Editor’s Note: For an alternative viewpoint, please see CounterPoint: Kaepernick Was Right – Racists Love the Betsy Ross Flag
Nike (the quintessential American sportswear company) recently made this coy announcement: “Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured the old version of the American flag.”
So, why did Nike pull back its patriotic-themed shoe days before America’s 243rd birthday? Because Colin Kaepernick, the ex-NFL quarterback turned social justice warrior, believes (incorrectly) the so-called Betsy Ross flag — which was on the shoe’s heel — is a racist symbol.
Obviously, Kaepernick can believe anything he wants about the American flag that flew across the land during the War for Independence. And Nike, as a private company, is under no obligation to release a shoe adorned with the American flag via 1777. However, the entire episode is just the most recent example of political correctness gone wild.
According to sources in the know, Nike axed the shoe’s release after Kaepernick told executives he believes the early American flag is an offensive (racist) symbol that is associated with slavery. Apparently, because the flag appeared in an era in which slavery was present, the flag itself now represents the institution of servitude.
Going by that logic, basically anything associated with the United States of America before the end of the Civil War is now a racist symbol — and should be pulled off store shelves immediately.
But wait, let’s go one step further. If we agree with Kaepernick’s logic, virtually every historic relic from every country should be reassessed on the grounds of whether or not it is an offensive symbol that somehow perpetuates racism, due to the fact that slavery was once a worldwide institution (and is still practiced in some countries).
Of course, this is completely ludicrous — about as absurd as Kaepernick’s historical analysis of the context of the Betsy Ross flag itself.
Sadly, Kaepernick’s outrage and Nike’s decision to appease him (and other social justice warriors) shows how morally debauched America has become with PC idiocy. For instance, I doubt Kaepernick is aware that Betsy Ross was a strong opponent of slavery. Or that the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp on the 200th anniversary of her birth, which shows Ross presenting her newly stitched flag to General George Washington. In short, Betsy Ross, and the flag she created, is a hallmark of American history, a celebration of a world-changing event.
It is disingenuous, and factually wrong, to equate the Betsy Ross flag with oppression. In fact, the flag embodies the antithesis of oppression. It is the archetypal symbol of the fight against (British) tyranny. It represents freedom. It stood (and continues to stand for) independence.
As many have pointed out since this controversy erupted, just a few years ago barely anyone batted an eye when the same flag hung oh-so-prominently behind President Barack Obama during his second inauguration.
Even more telling, the Anti-Defamation League, no stranger to overzealously labeling inanimate objects and symbols with racist connotations, makes no mention of the Revolutionary War-era flag in its Hate Symbols Database.
Perhaps the most ironic aspect of this debacle is that Kaepernick, while playing in the NFL, refused to stand during the unfurling of the modern American flag during the singing of the national anthem. And in America — the land of the free, home of the brave — he has the freedom to do so.
Yes, the United States was founded upon the bedrock principle of personal liberty. The American flag, from the days when it had 13 stars to its present iteration with 50, has represented freedom since centuries ago, and will continue to embody freedom for centuries to come — even if Nike executives (and former football players) think otherwise.