Nike’s decision to cater to social justice poster boy Colin Kaepernick’s demand to pull its classic American flag shoe from shelves before the 4th of July holiday is becoming more nonsensical by the minute, as photos of the Betsy Ross Flag flying over former President Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration ceremony go viral and as a prominent African American journalist insists that the sneakers aren’t racist.
As photos of the same bigger-than-life 13 stars and stripes Betsy Ross flag draped across Obama’s backdrop spread across social media waves and the Internet, black award-winning author and journalist Sophia A. Nelson laughs off arguments that the flag also flown over First American President George Washington’s inauguration is racist – indicating that Kaepernick and Nike have it all wrong and need a United States history lesson.
“I’m a black woman whose ancestors were enslaved in Georgia and South Carolina under horrific conditions, [b]ut I disagree with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who reportedly contends that because many founders of our nation owned slaves or supported slavery, the flag they fought under to win independence from Britain is an offensive symbol,” Nelson wrote in her Fox News column. “And I believe Nike was wrong to capitulate to Kaepernick this week and halt the release of an athletic shoe bearing the original American flag on the heel, saying that it could ‘unintentionally offend’ some people because it was the symbol of our nation during the era of slavery.”
Not the same America
Nelson agrees with former Republican Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the immoral institution of slavery is “birth defect” on America’s history, but she argues that it must never be erased or forgotten.
“Should we be ashamed and embarrassed of all of American history because our nation was and still is flawed? Should we refuse to display today’s flag and any other patriotic symbol and abolish Independence Day celebrations? And while we’re at it, should we abolish our national anthem, because Kaepernick led a protest movement of NFL players to kneel when the anthem was played? Some people object to the Pledge of Allegiance – should that be thrown out as well?” the acclaimed author posed. “Obviously, the answer is ‘no’ to all these questions. A great nation does not run from its history. A great nation rises above its sins and flaws and learns from the past in order to build a brighter future. What we need to do in 2019 is focus on our present – and our future.”
She said calm, rational and informed dialogue should be the focus – not condemning and finger-pointing campaigns like Nike has inserted itself in the middle of – inciting hatred, separatism and racial tensions instead of unity.
“This nation is deeply divided right now on matters of race, values, culture and politics; it is as if we are still fighting a civil war of sorts, when what we need to be doing is talking to and listening to one another – really listening,” Nelson impressed. “The reality is that we will never fix racism and systemic racial inequalities by using our political and social capital on stunts like the one Nike just pulled. Instead, we are yelling at one another. We are pointing fingers. We are angry.”
What about Obama, Kaep & Nike?
Former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick has a major problem with the average American sporting the shoes donning the Betsy Ross flag – which he instantaneously turned into a symbol of racism with one complaint – but he and Democrats apparently have no issue with Obama flying the “offensive” flag above his second inaugural celebration just several years before President Donald Trump took office.
“While Democrats and media pundits pounce to decry the Betsy Ross flag as racially problematic – with one even likening the symbol to Nazi swastikas – the very same flag flew prominently during then-President Barack Obama’s second inauguration ceremony in 2013,” Fox News reported. “The reminder that the flag was displayed during Obama’s inauguration came amid the controversy from Nike halting the release of shoes bearing the flag, which flew during the Revolutionary War.”
Trump's 2020 re-election campaign communications director, Tim Murtaugh, took to social media to comment on how Democrats are using the latest Nike episode to play the race card and pander for the minority vote.
“Democrats running for president have officially lost it – Beto & Castro strongly imply that the Betsy Ross flag is a symbol of hatred. Do the rest of the Dems agree?” Murtaugh tweeted. “Pictured here, of course, is the notorious flag prominently featured at President Obama's 2nd inauguration.”
Donald Trump, Jr., also chimed in to deride those who were easily convinced the early American flag displayed on the back of Nike's Air Max 1 USA is a symbol of racism.
“[W]eird that no one had a problem with The Betsy Ross Flag when it flew over Obama’s inauguration,” the president’s son tweeted.
Baiting more racial tensions
After the divisive social anarchist Kaepernick – who signed a $30-million endorsement contract with the sports apparel giant last year despite the fact he is no longer a professional athlete – voiced his concern that the flag-donning shoe represented the advocacy of slavery, Nike pulled the shoe and announced its new fear that it could “unintentionally offend” people.
Leftists quickly jumped on the opportunity to incite more racial tensions by commenting on Kaepernick’s and Nike’s move.
“The controversy quickly worked its way into the national political bloodstream, with some Democratic presidential candidates siding with Nike,” Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis noted. “Liberal pundits and 2020 presidential candidates alike jumped on the controversy, with former HUD Secretary Julián Castro saying he was ‘glad to see’ Nike removed the shoes over the ‘painful’ symbol that he compared to the Confederate flag.”
Castro tried his hardest to seize the opportunity to insinuate that white supremacists, KKK members and Republicans would use the shoes to spread racial hatred.
“There are a lot of things in our history that are still very painful,” Castro told CBS News. “[T]he Confederate flag that still flies in some places and is used as a symbol.”
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke also commended Nike as a social justice champion for axing its U.S. flag shoes, asserting –without any proof – that “white nationalist groups” have “appropriated” the Betsy Ross flag, which he deems as “hurtful.”
“I think it’s really important to take into account the impression that kind of symbol would have for many of our fellow Americans," O’Rourke tweeted.
Princeton-educated Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson quickly took the side of Democrats and mad a remark resembling socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s contention – that Trump and his immigrant detention centers resembled Adolf Hitler and his Nazi German concentration camps – by insisting that conservatives wearing Nike shoes with the old American flag on them is the equivalent of wearing Swastikas and condoning white supremacism.
MSNBC guest Michael Eric Dyson echoed the Democrats’ comments, saying that conservatives were wrong to decry "political correctness" on Nike's part.
“[Conservatives are wrong to blame Nike for] political correctness,” Dyson told MSNBC. “Words matter. Symbols matter, too. Why don't we wear a swastika for July 4th? Because, I don't know, it makes a difference. The cross burning on somebody's lawn. Why don't we just have a Nike celebration of the cross – those symbols are symbols of hate. So we can take PC culture back.”
Anti-Defamation League Senior Research Fellow for the Center on Extremism Mark Pitcavage argued that the Betsy Ross flag is predominantly used to celebrate patriotism – not racism.
“We view it as essentially an innocuous historical flag,” Pitcavage told The Associated Press Tuesday. “It's not a thing in the white supremacist movement.”
Ted Cruz schools Kaep over flag, 4th
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) blasted Kaepernick for tweeting a quote from Frederick Douglas – a former slave, politician and abolitionist – arguing that the social justice activist took his words out of context to incite more racial tensions.
Kaepernick painstakingly excerpted Douglas’ speech to fashion it to his anti-American sentiment.
“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? This Fourth of July is yours, not mine… There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour,” Kaepernick tweeted the carefully selected words of Douglas on July 4.
News aggregator Twitchy brought up Kaepernick’s misleading post that Cruz addressed.
“Failed NFL QB Colin Kaepernick thought it would be a good idea to share this Frederick Douglass quote in an effort to bash the United States on Independence Day,” Twitchy noted. “His problem, however, is that he didn’t read the rest of the speech and sharing this quote out of context is just plain embarrassing.”
Cruz was quick to commend Douglass’ speech as “mighty and historic,” but pointed out that Kaepernick purposely edited out significant points.
“You quote a mighty and historic speech by the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, but, without context, many modern readers will misunderstand – two critical points: (1) This speech was given in 1852, before the Civil War, when the abomination of slavery still existed. Thanks to Douglass and so many other heroes, we ended that grotesque evil and have made enormous strides to protecting the civil rights of everybody [and] (2) Douglass was not anti-American; he was, rightly and passionately, anti-slavery. Indeed, he concluded the speech as follows: ‘Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country,'” Cruz tweeted Friday.
Cruz went further.
“Douglass said: ‘There are forces in operation, which must inevitably, work in the downfall of slavery. ‘The arm of the Lord is not shortened,’ and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from ‘the Declaration of Independence,’ the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age,” Cruz continued quoting Douglass before leaving Kaepernick with an all-caps “suggestion,: “READ THE ENTIRE SPEECH.”
Air Max 1 USA