Nike is delving into the battle over Kaepernick’s divisive commitment to kneel during the National Anthem. While Kaepernick is no longer in the NFL, other players are continuing to kneel, and the NFL lacks the courage to implement a new policy to forbid such behavior.
Clearly kneeling during the National Anthem is offensive to not only veterans, but also to many NFL fans. It could be why television ratings are continuing to fall at the beginning of the new season. A recent NBC & Wall Street Journal poll found that 54% of Americans viewed kneeling during the National Anthem to be inappropriate, while only 43% supported it.
While most Americans oppose Kaepernick and his offensive gesture, Nike is trying to cultivate an identification with minorities, Millennials and foreigners. The older Americans, mainly Republicans and Independents who oppose this type of protest are not the type of customers they are trying to cultivate.
It is obvious, Zahn’s decision has the support of many of his constituents; however, the media is focusing on the critics of his move. Kenner Councilman Gregory Carroll said the policy banning Nike “divides our city and is on the cusp of being illegal."
Despite his opposition to the Mayor’s pronouncement, Carroll did not attend a massive rally in Kenner on Monday night in which participants showed their support for Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Attendees included New Orleans Councilmember Jay Banks, Saints players such as Cam Jordan and media personalities such as talk show host Oliver Thomas.
While New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell did not attend, she issued a statement condemning “Kenner’s mayor,” while boasting that New Orleans has different “values” than Zahn. She was joined by U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) who also blasted Zahn for his decision.
The blistering criticisms from New Orleans politicians, such as Banks, Cantrell and Richmond are quite unusual. It is not commonplace for political leaders in New Orleans to vigorously denigrate the leader of another city, especially one that is so close and so connected to New Orleans.
Sadly, it is a new day in Louisiana politics. The trendsetter was former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who created a racially tinged controversy by taking down Confederate monuments to boost his national political ambitions.
GThis model is now being followed by Cantrell who is getting involved in the Kenner issue, even though it is irrelevant to her major concerns of crime fighting, street conditions, drainage and flood protection, economic development, and budgetary and fiscal issues. Cantrell has learned from her predecessor that demagoguery on irrelevant issues can pay political dividends. Not surprisingly, among the Democrat politicians condemning Mayor Zahn was none other than former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Old habits are hard to break.