The news has been grim.
To add insult to injury, the election has emboldened white nationalists to co-opt one of America’s last remaining sneaker manufacturers, declaring them the “official shoe of white people.”
A little background: A few days after the election, New Balance’s Matthew LeBretton told The Wall Street Journal that “The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us, and frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction.”
Most of us can agree that it was impolitic at best for him to wade into partisan waters. A corporation that depends upon selling its wares to the general public would be wise to avoid partisan entanglements, particularly so soon after a bitter and divisive election.
But his pronouncement teaches us (as if we needed reminding) that words have consequences. And so it should come as absolutely no surprise that, in an election where the Republican nominee engaged in overt calls to racism (with policy proposals to match) that his pronouncement would, for many, place him and his company on the wrong side of the fence.
In the wake of his public relations miscue, white nationalists have attempted to ruin one of America’s last remaining producers of athletic shoes, staining it by association with their vile and unconscionable beliefs.
To those goons, I have a simple message: You can’t have it.
I refuse to let New Balance fall into the hands of those who betray American values–those who teach a philosophy of hate, exclusion and violence.
But I also refuse to follow my fellow liberal brethren and consign my New Balance shoes to trashcan, toilet or flame.
Instead, I take New Balance back. I take it back in the name of tolerance, respect and diversity.
I take it back in the name of the New Balance workers–both those from established American families and those who are transplants to these shores.
I take it back in the name of all that is good and decent in this world, conjuring a passion for the moment when we are, in Lincoln’s immortal words, touched once again by the better angels of our nature.
So I’ve taken a page from the book of Pete Seeger, as fundamentally decent a human being as there ever was. Let his words remind us that there are ideals to which we all must strive.