As everyone knows, Nike has partnered with Colin Kaepernick in their newest “Just Do It” campaign.
At this point, most of us have seen and/or contributed to an online discussion or made some sort of comment on that partnership (Facebook is the best for nuance and productive discussion of such issues). Maybe you said “Nike gets it!.” Or perhaps some form of “Look at those idiots protesting by burning the shoes they paid for!” And (though it’s unlikely if you’re reading this), maybe your contributions were geared more towards “I’ll never buy Nike again! They don’t respect the flag.”
At this point (Thursday, September 6), I decided it was my turn to contribute to a fruitless online debate, because why not! As I watched the same shit unfold on a family member’s Facebook page, I was TRIGGERED yet again by those unable to understand the nuance of what Kaepernick’s protest was about in any way.
Thoughtful criticism of those opposed would be so damn useful in actually addressing this issue. And I (like many) am dumbfounded that the company line for those that disagree with Kaepernick is still rooted in disrespect of the military (he began kneeling instead of sitting at the advice of an Army veteran), or that he’s a coddled athlete, adopted by white parents (only stupid white people use this as some kind of point, of which I can’t begin to understand) with some money protesting for attention for himself (be happy with the money the rich white men gave you and shut up).
If you understand written sarcasm in its most obvious form, that frustration is not lost in my post:
Not necessarily my best work, but a little amusing. I get tossed a couple likes. I felt a little better about myself for about five seconds. Did I make someone look at the situation differently?
Absolutely fucking not! Everyone who entered the conversation left with the exact same viewpoints as they came in. Maybe stronger than they were before! A good old-fashioned internet quibble against those stupid libtards/racists/”insert demeaning nickname for those that disagree with your political views here” will do that.
But that’s not even the point of this article! About ten minutes after posting that comment, my dad sent me a video outside the conversation that perfectly encapsulates everything about the Nike issue, Left vs. Right, and politics current and past. In it, John Cleese (co-founder of the Monty Python saga) quips on the nature of politics at the time, and the advantages of extremism:
That video is from 1987 (the year I was born, not to brag about having a birthday or anything). 1987! Over thirty years ago! A good amount of politicians and those on the forefront of politics are long gone by now. An even larger portion of people were not alive, or were just learning to wipe their butts when it came out (hand up here).
And Yet, Nothing Has Changed
If you took the wording of that video verbatim and recreated it tomorrow, every single bit of it would apply to today. There is not one word Cleese says that’s inaccurate about politics in 2018. Not one drop of sarcasm in his message that wouldn’t be applicable to nearly all political issues today.
Sure, a person can be nuanced and reasonable with viewpoints that don’t fit into a neat box. But the “people” that drive the public conversation will fit into that box no matter what it takes, and the messaging of those “people” generally create and stoke the battles we continue to fight with each other. This point, in stunning fashion, was nailed by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie Men in Black.
Are you a Democrat?
You better believe cops hate minorities and are scheming against them actively. You definitely know corporations and big business is evil, the people running them are scum, and their money would be better spent contributing to (insert your preferred cause or government-run public service program here). We WILL let every single immigrant in, no matter their background. And Colin Kaepernick’s cause is the bravest, most noble thing ever done, above reproach, and WHY IS COLIN KAEPERNICK STILL UNSIGNED??
Are you a Republican?
You better believe every cent of your taxes is going to those lazy minorities collecting welfare while playing on his Iphone X. You definitely know that the cops in this country walk directly into DANGER each and every day, and how dare you question their intent just because they accidentally murdered a couple people of color. We WILL keep every single immigrant out, no matter their background. And Colin Kaepernick’s protest is a disgrace, a kick to the nuts of the military, and WHY DO WE NOT CALL COLIN KAEPERNICK WHAT HE REALLY IS–A TREASONOUS BETRAYING TRAITOR TO OUR GREAT NATION.
Depending on which of these you fit into (because you HAVE to fit into one of the other), you then get to scream at and bully the opposing side. You get to do this your causes are justified and what made this country great. Theirs are stupid and the problem with our great nation.
And while thinking about all this, and how spot on it is to nearly any modern era it is applied to, it made me realize something.
POLITICS IS JUST A SPORT
All of this is a game. Or, more accurately, its a game in that it wrongly is viewed as having a winner and a loser.
I’m not saying it should be a sport. There are so many issues that deserve excruciatingly detailed analysis and debate. And yet, most often, the end of the any discussion on any issue is a generic insult hurled at the other side. Just for being on the other side! This happens typically before a real true opinion is ever spoken into existence. And best case scenario, you will get a “yea, but (statement rooted in pettiness and concession only as a means to get to your next take-down argument).
It’s me any time someone mentions Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time:
Person with reasonable, lukewarm take: “Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.”
Me: “Yea he was pretty good, but he also cheated (read: threw slightly under-inflated footballs while beating the Colts by 117, WHICH HE COULD NOT DO UNLESS HE DEFLATED THOSE FOOTBALLS), so how good was he really?”
Now we’re talking about Tom Brady cheating and not how good he was. Which obviously, by default, means Peyton Manning is the greatest of all time. And most importantly, I win!
It’s very much a competition with a winner and a loser.
In the 2018 political arena, conceding even the most valid of points to the other side would be viewed through the same lens as pitcher intentionally walking a batter with the bases loaded in a tie game: an active desire to lose and hurt your team.
And we all will continue this useless, spiteful, and self-aggrandizing approach until someone smart enough, brave enough, and most of all, lucky enough to be blessed in having the right tools at the right time to overhaul the system. A system so rooted in our society, a video meant to caricaturize that system demeaningly 30 years ago instead translates literally to the type of conversation we engage in daily.
And boy-howdy, is it exhausting.
Almost as exhausting as those lefties that want to allow criminals through our nations borders.
And don’t forget the righties that support child imprisonment.
Exhausting I tell ya!