Social justice warriors are demanding the removal of a billboard in Portland, Ore., that features an offensive, bigoted advertisement…for shoes.
The billboard shows a pair of Dr. (“Doc”) Martens boots with red laces and the phrase, “ROCK THE HOLIDAYS.”
“Anti-hate” activists are losing their collective minds.
According to OregonLive.com, Left-wing race baiters are claiming that black Doc Martens with red laces are a white supremacist symbol that implies the wearer has shed blood for the cause. If the laces are white, they’re still white supremacists, but they haven’t committed an act of violence.
It’s true that the Southern Poverty Law Center lists the black-boot-red-lace combo as a skinhead symbol, but that shouldn’t mean much. For one thing, SPLC’s actual citation describes the pairing as “popular with skinheads as well as young people in all walks of life” (emphasis added).
Furthermore, SPLC isn’t the most reliable when it comes to progressive feelings. For example, it named the Quilliam organization (run by a moderate Muslim who advocates against radical Islam) as a hate group. It has also placed women on its LGBTQ hate listsimply for being politically conservative.
“Hate,” in this day and age, doesn’t mean what it used to.
Let’s take off our activist hats and don our common sense hats for a moment. First, consider the likelihood that an international, multi-million dollar company would publicly, knowingly advocate for white supremacy. Secondly, consider that the company would do this in one of the most progressive cities in the country! Thirdly, that it would do it a week before Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. And if none of this is purposeful, of what use is propagating the claim in the first place?
Assume for a moment that wearing this particular boot brand and color combo is in fact a public display of white supremacy. What would happen if normal, non-racist people—such as regular young people in all walks of life—started buying the boots as advertised? What would happen to that oppressive symbol of racism?
In the wise words of Simon Tam, founder of the Asian-only dance rock band “the Slants,” “seizing control of a racial slur” not only drains the slur of meaning. It also “can diminish the power of an oppressor.”
Or, maybe not everything is a trigger worthy of a hashtag war on social media. Maybe, as Sigmund Freud said about a banana, “Sometimes a shoe is just a shoe.”