Across the borderline

In an ideal world I’d be writing some half thought through nonsense about the Whitecaps pre-season games and why they still haven’t signed a proven goal scorer but (Spoiler Alert!)  this isn’t an ideal world and it seems to be moving at a rapid rate in the wrong direction right now.

That means we all have to think about moral choices (both big and small) with regard to how we deal with what is happening and one of those choices (that is both big and small depending on your own personal context) is whether to travel to the USA to support the Whitecaps given the capriciously cruel nature of the current travel ban.

Unfortunately (Spoiler Alert!)  there is no right answer to this question because, unless you are on the extreme end of the political spectrum, the world is a complicated place and actions and inactions have diverse and varied consequences.

And (Spoiler Alert!) if you agree with the current immigration ban then this really isn’t for you.

I guess the first question to ask is “Do boycotts actually work?”

Well that depends on what you mean by “work” and what you mean by “boycott” (Wait! Don’t go away! It gets even vaguer as we go on!).

A cursory glance through a few academic studies indicates that individual boycotts rarely make a difference against nation states unless they are accompanied by more robust measures such as divestment of stocks and shares by institutions and trade sanctions at the government level.

We are a very long way away from such a scenario no matter how quickly the Trump administration is moving so we have to accept that any boycott is really about individual preference rather than the belief that something will genuinely be changed.

If you are on the boycott side of the fence however make sure that you don’t just not travel to the USA, make sure you contact a hotel, car rental, airline etc. to let them know why you won’t be using their services.

Money talks to this President more than any other I suspect.

The real irony for fans of the Whitecaps is that any boycott would almost certainly be directly damaging to States that (on the whole) vehemently oppose Trump and it’s a reasonable bet that such States will miraculously find their federal funding cut as the months go by.

And let’s not forget that every hotel cancelled and every restaurant not visited almost certainly hits many of the immigrants the protest is designed to support given the low wage economy many exist within.

Short term pain for long term gain is much easier to bear when the brunt of it doesn’t hit you.

Yet not visiting the USA isn’t just about changing policy, it’s also about a certain moral repugnance to the current situation that transcends the confines of practicality.

After all our absence may not project any kind of effective condemnation but our presence tacitly condones.

One solution to the squaring of the circle that I’ve seen is that every visit be marked by a donation to a group that is pushing back against the Administration (the ACLU for example) and though there are ways in which that feels a little like buying off one’s own conscience it does at least have the merits of being a concretely practical measure.

But following the Whitecaps to Seattle and Portland isn’t really about individual choices because (almost by definition) supporters are travelling as a group and if it turns out that one of that group is not permitted to travel to a game based solely on the current ban then it seems almost impossible to argue that others should.

No doubt fans of both the Sounders and the Timbers (and others) are wrestling with the same conundrums and, as mentioned earlier, the situation is moving so quickly to reduce all of this to a mere snapshot of a few thoughts at a particular moment in time and is as much a way of finding out what I think than it is offering advice or instruction to anybody else.

Obviously I didn’t come up with an actual answer (That would be madness!) but maybe the questions are a little bit clearer?

Next time out some actual half though through nonsense about soccer!  .


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