Wait, Do I Have to Throw Away My New Balance Shoes?

Today I was watching a video in which comedian Chris Gethard examines a replay of his last appearance on The Late Show. The video is very funny, particularly something that I don’t want to spoil.

Near the beginning of the video, Chris, noted that he had been wearing New Balance shoes, saying, “None of us knew that New Balance shoes were Nazi shoes back then!”

I had to pause the video. What was this? Was New Balance a Nazi-supporting company? I had never heard of this, which is a problem, because I’ve been wearing the same pair of New Balance shoes for about 10 years now. Have I been sending the wrong message by wearing these shoes?

I dug around a bit and learned that while New Balance did support Trump in the presidential election (they said they believed Trump would keep more manufacturing jobs in the US, despite the fact that they only make 25% of their shoes in the US), the Nazi part isn’t something the company did. Rather, the association is the result of a white supremacist blog urging supporters to buy New Balance shoes.

So this creates less of a dilemma, but a dilemma nonetheless. Do I need to buy new shoes? If so, which brand should I support?


7 Responses to “Wait, Do I Have to Throw Away My New Balance Shoes?”

  1. Candy Mercer says:

    As a reforming SJW – I have been highly critical of purity tests, slurs and bullying on the left. It has been hard to find stable ground because that has been my home. I am just very uncomfortable with this strain of activism.

    Your shoe dilemma is a good example of the purity tests. While I am on the side of supporting good businesses, and will sometimes not frequent a business, I am worried about how all of this moralizing as a form of self harm. I get the need for it, my core ideas of tolerance, free speech et al have been tested like never before, and I have ended relationships with racists, not for a comment or two, but for an entire worldview that is anathema to my core principles.

    Believe me, I have found DJT distasteful from the early 80s, it was clear he was just a cruel person, but I have tried to have compassion for his supporters. I will admit it is hard at times, but it seems like still the best thing to do, default to kindness.

    My advice is to base your decision on how hard YOU feel about this. I would like to think you would not be judged by your shoe choice (full disclosure I am wearing NB slides right now).

    If you look hard enough at any product/person/idea you can find something problematic. Which hill do you chose to die on? I am aiming for something bigger than my shoe choice.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, Candy! I would also hope that I’m not judged on my shoe choice–I had never thought about that until today.

  2. Paul Howard says:

    Many people have supported someone for reasonable reasons (and ignored the “less reasonable” reasons). That doesn’t mean you need to stop purchasing their product if you like.
    Beyond that, just because a group you dislike decides to “adopt” something, doesn’t mean you should stop buying it. If that was the case, groups could “destroy” companies they dislike by adopting them and driving the main-stream away.
    Unless the company’s own philosophy clearly is at odds with your own you should be able to continue to wear/buy something they make with a reasonably clear conscious.

  3. Nik says:

    Shoes are a particular thing. If you can find a pair that fits you properly and lasts then short of them actually murdering puppies and babies to make your shoes you should probably stick with them. Just because a white supremacist also likes your shoes is no reason to boycott a company. Even if they were a “nazi” company back in the day it’s still no reason to boycott a modern company that most likely has no ties remaining.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Well, “boycott” is a strong word, and not one that I use. I was just asking if people might see that I’m wearing New Balance shoes and associate me with a group that I most certainly do not want to be associated with.

  4. Mingyang Lu says:

    Wear what you like, but our money says more than anything else, so if you decide to buy new shoes your reason is not unjustified, but its trivial enough that you should‘t feel it’s a “need”

    That said, Addidas are very comfortable and sexy

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