New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is in the news today for sending his private plane to China to get 1.7 million N95 masks for health care workers in Massachusetts.
This is, without a doubt, a good thing. It will save lives.
Robert Kraft is also the chairman and CEO of Kraft Group LLC, which donated one million dollars to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee. You could say that this amount is a pittance for someone worth seven billion dollars. You could also say that he gave more money to Donald Trump than most Americans will make in the next 20 years combined. Both are true.
It is hard for some people, some organizations, and some publications, to reconcile with the reality that some otherwise decent people voted for and still continue to support Donald Trump, and they twist themselves into logical origami trying to wrap their minds around it. There’s been an entire economy of reportage, politics, and polling built around solving this riddle. What trips them up—what remains the hidden speed bump—is their commitment to the lie that these are decent people. Because if you consider unambiguous racism and misogyny to be indecent, that assumed decency dissipates, and you’re left with people too selfish to care about Trump’s cruelty and those who support him specifically because of it. And what was real hard gets real easy.
Where Robert Kraft fits in that equation, I don’t know. I do know that this sort of billionaire philanthropy is the equivalent of a Mafia don delivering turkeys from a van on Thanksgiving. He is savvy and shrewd, so he knew that the bump in public opinion he’d receive from this act would swallow his support of the person most responsible for the mask shortage. Take a look, for instance, at the replies to Jemele Hill’s tweet, and how “decency” is repurposed as a weaponized balm that matters more than truth.
When the story of this year is written and remembered, there will be an urgency to honor those who stepped up during this crisis. And people like Robert Kraft—those who helped cause the crisis, either politically or financially—will stand and demand their trophies. Perhaps even one in his likeness.
I’m all for this as long as it’s honest. But I don’t know how he’d feel about a statue made of shit.