The College of the Ozarks, a school you’ve probably never heard of until right this moment, has done the institutional version of setting its Nike gear on fire by terminating its contract with the company, citing Nike’s controversial Colin Kaepernick ad.
The ad, which appears in print and on video, prominently features Kaepernick along with the tag line, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Here, uhm, more on that, in their own words:
“In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America,” said College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis. “If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them. We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform.”
Dr. Marci Linson, vice president for patriotic activities and dean of admissions at C of O, oversees patriotic activities at the College and safeguards the College’s patriotic goal: to encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country, and willingness to defend it.
“Nike is free to campaign as it sees fit, as the College is free, and honor-bound by its mission and goals, to ensure that it respects our country and those who truly served and sacrificed,” Linson said.
So, reader, I got curious about this small, private school in Point Lookout, Mo. so committed to caucasity and “patriotism” that it would shake the proverbial table over it (and also, have a “vice president for patriotic activities”—what in the Orwellian hell?).
Here’s what I learned browsing through the school’s poorly designed website:
- The school likes to refer to itself as “Hard Work U,” which clearly doesn’t play in the same division as “Ball So Hard U”
- No tuition is charged but all students work on campus. Hrmmm, sounds a bit like indentured servitude but, you know, not accruing debt is nice?
- There are dedicated sections for “Vocational Education,” “Christian Education,” “Cultural Education,” and “Patriotic Education”
- “Patriotic education” apparently doesn’t include honoring a citizen’s right to protest and recognizing that, as a constitutionally-protected right, it is among the most patriotic things you can do. Instead...
- Under “opportunities,” the College has listed the following “decorum” mandate: “All members of the College community are expected to stand, be respectful, and attentive when colors are presented and anytime the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, and/or when the Star Spangled Banner is played/sung.”
- Their team mascot is the bobcat. Cute.
Surprising absolutely no one, the School of the Ozarks is predominantly white—and by predominantly, I mean 93.6 percent white. As in, mayonnaise strives to be that white-white. But like many other primarily white institutions, the College of the Ozarks managed to corral the six black people who attend the school and strategically place them throughout the website. Because, “Hard Work U,” while shitting on the Constitution, still wants you to know they appreciate diversity. Or something.
Of course, it is the right of every Saltine American to burn the apparel (and apparel contracts) they want to burn. It’s all a form of free speech, it’s all protected, and it’s all within the realm of patriotism to do so. The College of the Ozarks realizes this at least partially, but the larger issue here is how impossibly, stupidly narrow “patriotism” is defined for them (and others like them)—boiling down, essentially, to “honoring” the military, despite the fact that many service members have defended Kaepernick and other athletes’ right to protest.
But why listen to the service members you’re allegedly honoring when you can use them as a PR tool?