Sports

You Have Girlfriend Vietnam?

Colin Kaepernick has just betrayed everything he ostensibly stood (or knelt) for by signing on to be the face of Nike’s recurring “Just Do It” campaign. In doing so, he becomes an ambassador for child labor and worker exploitation throughout the world.

Nike, which manufactures its athletic-wear through third-party contractors in Asia has come under fire many times over the years, for lax oversight, and tacit encouragement of their business partners’ exploitative practices.

In  1997, scandalous working conditions were revealed in Nike’s third-party manufacturing plants in Vietnam, when their government brought legal action against the contractors and Nike after dozens of employees reported mistreatment, wage tampering and even sexual molestation.

Jill Ker Conway, a Nike director at the time, tried to assure board members stateside, that the company was addressing the allegations and doing everything in their power to correct the situation, but she was caught more than once obfuscating the facts and even lying on national television.

Working conditions in Nike’s other operations in the region, such as China and Indonesia, have never been scrutinized in the same manner as a result of stricter controls over information and corporate protection by those nations. Vietnam, itself, is not exactly a bastion of the free press, but its particular history with the United States and struggle to resolve the ongoing tragedy of UXO (unexploded ordinance), which has claimed more than 100,000 Vietnamese victims since the end of the war, gives them a reasonable axe to grind.

Minimum wage in Vietnam back in 1997 was approximately $42 a month, a figure Nike contractors were undercutting. Even at this pay-rate, a $150 pair Air Jordans – a normal retail price at the time – would cost Nike $1.50 to make. Such margins are unheard of for most businesses, but for transnational corporations like Nike, slave-wage labor is the reason they can afford to pay millions for world-scale marketing campaigns like “Just Do It”.

Intentional Grounding

Kaepernick is literally profiting from the worst of capitalism, while he dons the likeness of Malcom X and Fidel Castro on his shirt, and proclaims solidarity with the victims of police brutality in America.

Could it be a case of simple ignorance? Is Kaepernick just not aware of Nike’s history? In a sense, that really doesn’t matter. The fact that it IS Nike may make it more egregious. But, at its core, the problem is that he is leveraging a real and pervasive issue in the country, which he himself brought to the national consciousness, to make a buck.

Had he gone with Krispy Kreme doughnuts instead of Nike, it would hardly make a difference. The point is that everything he claimed to be about can now be called into question, and dismissed as nothing but an attention ploy and/or a lucrative business move.

He has made a mockery of Baltimore and Trayvon Martin, desecrated the image of true civil rights warriors like King, Robinson and Ali. What’s perhaps worse and more insidious is that he has given massive global corporations like Nike cover to pretend that buying their overpriced, slave-labor-manufactured products is some kind of action for social justice, as some people on Twitter are already implying:

Fantasy Football Dialectics

On the flip side, you have the faux patriots, predictably taking the opposite end of the absurd narrative and are defacing or destroying their Nike merchandise, reinforcing the entirely false premise propagated by the flag-waving, Monday-morning quarterbacks, that denounce NFL players who won’t stand for the national anthem from their laz-y-boys.

Trump, of course, seized the political moment and drove a deeper wedge into the American people, who are now more polarized than ever. Both sides of the divide now uphold completely self-defeating positions, and are allowing further encroachment by the ever-strengthening corporate-government alliance.

Not only are police departments around the country increasingly turning to militarized tactics and equipment, but the tech giants – who’ve now successfully corralled the vast majority internet users in their centralized platforms – are implementing  social-justice-flavored censorship strategies.

With this latest move, Nike is appealing to their uninformed, young customers whose brand awareness eclipses their historical awareness. They’re lining up and picking teams in a completely contrived, bogus game to the great detriment of society.

Colin Kaepernick is like a quarterback who throws an interception and starts blocking his own teammates to make sure the opposing team runs it back for a touchdown. Frankly, I wouldn’t want a guy like that on my team, either.

Miami Soccer Stadium
I don’t want any interruptions from anyone in the public… We’ve done this day in and day out for a very long time in the City of Miami… We do not need assistance with running this meeting.Keon Hardemon (District 5) - Commissioner & Chairman
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Joe Carollo, Commissioner for District 3, banters with City Commission Chairman, Keon Hardemon, just before the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal begins at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Swing vote-holder, Commissioner Ken Russell, answers some of the press’ questions prior to the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We are circumventing our own statutes, our own laws… Let the real owners of the land decide… We are going against our own charter. That’s why people don’t trust us.Manolo Reyes (District 4) - Commissioner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: The Mas-Beckham team huddle together during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: District 4 Commissioner, Manolo Reyes, states his opposition to the process underlying the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

For the purposes of the questions that were posed, the way the commission is proceeding at this time is perfectly legal. I wanted to remind the commission that in 2014 there was a resolution passed that we wanted MLS soccer, David Beckham to be the group that led this charge… It’s legal.Victoria Mendez - City Attorney
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Mayor of Miami, Francis X. Suarez, follows the proceedings during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Richard Perez, Holland & Knight partner, representing the Beckham interests stands smiling at the podium during the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

This impromptu proposed ballot language is deceiving and is calculated to elicit a particular response. But, I also think it’s out of order… I have not seen this. We were not contacted about this. We were not asked questions by Commissioner Reyes’ office.Francis X. Suarez - Mayor
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A First-T supporter looks on skeptically during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal, while a stadium supporter sits anxiously behind him at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Francis X. Suarez, Mayor of Miami, disputes a proposed language change resolution before the City Commission at the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We are extremely confident that the remediation costs on this particular site, including the park and including the lease premises will be substantially less than $35 million. Richard Perez - Holland & Knight partner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Miami Mayor, Francis X. Suarez and City Manager, Emilio T. Gonzalez, confer privately just prior to the start of the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Stadium proposal partner, Jorge Mas Jr., stares forward defiantly during the special hearing at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

We would adopt reaching a living wage on a scalable basis, starting at $11 dollars over four years to get to the $15 dollars.Jorge Mas
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A member of the Mas-Beckham entourage follows the proceedings attentively during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: The Mas-Beckham team consult with each other during the special hearing on the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

 

I know that you say that it is legal. But, is it ethical?Manolo Reyes (District 4) - Commissioner
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: Jorge Mas Jr., Beckham’s partner in the stadium venture, assumes a pleading posture during the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.
Miami Soccer Stadium
MIAMI, FL – July 18: A stadium deal supporter sits through the special hearing for the Beckham-Malreese Stadium proposal at City Hall in Miami, Florida on July 18, 2018 | PHOTO CREDIT: Raul Diego for deepcitychronicles ©2018 Deep City Chronicles. All Rights Reserved.

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