Archived Story

Much ado about blue blazers

Published 4:06pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Democrats and Republicans alike are waging war over our men and women in uniform.

No, not our soldiers that are actually waging war in the Middle East.

Our politicians are up in arms over the uniforms our Olympic athletes will wear at the opening ceremony of this year’s Olympic games in London. That’s right. While our soldiers are risking their lives in Afghanistan, while our economy is slumping and many Americans are struggling to just put food on their family’s table, our elected officials are busy making speeches on the Senate and House floors about uniforms.

So what’s all the hoopla about?

Are they angry that our athletes are once again being forced to wear ridiculous berets that look like they came from the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man’s closet?

Nope.

Are they upset that American designer Ralph Lauren emblazoned the snazzy blue coats with a near life-size horse and polo player?

Negative.

It has more to do with who stitched that horse on the jacket and created those awful berets.

The Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms were manufactured in China.

Gasp!

I realize that news may come as a shock. I’ll give you a moment to compose yourself.

Yes, our athletes are competing for the United States and they will march into the games in red, white and blue uniforms that were made in China. Is that shocking?

It shouldn’t be.

Our nation’s textile and clothing factories have been shuttering their doors for years.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 97,000 Americans still have jobs in apparel production. Most of those jobs exist to make highly specialized products like DuPont Kevlar uniforms that outfit our other men and women in uniform.

I’d say that it’s a safe bet that nearly half the clothing in America’s closets is made in China. The rest is probably made in the Philippines or Mexico or Taiwan.

Sure, the uniforms could have been made here. In fact, Ralph Lauren has agreed to make the uniforms for the 2014 Winter Olympics right here in the U.S.

That will be a change from 2008 and 2010 when the uniforms, also designed by Ralph Lauren, were made abroad.

There is of course an election coming up in November.

Is this outrage just political grandstanding? Maybe. But the real question is are we missing the point?

Instead of yelling and screaming about the tag in blue blazer, shouldn’t we be using our voices to cheer on our athletes who are representing our country?

I vote yes.

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