Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is defending Nike’s decision to do away with the Revolutionary Flag on the heel of it’s limited edition Independence Day inspired Air Max shoes, and he thinks Americans should thank the company for caving to political pressure.
Beto had noted that “the version of the flag that was used on Nike shoes in question has by some extremist/white nationalist groups been appropriated”
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) July 3, 2019
“Beto on the Nike/Betsy Ross flag controversy: ‘I think its really important to take into account the impression that kind of symbol would have for many of our fellow Americans, respect the decision Nike made and grateful for the conversation (that it is provoking),” Jewish Insider’s Ben Jacobs posted to Twitter Wednesday.
“Beto had noted that ‘the version of the flag that was used on Nike shoes in question has by some extremist/white nationalist groups been appropriated,’” Jacobs wrote.
Several folks were quick to post images from President Obama’s inauguration, which included two giant Betsy Ross American flags draped on the U.S. Capitol.
The flag – with 13 five-pointed stars arranged in a circle on a field of blue alongside 13 white and red bars – was the symbol of the American revolution and independence from England. It’s literally the flag the country, then just 13 colonies, was founded under 243 years ago.
Nike issued a special “USA” edition of its iconic Air Max 1 ahead of the July Fourth holiday in celebration of the country’s independence that featured the flag on the heel, only to recall the shoes days later after former NFL player-turned-race-activist Colin Kaepernick convinced the company the flag is offensive to black Americans.
The Associated Press reports:
Kaepernick reached out to Nike after learning they planned to release the sneaker to explain that the flag recalls an era when black people were enslaved and that it has been appropriated by white nationalist groups, a person familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press. …
The decision caused an instant backlash among conservatives who accused Nike of denigrating U.S. history, with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tweeting that he is asking the state’s Commerce Authority to withdraw financial incentives promised to Nike to build a plant in the state.
Others expressed surprise that the symbol known as the Betsy Ross flag, so named after the beloved Philadelphia woman credited with designing it, could be considered offensive. Although some extremist groups appear to have appropriated the flag, it is not widely viewed as a symbol of hate, and is used in museums that focus on 18th century U.S. history.
Regardless, Nike has a massive contract with the failed football quarterback to help push a social justice narrative, and that’s more important than the freedoms symbolized by the American flag.
Nike “pulled the shoe based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday” and denied charges that the move is “anti-American.”
“Anti-American” or not, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others contend the shoe recall is ridiculous, and argued it speaks to much bigger problems in America than the symbol sewn into shoes.
“If we are in a political environment where the American flag has become controversial to Americans, I think we have a problem,” McConnell said.
Regardless of what O’Rourke has to say, the folks who know the true symbolism behind the Betsy Ross flag contend it has nothing to do with hate, and suggest it’s likely as fitting now as it was in 1776.
“Personally, I’ve always seen it as a representation of early America,” Lisa Moulder, director of the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, told the AP. “The young nation was not perfect, and it is still not perfect.”