Plank controversy overblown

Years ago, I remember a liberal activist saying she was disappointed in a number of her fellow liberals because for them, she said, it is not enough that they disagree with Republicans and conservatives, they have to hate Republicans and conservatives. They accept no gray areas, they accept no compromise, and they will never engage in dialogue with Republicans and conservatives as they see them as the enemy.

I was reminded of those comments when I heard of the completely overblown firestorm created by some on the left with regard to the comment Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank made with regard to President Donald Trump.


Mr. Plank — who is a member of President Trump's American Manufacturing Council — dared to simply say after a meeting with the president that "to have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country; people can really grab that opportunity."

For a growing number of activists on the left, President Trump is a lightning rod for their anger, hate and rage like no president in our lifetimes. For them, there is no compromise. There will be no dialogue. You must line up with them exactly on every single issue or else. For them, there can be no greater crime that to say something nice, rational or even neutral about President Trump.


For them, Kevin Plank committed just such a crime, and now he and Under Armour must be made to pay a price for such heresy.

Sadly, aside from the "Usual Suspects" haters on the left, Mr. Plank is also being criticized by some celebrities under contract to Under Armour. Three of the most prominent being NBA all-star Stephen Curry, actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and ballerina Misty Copeland.

Messrs. Curry and Johnson and Ms. Copeland are not only great talents in their respective fields, but they truly and continually give back to their communities in real and lasting ways. No doubt each has also had false and even hurtful things written or said about them. It often comes with the "celebrity" territory.

All the more reason they should have held their fire until they had all the facts and heard all sides of the issue. The same advice might apply to Torrey Smith, a wide receiver with the San Francisco 49ers and formerly with the Baltimore Ravens. Again, a great talent and someone who gives back to the community.

And yet, with regard to the Kevin Plank/President Trump "controversy," Mr. Smith said in part on his personal Twitter account: "My hate for Trump…"

"Hate." Does Mr. Smith truly "hate" the president?

As one who worked in the Reagan and Bush 1 White Houses, was homeless as a child and have at least a basic understanding of sports — years ago, I spent some time trying to play hockey for a living and was also invited to a major-league baseball camp — I would offer this advice to Kevin Plank: President Barack Obama used to rightfully refer to certain issues or controversies as "teachable moments": Mr. Plank has one of those teachable moments now and should use it to create a needed dialogue.

Kevin Plank should host a conference on his Under Armour campus and invite those under contract to the company who have condemned him and his Trump statement to openly engage in a dialogue on the issue. Additionally, he should invite a select number of journalists to cover the event.


Things are getting out of control in a hurry when it comes to the rhetoric regarding Donald Trump and those who might hold positive or even neutral opinions about him.

A few years ago, a great ad campaign for Under Armour emphasized: "It's us vs. them. We must protect this house."

Now, with some on the left wanting to figuratively burn down the Under Armour house, that catch-phrase has never been more appropriate.

It's time to talk.

Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of the memoir "Rolling Pennies in the Dark" (Simon & Schuster, 2012). His email is