Cranbury Township Mayor James Taylor provides our readers with his column that appears each month in the Cranbury Press/Windsor-Hights Herald.
Colin Kaepernick and Nike, Mayor Gerry Tamburro of Monroe and President Trump… it sounds like the opening to a bad joke, but over the past week, these are the issues raised to me for comment.
For those unaware, Nike was about to release a pair of sneakers that chose to place Betsy Ross’ original American flag on the heel of the shoe. Kaepernick, a social activist and former professional athlete, demanded that Nike remove the pair of shoes because the flag was racist since it flew at a time when slavery was legal in the country. Nike responded by removing the shoes from the market.
At the same time, Mayor Tamburro, like Kaepernick, issued another press release on his opposition to Cranbury Township having a right to develop our Master Plan as we see appropriate.
Mayor Tamburro made a couple of interesting points in the release, which defended the idea that people should not need to understand the area in which they buy a home or do basic due diligence when buying a home. He also threatened to close roads to our trucks, ignoring the basic fact that you cannot distinguish a Monroe truck from a Cranbury truck. Any restrictions will harm Monroe to a greater extent as its trucks cannot access the turnpike without first being on a Monroe road. But even if he was to place that burden on the Monroe tax payers, he fails to account for the fact that the main roads are county roads, which he has no control.
The great thing about the United States is that Colin Kaepernick and Mayor Tamburro retain the same rights to express their views even if absent logic.
Because a flag flew at a time when slavery was legal in America does not make it racist. By that definition, anything that existed prior to the Civil War would also be racist. In 1789 when the Constitution was adopted, five of the 13 colonies had banned slavery. While Monroe’s threats and view to discard 30 years of planning is absent logic given that its request is illegal.
Tamburro, Nike and Kaepernick have the right to express their views, because on one hot day in July of 1776, 13 colonies with different interests and values united to create a great experiment and tell King George we were going to decide our own fate and course.
King George did not simply say, “Thank you for this well thought out Declaration of Independence, I hope your experiment works. Let’s have a cup of tea and toast your good fortune.” No, we fought a war, lost many lives and thankfully ended up resulting in establishing the United States of America.
Unfortunately and disgracefully, not all people were free as slavery still existed in eight of the colonies. So, we fought another war. This war tore our country apart, but the results were worth the sacrifice giving a large part of our population the freedom they rightly deserved and never should have lost.
We then faced two horrible world wars, where people of all ethnicities and colors bound together to fight for our freedom. Many more lives were lost or forever altered fighting for those rights we declared in 1776.
If any of these wars had gone against us, we would not have the freedom to discuss flags on sneakers (our Besty Ross flag would have no meaning), or whether a warehouse should be built. The flag we fly would not be the one that I pledge allegiance, too, the one I am proud to see flying and the one that gives hope to those seeking to come to America.
Our country exists, our democracy exists and our freedom exists because we embraced our past warts and all and looked to learn from them, not ignore them or seek to be diminished by the past. We understood that freedom required sacrifice and we needed to honor that sacrifice.
There is a movement throughout the country that we can and will improve our future by erasing our past. We’re toppling statues because some find them offensive, while the given justification is different the premise is no better than the Taliban in Afghanistan who tore down historically important statues and hundreds of years of history because they saw offense.
We are looking for symbols to point to as horrible that are not such as the Betsy Ross flag. We’re removing holidays from Thomas Jefferson and George Washington in a way to be politically correct, even if more people are offended by the removal than are pacified.
George Orwell said it best, “The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their understanding of history.”
Today, we’re becoming a society where our leaders are emboldening a lack of accountability and following the attraction of socialism in lieu of freedom and accountability. Buy a home in a warehouse district, I will demand that the other town change its zoning. Have student loan debt, then we’ll have all taxpayers absorb the cost and remove you from the responsibility even if those who avoided debt or minimized debt worked to put themselves through school, went to community college or delayed their education.
We’ve become a country where political figures are rooted for like a sports team and we ignore information to follow the path of “giveaways,” while looking to celebrities and athletes for their views. We ignore the staggering censorship on our college campuses. College campuses were once places where freedom of speech was primary and while you did not need to listen, you had to respect differing views.
No, we do not tell Nike, Kaepernick or Tamburro that they cannot express their views. They have the right to voice their views and I’ll support that right because that is what our country was founded on; the right to be free and to have rights, to free speech even if devoid of logic. But I do not have to agree with them or say their views on these matters are not dangerous.