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:
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Update: release is indefinitely postponed. Retailers are being asked to return the shoes to Nike. Celebrate the upcoming #IndependenceDay holiday with these Air Max 1s featuring the flag sewn by Betsy Ross. For a closer look at this upcoming release, tap the link in our bio.
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:
Words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision. I am embarrassed for Nike. 3/— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
Instead of celebrating American history the week of our nation’s independence, Nike has apparently decided that Betsy Ross is unworthy, and has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism. 5/— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
It is a shameful retreat for the company. American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it. 6/— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
Nike has made its decision, and now we’re making ours. I’ve ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw all financial incentive dollars under their discretion that the State was providing for the company to locate here. 7/— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike. We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history. 8/— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
And finally, it shouldn’t take a controversy over a shoe for our kids to know who Betsy Ross is. A founding mother. Her story should be taught in all American schools. In the meantime, it’s worth googling her. 9/9— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
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.
Header Image Source: Getty Images