Colin Kaepernick – the man who made “taking a knee at football games” fashionable and who became an icon for the Black Lives Matter movement – has agreed to shill for human trafficker Nike sportswear. How is this for a mixed message?
For at least twenty years, Nike has been criticized for its labor practices – including the offshoring of jobs to sub-contractors who use child labor and who practice human trafficking or modern day slavery to help Nike turn a very handsome profit.
Yes, Nike has been caught…
Kaepernick will be the face of Nike’s “Just Do It” 30th anniversary ad campaign. The initial image is a close up of Kaepernick’s face with the caption: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Yeah, believe in something… slavery.
According to Wikipedia and numerous sources, “Nike has been criticized for contracting with factories (known as Nike sweatshops) in countries such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico… The company has been subject to much critical coverage of the often poor working conditions and exploitation of cheap overseas labor employed in the free trade zones where their goods are typically manufactured.”
“Nike has faced criticism for the use of child labor in Cambodia and Pakistan… Nike continues to contract their production to companies that operate in areas where inadequate regulation and monitoring make it hard to ensure that child labor is not being used. A BBC documentary uncovered occurrences of child labor and poor working conditions in a Cambodian factory used by Nike. The documentary focused on six girls, who all worked seven days a week, often 16 hours a day.”
“As of July 2011, Nike stated that two-thirds of its factories producing Converse products still do not meet the company's standards for worker treatment. A July 2011 Associated Press article stated that employees at the company's plants in Indonesia reported constant abuse from supervisors.”
Sources for this criticism include Naomi Klein's book No Logo and Michael Moore documentaries… including the clips from the one below…
This brings us to Tom Malinowski, a candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th District. Tom used to be one of the good guys… or maybe it was just a stepping stone, a career move? Back in 2007, when Tom was a lobbyist for a human rights organization, he chastised the Bush administration for its “double-standard” on issues like Human Trafficking – putting foreign policy before principle and allowing regimes viewed as “allies” to get away with murder.
Fast forward to 2015, with Tom Malinowski now a member of the Obama administration and the top State Department appointee concerned with human rights. The Obama administration decides to put business interests before principle and in an effort to broaden the markets included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, reclassifies Malaysia’s human trafficking problem. The downgrade of the human trafficking crisis in that country comes just as hundreds of bodies of trafficking victims are discovered, buried in the forest.
160 members of Congress – a bi-partisan outpouring – condemn the Obama administration and its State Department for ignoring the plight of victims of modern day slavery. Here are some headlines…
State Department Watered Down Human Trafficking Report
Senators: State Department ‘Heartless,’ Lacks ‘Integrity’ After Politicized Human Trafficking Report
Lawmakers threaten to subpoena all information about inflated grades for countries that have failed to crack down on forced labor, prostitution
Earlier in May, 139 graves in camps for human trafficking victims were found near Malaysia’s northern border with Thailand.
160 Members of Congress Call on State Department to Not Upgrade Malaysia Ranking in 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report
These headlines are from May 2015. In June 2015, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and claims that it is all about the trade and passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Malinowski argues:
“I am convinced that, on balance, TPP will greatly aid the effort to advance human rights in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Apparently the double-standards that he decried in 2007, under the Bush administration, were okay in 2015, under the Obama administration. See how the cookie crumbles?
In July 2015, Ranking Democrat Congressman Lloyd Doggett sent a letter to the State Department chastising Tom Malinowski and others responsible for the Obama administration’s policies. Congressman Doggett wrote:
“Once again trade is being prioritized over trafficking enforcement. Bending the standards to reward a country that accepts trade in women, children and forced laborers is wrong. Malaysia adopting some new provision that will not be consistently enforced is no substitute for effective prosecution… It is easier to lower the standard than to insist that Malaysia protect trafficking victims… this (is) another indication that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not being used to bring about meaningful change on critical issues.”
We couldn’t agree more.