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Nike Pulls Shoe With Betsy Ross Flag After Objections from Colin Kaepernick

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 2, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 2, 2019 |


Donald Trump hasn’t weighed in yet (as of this writing), but he will, and it’s probably going to be another one of those controversies he uses in order to inflame his base, piss people off, and dominate the news cycle. My advice: Don’t take the bait. Roll your eyes. Ignore it.

So the story is this: Nike created a pair of sneakers with the Betsy Ross flag on it — it’s an early American flag from the 1770s with 13 stars for the 13 colonies. The shoes look like this:

Colin Kaepernick — who settled last year with the NFL after they basically blackballed him from the league for kneeling during the National Anthem — has a big endorsement deal with Nike, and he was like, “Hey, y’all: You shouldn’t sell be selling these sneakers, because the Betsy Ross symbol is offensive because of its ties to slavery.” And Nike was like, “Oh sh*t,” and so they pulled the sneaker, even after it had been shipped to stores. They told retailers not to sell it and to send the shoe back to the warehouses.

The MAGA crowd, obviously, is livid (I won’t bother embedding any of their tweets, because they’re just gonna rile you up). In fact, the Governor of Arizona pulled an incentive deal for Nike in his state because of their decision to pull the sneaker:

Removing job opportunities to own the libs.

OK, first off: This is not about Betsy Ross. Ross didn’t really even design the flag, other than to tell the committee designing the flag to use five-pointed stars instead of six-pointed stars. There were a lot of people who put the work in to create the first flag, and it’s been attributed to Ross because it made for a good story.

Second, the flag does seem to celebrate a period in the United States history when the 13 original states were aggressively racist, having not only wiped out Native Americans but also supported slavery.

But most importantly, even putting the country’s shameful history aside, the Betsy Ross flag has been co-opted presently by racist and white extremist groups. It’s one of the symbols of the “Patriot Movement,” a right-wing militia group that opposes non-white immigration — the Patriot movement is also tied to the Waco cult and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and the murder of George Tiller, a doctor who provided abortions. It’s the flag of white nationalism.

Here’s a KKK flyer that was passed out to children — note the Betsy Ross flag.


Here’s a KKK patch.

Nike was right to pull the sneaker, but Nike never should have put Colin Kaepernick in this position in the first place. They should’ve done some cursory research before designing the sneaker, and now they’ve given Trump and the racist MAGA crowd another issue with which they can make hay for the next three months. And you know there’s a MAGA racist is Wyoming somewhere who is refusing to send the sneakers back to the Nike warehouse and plans to sell them for a fortune to Mike Cernovich and other white supremacists who will proudly wear them to own the libs.

Tune it out.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Getty Images