Beto Backs Nike: Betsy Ross Flag 'Appropriated' by White Nationalists
2020 hopeful sides with Nike over Betsy Ross flag claims
2020 presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke said on Wednesday that the 1776 Betsy Ross flag had become a symbol of white nationalism.
Beto remarked while stumping at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown, where he praised Nike for pulling the flag design from a planned sneaker design due for release on July 4.
The cancellation of the campaign was reportedly at the request of former-quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick, who is known for originating the kneeling protest against the national anthem during NFL games, reportedly told the famous shoe company that the flag, with thirteen stars, was a symbol for slavery that offended many.
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," a spokeswoman for the company said.
O’Rourke said the 13-star flag sewn by Ross in 1776 “has, by some extremist white-nationalist groups, been appropriated.”
Racist groups and white nationalists also frequently fly the current 50-star U.S. flag.
But Nike had already begun shipping out the sneakers when Mr. Kaepernick said the Betsy Ross flag as a symbol of slavery, which was practiced legally in all the colonies that became the United States.
#2020 hopeful Beto O'Rourke has claimed that migrants have "no choice" but to come to the United States because of American "excesses" causing #climatechange in their country. READ MORE: https://t.co/00UgyXTYwD— Neon Nettle (@NeonNettle) June 29, 2019
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“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 more importantly grateful for the conversation that this is producing,” Mr. O’Rourke also said.
The claim that the Betsy Ross flag is a symbol of slavery or white nationalism erupted massive debate on social media.
Kaepernick, the former quarterback who famously kneeled during the National Anthem starting in 2016, was named as the face of Nike’s latest “Just Do It” campaign last year.
Nike was heavily criticized on social media for signing the controversial former NFL quarterback for a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. After the announcement, Nike’s stock initially fell more than 3 percent, before online sales increased.