Waiving The Flag

Whether Nike made the right marketing decision by pulling its “Betsy Ross Flag” sneakers off the shelf is a question best answered by branding specialists.

To be honest, unless they were magic sneaks that somehow made me run faster and jump higher, I wouldn’t care if they had my pic on the heels. I still wouldn’t be a buyer. But Nike sells sneaks, and if they decide to bow to pop outrage, that’s their right.

But when Ben Jacobs twitted that Beto agreed that the flag — yes, the Betsy Ross version and not the 50 stars flavor — was hurtful, what stood out wasn’t the call so much as the characterization.

“That kind of symbol”? That was our American flag, Mr. Presidential Nominee Wannabe. Because it was likely that I was completely unaware, I was helpfully informed upon raising this detail that it had been “co-opted” by alt-right bigots.

So a handful of losers decided they were going to seize the Betsy Ross flag for themselves, and that turned our flag into theirs? They took frogs, the “OK” hand signal, the three-point shot signal and now, our flag?

Either these are the most powerful people in America, seizing our icons and overwhelming American will by their sheer force of holding it, or this is nuts. Who cares whether the Naxos want to pretend the Betsy Ross flag is theirs? Who cares what they want. Who is giving them the power to dictate to America, to Beto (and Julian Castro, as well), to Nike, to me, what my flag stands for?

I get it. Symbols have become bigger and more important than substance, bringing brave warriors to their knees, tears flowing uncontrollably at their mere sight, bodies wracked in pain just knowing they exist. The confederate battle flag is no different than the Nazi flag. A law professor writes of his inner strength and boldness when confronted with a student wearing a MAGA hat:

…an undeniable symbol of white supremacy and hatred toward certain nonwhite groups.

“Certain”?

…his shiny red MAGA hat was like a siren spewing derogatory racial obscenities at me…

The “like” does a lot of work here, since hats don’t actually spew, and about half a nation, give or take, elected the guy who made MAGA his motto. But it’s a symbol. It’s “that kind of symbol,” and at least it’s not a symbol that belonged to all of us before it was co-opted.

The Betsy Ross flag, however, isn’t some random symbol. It was our flag. It was our history and our heritage. It was American. It still is. Colin Kaepernick may be willing to let it go, to give it away to the neo-fascists as David Frum calls them, because he lacks the imagination to call them Naxos, but he no more dictates what becomes of a nation’s flag than the Naxos do. That is, unless you let them.

I’m not the most patriotic guy around, though I stand, because I choose to stand, when the national anthem is played. I’ve never hesitated in questioning this government’s actions when I think them wrong, or any office holder of any party. My preference would be to make America the Beautiful our anthem rather than the Star Spangled Banner, although I admit that my eyes tear just a bit when I hear the words, “gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

As many bad and wrong things that happened on these shores, and as many bad and wrong things that still happen, I am proud and fortunate to be an American. You can’t have my flag, any of them. Not the right. Not the left. God bless America, and happy Fourth of July.

19 thoughts on “Waiving The Flag

  1. School Lawyer

    Let’s hope the Naxos don’t have plans today for marching or grilling or cold beverages. Would the sensitive progressives give away those symbols, too?

  2. Mark

    ‘I’m not the most patriotic guy around, though I stand, because I choose to stand, when the national anthem is played. I’ve never hesitated in questioning this government’s actions when I think them wrong, or any office holder of any party.’

    I would make the argument that having an inherent distrust of Government and questioning it at every turn through the lens of the Constitution makes you far more patriotic than what you give yourself credit for. The action itself is distinctly American.

    God bless and happy 4th of July.

    1. SHG Post author

      As a young fella, protesting against the Vietnam War, the response from the not-too-silent-majority was “American, Love it or leave it.” If you love it, you fix it. Leaving is for quitters.

  3. Raging Racist

    Who knew that a founding mother of our country who sewed a flag nearly 250 years ago, to support herself, no less, as she did not own slaves, would cause a trigger event. We might as well erase our entire history from then until bussing in the 70s. Apparently, nothing is off limits.

  4. Bryan Burroughs

    South Park was prescient all those years ago. Get white supremacists to embrace something, anything, and that thing is immediately unacceptable.

    I wonder if we can get the Daily Stormer to start posting pieces about the importance of safe spaces, the virtues of intersectionality, and the brilliance of trauma-informed approaches to sexual assault investigations…

  5. Hunting Guy

    John Wayne.

    “Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure I love my country with all her faults. I’m not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be.”

  6. Tom Moran

    Just because bad people appropriate a symbol does not make it an unacceptable symbol. Look at the rally of the German American Bund in Madison Square Garden in 1939. The place was awash in American flags and a huge portrait of George Washington was the centerpiece of the stage.

    Then, there’s this picture of the Klan marching in Washington:
    [Ed. Note: Link deleted because rules.]
    We don’t stop displaying the flag or make Washington a pariah. Most Americans don’t want fringe groups deciding for them which symbols of the nation are acceptable.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m posting this comment, which would almost certainly get trashed any other day, as an homage to American freedom, but this is the worst, most repugnant and idiotic argument possible.

  7. Skink

    I fly the flag everyday, on a 25-foot pole. On special days, I fly the flag that draped my dad’s casket. The pole likely violates some local rule, but they know fairing well wouldn’t come to those that pitched a bitch.

    Nike’s decision really bothered me. That the company believed a large number of its customers would find the original flag offensive seems impossible. It just can’t be. But, no, it’s naxo. “We won’t sell the shoe because that flag was co-opted by assholes.” And not just that, but Kapernick, a different and meaningless asshole, is offended.

    Are the numbers valid? Are there really enough people outraged at the sight of the original flag that the company made a business decision to not sell the shoe?

    1. B. McLeod

      It probably doesn’t matter. I haven’t bought a Nike in 20 years, because they are crappy and fall apart. This means that Nike is unusually dependent on stupid people as its market demographic. Stupid people are the ones who would likely fall for this shit, so the flag shoe had to go.

  8. Hunting Guy

    Seems that this fits.

    Ochlocracy (Greek: ὀχλοκρατία, romanized: okhlokratía; Latin: ochlocratia) or mob rule is the rule of government by mob or a mass of people, or, the intimidation of legitimate authorities. As a pejorative for majoritarianism, it is akin to the Latin phrase mobile vulgus, meaning “the fickle crowd”, from which the English term “mob” originally was derived in the 1680s.

  9. Casual Lurker

    As is often the case, as I catch up on some of the backlog, I’m very late to this party. I hope all had a joyous 4th of July!

    Lost in all the noise over symbols is how difficult it is to plan a good parade. Just ask Darth Cheeto…

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