Nike has thrived under American freedoms but over the past few years, as it went woke, it signaled that it was growing skeptical if not hostile to its home country.
There was, most notably, its decision to hand former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick a $50 million contract after he knelt during the National Anthem to protest, he claimed, police brutality. Kaepernick’s activism since then has made clear that he was protesting America itself. Nike has kept him on and paid him more each month than many Americans make in a decade.
Nike recently held its quarterly earnings meeting. It has run afoul of the Chinese Communist Party for criticizing that party’s ghastly and racist slave labor practices. This criticism has put deals with China in jeopardy, putting a lot of money at risk. It’s put Nike in the position of making a choice.
“Nike is a brand that is of China and for China,” [Nike] CEO John Donahoe told Wall Street analysts last week in response to a question about competition from Chinese companies during a call about fourth-quarter earnings, the BBC reported.
That’s pretty clear. Donahue added that Nike always takes the “long view,” which in this context looks back at Nike’s 40 years in China and can be taken to mean that in the long run, he believes China will eclipse the United States.
Or he’s simply bowing to China’s brutal communist masters for the sake of making more money, hoping that Americans don’t get wind of his comments or have a problem with them. Or a bit of both.
Nike was recently criticized by a U.S. senator for turning a blind eye to allegations of forced labor in China, arguing that they’re making American consumers complicit in Beijing’s repressive policies.
Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on China’s repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in its western Xinjiang region, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said many U.S. companies hadn’t woken up to the fact that they were “profiting” from the Chinese government’s abuses.
“For far too long, companies like Nike, Apple, Amazon and Coca-Cola were using forced labor. They were benefiting from forced labor or sourcing from suppliers that were suspected of using forced labor,” Rubio said on June 10. “These companies, sadly, were making all of us complicit in these crimes.”
Rights groups, researchers, former residents, and some Western lawmakers say that Xinjiang authorities have facilitated forced labor by arbitrarily detaining around one million Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim minorities in a network of camps since 2016.
Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch, told the Senate panel that Beijing’s “extreme repression and surveillance” made human rights due diligence impossible for companies.
Nike officials didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
During the month of June, Nike has pretty much rejected the American flag as a symbol of inclusion.
Who says one flag can’t represent us all? Nike and the woke, including athletes who want to compete at the Olympics so they can use the moment to despise America rather than represent it.
Wall Street seems fine with Nike’s choice. The company’s shares rose by more than 14% during after-hours trade in New York. ✪