The Trump-supporting right lost its collective shit this week when Nike unveiled its 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign starring Colin Kaepernick. Many were quick to blast the sportswear giant for supporting a man who kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial injustices.
Not only did critics call for a Nike boycott and set fire to their Nike-branded possessions, they also used the controversy to exploit the death of Pat Tillman—the NFL star-turned Army Ranger who was killed in Afghanistan.
Conservatives began posting a fake Nike ad with Tillman’s military photo along with the words: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.” It was the same slogan featured on Kaepernick’s polarizing campaign image.
Jon Krakauer, the man who wrote Tillman’s biography, said he found this stunt ironic and completely off base. In fact, Krakauer is convinced Tillman would’ve participated in the protests started by Kaepernick.
“Pat would have found Kaepernick an extremely admirable person for what he believed in,” Krakauer, author of Where Men Win Glory, told The Washington Post. “I have no doubt if he was in the NFL today, he would be the first to kneel. So there is irony about what is going on.”
Krakauer’s statement arrived just days after Tillman’s widow, Marie Tillman, urged the public to stop politicizing her late husband’s death.
“Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman's service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us. We are too great of a country for that,” she said in a statement Monday. “Those that serve fight for the American ideals of freedom, justice and democracy […] The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one's heart—no matter those views—is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for. Even if they didn't always agree with those views.”