Nike Pulls “Betsy Ross” Shoes- Flag is Used by Hate Groups
July 2, 2019 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Nike is shelving a plan to sell sneakers emblazoned with images of an early version of the American flag after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick complained to the company. Various conservatives are having conniptions over Nike wisely realizing its mistake, with Arizona's governor threatening to withdraw tax incentives to Nike to build in AZ. The problem isn't the flag itself per-say, but the fact that multiple hate groups including III% and the KKK have used the "Betsy Ross" flag as a logo or as letterheads. Betsy Ross herself is largely a myth, and is unavailable to comment.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (76 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted on Monday that in response to the controversy, he would withdraw the tax incentives that had been offered to Nike to start a plant in the state.

Someone on public radio pointed out to me today that the tax incentives offered to Nike equals what the company earns in 15 minutes. So, there's that.

I live in a part of the country (not the South) where 3%er decals are on the back window of pickup trucks and confederate flags are not uncommon. I hadn't made the association of the circle of stars with white supremacy other than thinking "oh, those decals are referencing the pseudo-fact that supposedly only 3% of Americans fought in the Revolution". That the flag itself has become associated with bigotry is troubling to me, as it's a legit part of my history as a citizen here.

Anyway, good for Nike for listening and responding. That doesn't happen often enough.
posted by hippybear at 8:56 PM on July 2, 2019 [14 favorites]


Just reflect on this for a moment: the Republican Governor of Arizona — a member of the political party that desperately markets itself as the freedom-loving, government-minimizing, censorship-hating, business-friendly, economy-stimulating and jobs-creating party — threatens to withdraw support for a new factory in the state that would bring 500 new manufacturing jobs and $400 million in annual economic activity...all because the company decided not to sell a shoe with a particular design on it.

Yeah.
posted by darkstar at 9:02 PM on July 2, 2019 [73 favorites]


with Arizona's governor threatening to withdraw tax incentives to Nike to build in AZ

To which the Governor of New Mexico replied, "Hey @Nike, let's talk."
posted by mstokes650 at 9:09 PM on July 2, 2019 [54 favorites]


ponders the virtues of the noble rattlesnake
sadly puts away Gadsden flag

posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:18 PM on July 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


[famous dril tweet]
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:44 PM on July 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


yeah but it's a dry hate

as one of the voters who took down Walker you best believe I'm excited to get Arizona residency in a few months; LET'S DO THIS
(Ducey's out after two terms regardless BUT STILL)

posted by taquito sunrise at 9:55 PM on July 2, 2019 [63 favorites]


Hey, welcome to AZ!

Sorry we have such a shitty state government. Glad you can be a part of turning the tide, though!
posted by darkstar at 10:14 PM on July 2, 2019 [6 favorites]


sadly puts away Gadsden flag

God, I fucking hate the misappropriation of historical symbols by these assholes.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:35 PM on July 2, 2019 [17 favorites]


You have no idea how much I want to get bumper stickers saying "RACIST" or "BIGOT" and creep through mall parking lots in this area and apply them to vehicles displaying various insignia. Just to underscore their point.
posted by hippybear at 11:25 PM on July 2, 2019 [35 favorites]


American Nazis also like the Betsy Ross flag.

Here's one question I have about the Betsy Ross myth, according to the story she suggested a five point star because it's quicker and easier:
“Nothing easier” was her prompt reply and folding a piece of paper in the proper manner, with one clip of her ready scissors she quickly displayed to their astonished vision the five pointed star
Is it really? Cutting a six point star takes one less fold than a five point star. So the "nothing easier" part of the myth has always felt like a false note to me. On the other hand it is kinda funny that one of our foundational myths involves changing the design specifications to reduce government procurement costs.
posted by peeedro at 11:29 PM on July 2, 2019 [11 favorites]


You have no idea how much I want to get bumper stickers saying "RACIST" or "BIGOT" and creep through mall parking lots in this area and apply them to vehicles displaying various insignia. Just to underscore their point.

Now that's an idea!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:32 PM on July 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


Now that's an idea!

Years and years ago I would keep in my bag bumper stickers that said "His name is Norm Abrams" to put on vehicles that had "My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter" stickers on them.

posted by hippybear at 11:36 PM on July 2, 2019 [76 favorites]


They took the fucking OK hand sign. Now this flag. Are we going to keep letting them appropriate stuff until there's nothing left?

This is the last pepe I saw on metafilter. Got a few favourites, no one complained. That was only three years ago.

Recently they've been trying to adopt clowns as a hate symbol. Are we going to ban clowns?

The reason they're doing this is that it's working. They'll move onto something else after this and just repeat. We need a better strategy than just banning the meme, it's letting them win and they have no reason to stop at this flag or the next one.
posted by adept256 at 3:10 AM on July 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


And fuck slate for not showing an image of the flag. I had to google it to make sure I was thinking of the right one. I don't think this kind of self-censorship is any form of bravery, they're just solidifying it's usage as a hate symbol.
posted by adept256 at 3:15 AM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


Kindly see (pardon the derail) the newly digitized scrapbook, compiled by Charles William Smith, one of the founders of the Betsy Ross House. The scrapbook contains bits of wood from the hypothetical Ross dwelling: patriotic fantasies abound.
posted by mfoight at 3:16 AM on July 3, 2019


hippybear ditto, and I also dream of printing up stickers of these and slapping them over every Gadsden flag decal I see
posted by saladin at 3:21 AM on July 3, 2019 [16 favorites]


If you go to the Northeast the 13 star flags have always been reasonably common around July 4th. I would bet it would not have been too hard to find some of them flying next to pride flags, with an “IMPEACH” bumper sticker on the car in the driveway.
posted by vogon_poet at 4:27 AM on July 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


$$Money doesn't talk, it swears$$ ~ Betsy Ross
posted by DJZouke at 5:06 AM on July 3, 2019


I love how allegedly free-market conservatives get pissy when a corporation does something that helps their bottom line. I mean Nike knows who buys their shoes and doesn't really care if they piss off some old white guys.
posted by octothorpe at 5:25 AM on July 3, 2019 [15 favorites]


The only way to prevent Nazis from co-opting symbols is to reclaim the symbols from them.

Proudly wave a Betsy Ross flag or the Gadsden flag with a rainbow background during Pride. Post iconic images of a clown with a rainbow wig kicking a Nazi skinhead’s ass, giving an OK sign.

Swamp Facebook and Twitter and Reddit with these images, again and again, relentlessly in online forums, until clowns and OK signs and the Betsy Ross flag and “Don’t Tread On Me” are reassociated with diversity and pluralism and liberalism.
posted by darkstar at 5:34 AM on July 3, 2019 [14 favorites]


I'm saddened though not surprised the Betsy Ross was appropriated by chuds. I like it and have flown it next to the LGBT+ and Black Lives Matter flag. I think it has superior aesthetics and wish the US would go back to 13 stars in a circle instead of continuing to make the flag busier and busier. Plus, no need to redesign when DC and Puerto Rico become states.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:34 AM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


 a five point star.

Hey, that's basically a pentagram construction. If there was "nothing easier" for Betsy Ross, maybe we need to investigate her history for satanism.
posted by scruss at 5:40 AM on July 3, 2019 [16 favorites]


Now available at Wal-Mart:

Betsy Ross Rainbow Flag.

Rainbow Gadsden Flag.
posted by darkstar at 5:41 AM on July 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


The only way to prevent Nazis from co-opting symbols is to reclaim the symbols from them.

I'm more concerned with the meanings than the symbols. Symbols I liked that have become associated with the far right, they vi longer appeal to me. I was attached to what the symbols meant, not the symbol itself. And when that making changes, so does my attachment to it.

Why are the particular symbols so important?
posted by Dysk at 5:43 AM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


Like, why would we want to reclaim things like pepe? It's useful to have identifiers for the far right. Muddying the waters just gives them more plausible deniability. Let them have it.
posted by Dysk at 5:55 AM on July 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


Why are the particular symbols so important?

In part, because they're our common patrimony.

The Betsy Ross flag represents one of the first American flags after the revolution. By using it, these chuds are saying "We're the true inheritors of the revolution, of what America is. The gays, the socialists, the feminists, the blacks, the immigrants: they're just a momentary blip. They don't own America; we do."

But they don't own it, and all of those people were part of the revolution. Many of the "founders" were LGBT (including perhaps Casimir Pulaski!). Some of the founders were radicals that wanted to remake society, like Thomas Paine. Many supporters of the revolution wanted to carry equality to its natural conclusion and include women. Although slavery and the Revolution has a lot of troubling history, there was a contingent that say the Declaration of Independence was incompatible with black slavery (so much so that the Second American Revolution—the Civil War—drew upon those same revolutionary arguments). And of course, some of the founders like Hamilton and others were not born in what would become the US at all. Each one of these groups are excluded by the III% stealing the Betsy Ross.

The Betsy Ross flag belongs to those who embrace radical equality and justice. We were there. The revolution belongs to us, too. Sure, they take obscure and new symbols like Pepes and I'm not going to fight for them, but I'll fight for this. This is our inheritance and I will not let racist chuds steal it for their own dark purposes.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:57 AM on July 3, 2019 [93 favorites]


Anyone should feel free to embrace or discard any symbols they want. And sure, recent symbols like Pepe, that don’t hold otherwise positive connotations, are great for identifying racists and Nazis.

However, when a national symbol of liberty that has been around for centuries is co-opted by a subculture for the purpose of exclusion, bigotry, fear-mongering, etc., then it’s reasonable for people of good will to be alarmed that part of their shared culture is being threatened.

Bigots, for example, loathe how the LGBT movement has appropriated the rainbow, because they know that symbols play a powerful role in the battle for cultural and social space.

On preview, agreeing with the eloquent Lord Chancellor.
posted by darkstar at 5:58 AM on July 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


Flagged as fantastic, Lord Chancellor.

As a first-gen American, I am SO ANGRY about things like this, and about all the other ten thousand ways that white supremacists keep taking away symbols of American democracy. The Nazis already co-opted my ancestral culture's symbols to the point where I legitimately can't use them anymore, and now they come for my flag? Not this time, motherfuckers.
posted by basalganglia at 6:02 AM on July 3, 2019 [13 favorites]


as a queer white nth generation american, personally, i'm usually pretty disgusted by mythologizing our history and worshiping the symbols of our past (pride-us flag mashups nauseate me). let them have their flag of slavery, misogyny, and genocide.
posted by polyhedron at 6:07 AM on July 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


LOL, I also flagged LC’s comment as fantastic.

Meanwhile, the racists are welcome to keep the Confederate Flag, as it’s perfectly suited to a group of bigots seeking to undermine the country, and an excellent way to identify them in short order.
posted by darkstar at 6:08 AM on July 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


Can someone provide citations of appropriation of the Betsy Ross flag by white supremacists? The AZ Republic indicates that it’s a weak association, and I’m at a loss to think of any myself.
posted by hwestiii at 6:12 AM on July 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Anti-Defamation League maintains a comprehensive Hate Symbols Database. They range from obscure to easily identifiable. The Betsy Ross flag is not yet on the list.
posted by adept256 at 6:19 AM on July 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


3%er window decals (Google image search link)
posted by hippybear at 6:22 AM on July 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


as a queer white nth generation american, personally, i'm usually pretty disgusted by mythologizing our history and worshiping the symbols of our past (pride-us flag mashups nauseate me). let them have their flag of slavery, misogyny, and genocide.

I'm just a socialist, but I struggle with this, too. I don't believe in capitalism or nationalism, so how do I relate to a history that is largely capitalist and nationalist? Should we go all French Revolution and make a Year I to throw away the old tainted symbols and start anew?

I have chosen no on that, though I totally understand why others, especially those with greater trauma delivered at the hands of those symbols, would want to do so.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:29 AM on July 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Thank you for the excellent explanation Lord Chancellor! I can totally agree that certain symbols may matter because of other meanings they carry. I guess I was knee-jerking a little in response to the "don't let them appropriate anything!" notion I see expressed with depressing regularity (including further up in this thread) which I see as counterproductive for the reasons outlined in my previous comments. There is context around this particular case which makes analogies to pepe obscure more than they enlighten, as you pointed out very clearly.
posted by Dysk at 6:37 AM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


i mean, the american flag has basically always stood for white supremacy though? ask a native american
posted by entropicamericana at 6:43 AM on July 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


Can someone provide citations of appropriation of the Betsy Ross flag by white supremacists?

This Rolling Stone article has examples. It doesn't mention Nazi and neo-Nazi groups, but two minutes on google image search will show you it's commonly flown at American Nazi Party and National Socialist Movement events.
posted by peeedro at 6:49 AM on July 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


I have chosen no on that, though I totally understand why others, especially those with greater trauma delivered at the hands of those symbols, would want to do so.

this feels to me like a functionally white-supremacist perspective, to be honest. i say this as a person with a ton of internalized white supremacy that they're trying to outgrow.
posted by polyhedron at 6:50 AM on July 3, 2019


I think it's important to note that they've been doing this successfully with arbitrary symbols, like ok, pepe and clowns. The obvious progression is non-arbitrary symbols. The milkshake duck strategy works, and there's nothing to stop it working with your symbols.
posted by adept256 at 6:54 AM on July 3, 2019


I'm staying with my aunt this week - she's in her 60s and hates Trump with a passion. She gets most of her news from one of the major network nightly news, with the occasional MSNBC show thrown in here or there.

The story about the sneakers came on, and the story was that Colin Kaepernick objected to the sneakers because the flag was used during a time of slavery, so Nike pulled them. There was no mention that this particular flag has been hijacked by white-nationalist groups.

My aunt is now of the opinion that people are completely overreacting and Nike made the wrong decision. All NBC had to do is add a clip of neo-Nazi groups with this flag or even a sentence that said that the flag was being used as a symbol of Whte supremacy, but instead the story was easily interpreted as Nike folding to whiny liberal crybabies.
posted by elvissa at 6:56 AM on July 3, 2019 [18 favorites]


The milkshake duck strategy works, and there's nothing to stop it working with your symbols.

I think you might've missed the point where I said I don't personally care about any particular symbols? Take whatever dude - if something starts meaning far right, I don't want it anymore.
posted by Dysk at 7:00 AM on July 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


this feels to me like a functionally white-supremacist perspective, to be honest. i say this as a person with a ton of internalized white supremacy that they're trying to outgrow.

Quite frankly, I'm not sure that you're wrong. I sometimes think that flag of Castro's Cuba is the same as Batista's and even the American Occupations, and perhaps the American flag can bridge the gap from capitalist white supremacist state to egalitarian socialist republic. Perhaps it can't, and the future will have to create new symbols to represent the varied lands and people from New York to Hawaii to Alabama to Montana. In the absence of that, I will defend voraciously those symbols of the Republic that I believe can be redeemed until told to stand down by my comrades.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:12 AM on July 3, 2019


All NBC had to do is add a clip of neo-Nazi groups with this flag or even a sentence that said that the flag was being used as a symbol of Whte supremacy, but instead the story was easily interpreted as Nike folding to whiny liberal crybabies.

weird its almost like the media class doesnt actually have our best interests at heart
posted by entropicamericana at 7:14 AM on July 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


I don't see how it needs to be connected to "white-nationalist" groups though, except to keep people like elvissa's aunt from revealing their white supremacy. It's the flag of the country that enslaved black people and committed to the subjugation and extermination of indigenous peoples. People who are still upset about that aren't whiny crybabies, and the flag doesn't need to be actively used by murderous mobs to be a symbol of white supremacy.
posted by polyhedron at 7:17 AM on July 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


Now available at Wal-Mart:

Betsy Ross Rainbow Flag.

Rainbow Gadsden Flag.


So I'm a bit confused.

The Betsy Ross flag as racist symbol was a new one for me. In what I have read associated with this, the racist/three-percenter version has a roman numeral in the center. I'm not saying the BR flag isn't trending in that direction (or that it's too far gone to reclaim), but it's not there yet.

The Gadsden flag, though tied to the Revolution, has deep ties to the Tea Party and associated movements, to the point that I wonder if selling it at National Parks associated with the revolution (saw them at Bunker Hill) might be a violation of the Hatch Act. So, what is Rainbow Gadsden trying to say? "We're gay but hate the government?"

All this being said, I do think we as Americans of all persuasions need to reclaim our national symbols from becoming to partisan (or worse). There are days where I almost feel like any display of patriotism risks having people mistake me for being a hard-core conservative.
posted by MrGuilt at 7:28 AM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


The Gadsden flag, though tied to the Revolution, has deep ties to the Tea Party and associated movements, to the point that I wonder if selling it at National Parks associated with the revolution (saw them at Bunker Hill) might be a violation of the Hatch Act.

National Parks concessions are contracted out to third parties who determine what products and services they offer, so the Hatch Act is not relevant.
posted by peeedro at 7:44 AM on July 3, 2019


So, what is Rainbow Gadsden trying to say? "We're gay but hate the government?"

essentially. that's the guy who cuts my hair. the american west, with its unique toxic blend of libertarianism and the pernicious myths of rugged individualism and self-reliance, can be a weird place.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:45 AM on July 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


polyhedron, I get what you're saying and I appreciate that perspective. The US carries deep scars, and the flag -- like any flag, really -- has been used to justify heinous deeds. It's still, at the southern border, being used to justify crimes against humanity. For many years (esp around the Iraq War), I wouldn't put out the flag on the Fourth or otherwise acknowledge patriotism, because I was worried I'd be taken for a warhawk.

But fuck that. It's a flag of war, but it's also my flag. I have no other. Like all Americans who are not white or otherwise privileged, I have a complex relationship with my country, but it's also just as much my country as Richard Spencer's or David Duke's. Perhaps moreso mine than theirs.

I still believe in the core concepts of what the flag stands for: democracy, equality, community. (Similarly, I greatly prefer E pluribus unum to the official motto of the country. Out of many, one.) If you can show me another symbol or image or phrase that conveys those concepts, without all the terrible associations, fantastic. But symbols are so powerful because they have layers of meaning that bind people together, whether they will or no.

Like others, I wasn't aware that the Betsy Ross flag was being co-opted by white supremacists (is there any actual source for that? Betsy Ross was a Quaker, and as a group they were generally anti-slavery and pro-equality, so it seems like a weird move for neo-Nazis. Is this a genius marketing move for Nike, coming on the heels of the Fourth?) but I think the whole story touches on the deep fear that many of us have that our national symbols are being taken away and we'll be left with nothing.
posted by basalganglia at 7:47 AM on July 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


So, what is Rainbow Gadsden trying to say? "We're gay but hate the government?"

I've seen them around here in New Hampshire, so yeah, pretty much.

In any case, I'm wondering what, e.g., Hamilton will do with the line Leave the battlefield waving Betsy Ross' flag higher now.
posted by damayanti at 8:01 AM on July 3, 2019


If it's anybody's fuckin' flag it's ours. If we put anything in the middle of the stars it'll be Gritty's head. Go back to your dark cave and get back to jacking off over punisher logos.
-XOXO Philly
posted by cmfletcher at 8:03 AM on July 3, 2019 [16 favorites]


In part, because they're our common patrimony.

I'm sorry, but Kaepernick's whole entire point is that this "common patrimony" belongs to a time when people like him were slaves.

Fuck the Ross flag.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:08 AM on July 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


It'll take work to get people in the habit, but the key will be to make them say the quiet parts loud.

Leftist: "Oh wow, you're flying Noted Abolitionist Betsy Ross's flag? How nice to meet another liberal!"

Like, just take the wind out of their sails, force them to say, "no it's for racist reasons" rather than putting up no resistance to its appropriation.
posted by explosion at 8:09 AM on July 3, 2019 [20 favorites]


The discussion here about whether the Betsy Ross flag has been appropriated by Nazis is missing the more provocative part of Kaepernick's reported complaint.
He says that the “Betsy Ross” flag design ... is associated with racism and slavery. In his message to Nike, Kaepernick reportedly complained about the flag because it flew during an era in which slavery was in practice.
My read on that is he's not talking about modern fascists at all; his complaint is in celebrating American history because that history is bound up with racism and slavery.
posted by Nelson at 8:27 AM on July 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


Every official version of the American flag until the Civil War flew during an era in which slavery was in practice. This was a fairly common sentiment among abolitionists.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:43 AM on July 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


The Betsy Ross flag as racist symbol was a new one for me.

It seems to be a new one for about everyone. Like, new enough that its inconceivable that Nike would kill the whole thing over a closed door meeting with Kaepernick.

My guess is the Nike marketing people came up with this situation end-to-end, and they just got Kaepernick onboard ahead of time. You'll notice that Nike recalled the shoes before anything about Colin's reaction came out.

This is win-win for everyone (ok, not people who say things like "late-stage capitalism" all the time"). The bigots look like children by melting down on some shoes. Kaepernick bolsters his civil rights credentials. The handful of people who knew about the Betsy Ross thing ahead of time feel good because a big company shares their ideals. Nike gets like 100 million dollars of free adverting.

Some of the shoes showed up not StockX, so it wasn't completely fabricated, but I'd bet this is a marketing stunt.
posted by sideshow at 9:03 AM on July 3, 2019


Between this Betsy Ross thing, the Gadsden flag, and the quasi-fascist "blue lives matter" flag, I'm anticipating the day when flying the actual American flag is seen as liberal virtue signaling.
posted by condour75 at 9:04 AM on July 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


Some of the shoes showed up not StockX, so it wasn't completely fabricated, but I'd bet this is a marketing stunt.

I doubt it was that thought out. I go to what a Coca-Cola exec said about using New Coke as a marketing strategy: "We're not that dumb, and we're not that smart."
posted by MrGuilt at 9:10 AM on July 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


America was created as a white supremacist nation. After years of struggles and set backs, it's arguable that we became a nation that was not overtly white supremacist —one striving for true equality— but we hadn't yet managed to get any farther than that when the most recent crop of facists started disassembling all the progress we'd made.

It's not too far out to interpret any explicitly American symbol as racist. Even the beloved stars and stripes we have today — it was created incrementally, each star that was added representing genocide, theft and oppression.

The idea of a just, egalitarian America is a beautiful dream, one that I desperately hope one day becomes a really, but until then, pretending it's true is insulting and deeply counterproductive.

If I had children, I can assure you that they would not be pledging allegiance to the American flag (Unless, I guess, I totally failed as a parent).
posted by thedward at 10:06 AM on July 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


That five pointed origami star pattern is really good. Thanks I needed that!
posted by Oyéah at 10:09 AM on July 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


Marketing stunts don't build 7-figures worth of physical product, ship it to retailers, then pay to ship it all back and shred it.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:17 AM on July 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments deleted. We ask people not to use dehumanizing language, specifically about insects and vermin, but "chud" has been an edge case since it's not always clear in what sense people mean it -- but it should be noted that some folks reasonably object to its use. Let's not get into a big meta-discussion here about it, it's a distraction from the bigger point.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:36 AM on July 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


the american flag has basically always stood for white supremacy though? ask a native american

You could certainly make the argument, although the Jackson flag had 25 stars. It's supposed to mean other things as well, if you believe the hype. But the hype is also pretty problematic, and civilian use of the actual contemporary American Flag is sadly often enough to make me side-eye someone. The line between nationalism and patriotism may not rest on flag quantity, but they aren't unrelated either.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:28 PM on July 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


The "marketing stunt" hot take ignores two things: the people who say they are offended by that flag's pro-slavery history and connotation, and the countless examples of racist groups who have embraced that flag because of its pro-slavery history and connotation.

Ignoring these things is wrong.
posted by peeedro at 1:46 PM on July 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


This country still sucks for PoC, it sucks for immigrants, it is downright dangerous for gender non-conforming trans people, it's terrible to women, and the faction in power is arduously striving to eliminate what little progress we have made. Leftish nationalism embraces a plainly false but widely-believed myth of American moral exceptionalism while pretending we can just leave all that pesky baggage behind. The right's nationalism is, at least, based on American achievements instead of our aspirations -- slavery, genocide, domination.

I don't have to squint very hard to see our current concentration camps as a continuation of the American Indian genocide that we don't really acknowledge. Let's get some reparations for Native Americans, African Americans, for every PoC that's been structurally oppressed, for queer Americans, and for every woman whose worth has been diminished... for the families across the world who've been victimized by our weapons of war, for the slaves that enable our obscene consumption, for the ecosystem we've plundered and children whose future we've squandered.

Honestly and simply, celebrating our USian identities before that's been achieved is an overt act of white supremacy.
posted by polyhedron at 1:52 PM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


All NBC had to do is add a clip of neo-Nazi groups with this flag or even a sentence that said that the flag was being used as a symbol of Whte supremacy, but instead the story was easily interpreted as Nike folding to whiny liberal crybabies.

weird its almost like the media class doesnt actually have our best interests at heart


NBC is a major NFL partner (Thursday night football is on NBC for 3/4ths of the season). You can be assured that they, like the NFL which settled a collusion case with Kaepernick (and Eric Reid) this offseason for probably at least $20+ millions in damages (2 player's worth lost wages due to league wide collusion) just before it was set to go to arbitration where the league would likely have lost thanks to loose lips and dim wits of a couple of over confident good old boy owners (coincidentally Trump supporters), definitely do not have Colin Kaepernick's or Civil Rights protestors' interests at heart.
posted by srboisvert at 3:06 PM on July 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


You could certainly make the argument, although the Jackson flag had 25 stars. It's supposed to mean other things as well, if you believe the hype. But the hype is also pretty problematic, and civilian use of the actual contemporary American Flag is sadly often enough to make me side-eye someone. The line between nationalism and patriotism may not rest on flag quantity, but they aren't unrelated either.

When I see the American flag I just assume a lot of Americans are feeling lost and they need some reassurance they are not in those scary other places they keep getting told about.

But I'm an immigrant and I never wore anything with a Canadian flag on it until I moved outside of Canada and even now I don't do it often.

(However I will confess I have rarely taken off my We The North shirt for the last 2 weeks but that's more because the championship was won by a team of immigrants to Canada and that tickles the hell out me)
posted by srboisvert at 3:14 PM on July 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


Colin Kaepernick sacrificed several multi-million dollar seasons at/near his physical peak to stand for something. It's pretty noble, like Muhammad Ali making a similar sacrifice in the '60s.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:14 PM on July 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


"Civilian use of the actual contemporary American Flag is sadly often enough to make me side-eye someone."

You know, I used to think this too. Then I decided to fight the Nazis and reclaim the flag, because I've had enough of white people (on either side of the aisle) dictating the terms of my citizenship and my belongingness according to their purity tests. The right says "this flag indicates whiteness." and the left says "this flag indicates genocide." Either way they are trying to mediate my place as an American, and what does/doesn't belong to me, I strongly reject that. The country sure ain't perfect, and the contemporary flag is both a reminder of the promises of 1776, and also a reminder of how far we have to go. Symbols are funny like that ; they contain multitudes.

So maybe the next time you side-eye someone's red white and blue, consider that they could have real reason to care about the only country they have ever known.
posted by basalganglia at 8:11 PM on July 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


Children love their mother the most. Fish don't know they are swimming in water. There's a lot of negative I could attach to the concept that you love the only thing you've ever known without consideration for the implications of its past or having any basis for comparison with other things.

The US is one of those countries that's big enough that even people who take long plane flights aren't necessarily leaving the US to visit someplace different, foreign, new. Sure, the food is different in different regions, but the language is basically the same and the laws are basically the same and the customs are basically the same. You never feel like you're really visiting someplace else.

I don't mind patriotism, and I appreciate people who love the US. I just find it troubling the number of people who proclaim the US to be the best and to love it forever and ever and who have no clue what life is really like anywhere else on the planet.
posted by hippybear at 8:25 PM on July 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


Then I decided to fight the Nazis and reclaim the flag, because I've had enough of white people (on either side of the aisle) dictating the terms of my citizenship

There are lots of reasons to reclaim national symbols. Living in a southern state, I have witnessed that the current old glory has flown in halls of governance exercising real power for freedom and equality. I don't feel like the national flag is some kind of perfect symbol or an irredeemable symbol, but I feel the real danger is abdicating that symbol to white supremacists.
posted by eustatic at 9:28 PM on July 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


hippybear, I think we are saying the same thing. There is a lot that is troubling about the US (or any country) and not enough of that gets taught in schools. Blind patriotism is just another word for nationalism, after all.

But I've traveled plenty - first overseas trip at 18 months, and one or two a year ever since - and I know that a utopian society doesn't exist except as an ideal that we in the US (or any country) need to strive toward.

There is real power in symbols like flags. Let the bigots take the Stars and Bars; leave the Stars and Stripes for the work many of us are doing every day for a more perfect union.
posted by basalganglia at 4:44 AM on July 4, 2019 [1 favorite]




Well, he is an old white guy from Kentucky. It's to be expected.
posted by hippybear at 11:51 AM on July 4, 2019


Because the rabbit-hole of Republican bullshit wasn’t deep enough, Gov. Ducey, after railing against Nike’s marketing decision and withdrawing support for their new factory in the state — because of his principlesthen wore his Nike shoes to the 4th of July celebration.
posted by darkstar at 1:03 PM on July 5, 2019


consider that they could have real reason to care about the only country they have ever known

That seems kinda patronizing given the comment to which it's responding, but fine.

I do always consider it. But in my experience, for a ton of people that "real reason to care about the only country they've ever known," when combined with a bigass flag is predicated on jingoism and ethnonationalism.

I see one flag in your house, I think hey, whatever, plenty of positive things about life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I see a thirty-foot flagpole on your suburban lawn? It's a data point, and I'm gonna start keeping eyes and ears open for the Turner Diaries and "Blue Lives Matter" and NRA stickers, juuuuust in case.

I grew up in very rural America. I can read the fucking symbols just fine.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:12 AM on July 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


Proof that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's protest was sincere:

Nike PR: Nike Air Manufacturing Innovation Expands to Arizona

Gov Ducey: Arizona is open for business, and we welcome @Nike to our state.
posted by peeedro at 6:54 PM on July 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


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