#civilrights

African-American pastors’ Nike petition

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Will Nike flinch or listen?

Mark Parker
President/CEO
Nike World Headquarters
One Bowerman Drive
Beaverton, OR 97005

Dear Mr. Parker,

We, the undersigned, are people of faith and principle, united in our love for America and what it stands for. Many of us marched in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and have an established record of civic activism.

With that background, I hope you will understand how dismayed we were to learn that your company decided to “pull” a specially-designed shoe that celebrated America’s independence and the Betsy Ross flag. It has been reported that you made this decision based on objections from Colin Kaepernick, a celebrity activist and former professional athlete who has become the “face” of your brand.

We represent a variety of races, ethnicities, and creeds. And we agree that Mr. Kaepernick’s views on America and the flag are fringe opinions, not shared by any of us … especially the African Americans who marched against segregation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, we find Mr. Kaepernick’s views to be ill-informed and offensive, especially to veterans and others who have served this country.

Mr. Kaepernick does not represent us. Moreover, he has tainted our view of your brand. Removing the Betsy Ross flag shoes at his behest implies that your company shares his negative view of America, its founders, and the woman who designed the first flag.

How can we purchase merchandise for ourselves or our families from a company that holds those views of our country?

If this is not the case, we urge you to make it clear that you respect the American flag, its people, and its Founders. We ask that you sever your relationship with Mr. Kaepernick, who has become synonymous with radical anti-American sentiment. And we ask that you make amends to veterans by producing a select run of the Besty Ross shoes for the benefit of veterans groups and organizations that help military families.

For a long time, sport has been something that brings Americans together. Nike has been one of the companies we associate with “Team USA.” Please don’t tarnish that legacy by continuing to cater to anti-American politics.

Sincerely,

Rev. Bill Owens

President, Coalition of African American Pastors

Link to petition here

Compelling the cake maker?

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The transcript of the Supreme Court on the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) hearing can be found here. It is 113 pages long (but double spaced). What is fascinating is the way the case is argued from both sides and the words of several judges who should just enforce the tenets of the constitution not leverage personal prejudices. CM doesn’t profess to be a lawyer but the biased language is pretty obvious, including one set of attorneys debating Colorado laws of  2018 rather than those of 2012 when the dispute first came to light.

The court session covered ground from anniversary cakes at a Michelin 2-star restaurant, mixed race or mixed religion marriages, an African American designer making a cross for the Ku Klux Klan and even the fairness of rejecting an order to bake a cake to celebrate Kristallnacht. The case also looked into the problems that might be created for a baker on a remote US military base who may not want to bake a cake for a same sex marriage because of his/her religious beliefs.

Mainstream media coverage has been pretty obvious but the transcript puts many things to light including the fact that all sides acknowledge the baker was prepared to sell a rainbow cake and almost anything else in the shop to the couple, just not the “compelled” words they wanted on it, which triggered the baker’s religious beliefs and led the Supreme Court to suggest that the baker’s 1st Amendment rights must be sustained.

Religious beliefs are a murky backwater where justification on a plethora of topics can be concocted. CM first learnt of “proper” religious fervor on a trip to Israel a decade ago. Seeing people wail as the were baptized in the River Jordan, watching them cry inconsolably as they placed pictures of family members atop the marble slab that Jesus’ body was laid on after his crucifixion, the scene of Jews of all ethnicities praying at the Western Wall or Muslims feverishly protecting entry to the Temple Mount. This is not the average punter going to a Sunday Mass or praying five times a days to Mecca. It is on another level. Some people walked bearing a cross along the exact route that Jesus did. Religion to some takes a different life form, some of it for the worse.

To think that a $500 wedding cake has cost both sides $100,000s in legal fees goes to show how serious both sides were prepared to defend their legal rights. No matter how silly some may view the outcome, the question remains whether the 14th Amendment be changed to more specifically define LGBT protections. Associate Justice Sotomayor made this point in her closing remarks, “That’s what the public anti-discrimination laws require.”