire or pour water on it, multitudes of Americans recognize the stupidity in destroying a pair of sneakers in mint-condition.

Ironically, numerous veterans, who Trump claims are targeted by the Take A Knee movement, are taking a knee alongside Kaepernick.

“I’m one of countless military veterans taking a knee. Do not exploit our service to silence black Americans and endorse racism. #TakeaKnee,” Charles Clymer tweeted.

The retaliation protest shows the childish ways of those who believes patriotism justifiably trumps one’s First Amendment rights. Burning Nike products in support of patriotism is more of an issue than men kneeling on the sidelines in order to protest police brutality. However, for all those who feel that burning Nike’s will prevent men from practicing their freedoms,  there are millions of veterans that would happily kneel down and take those shoes off your hands.

Written by Cori Dill

Cori Dill is a senior at MC and the web editor and the impromptu HR of the MC Sun. She is most likely to be found at a coffee shop, drinking unhealthy amounts of caffeine.

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