Betsy Ross Flag Once Rallied A Nation; It Can Do So Again

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Colin Kaepernick hates America.

No shock there. It’s at the heart of his kneeling during the national anthem back when he played professional football, allegedly to protest allegedly common cases of police officers killing black men they encounter on the job with allegedly no justifiable reason.

Nike, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to hate America so much as it hates itself.

How else to account for the company’s suicidal decision to remove the 13-stars Betsy Ross flag from a new model of sneaker a few days before the Fourth of July?

The original design probably seemed innocuous enough to Nike officials – as, indeed, it is. A celebration of the country’s original flag to celebrate the country’s independence to try to sell sneakers seems not only appropriate, but tame – like a car dealer strewing dozens of current-day American flags on its lot.

Instead, though, the company caved when star spokesman Kaepernick complained that the Betsy Ross flag, with its 13 white stars in a circle on a blue field and 13 alternating red and white stripes representing the original 13 states, is offensive because at the time of its adoption America practiced slavery.

This is nonsensical, in part because in every age every society commits or permits evil acts. Imagine, for instance, if pro-lifers condemned the 50-stars version of the American flag because under it abortion was legalized nationwide and continues to be practiced. Abortion is horrible – but there’s no intrinsic connection between it and the flag that represents the country.

How ironic for Nike, which for years (until recently) was widely criticized for using overseas factories that treat children harshly to make its products. Imagine someone trying to ban the Nike corporate logo because children should be treated well and not badly. While not entirely fair – Nike doesn’t own the sweatshops — it’s a much closer connection than this business with Betsy Ross.

The Betsy Ross flag has no intrinsic connection to slavery. Instead, it has an intrinsic connection to freedom and independence. Flags that American Patriots used before the Stars and Stripes emphasized America’s connection to Great Britain. The 13-stars flag set America apart. As we have been ever since.

Moreover, slavery began to die in America a year before the Betsy Ross flag was adopted in 1777, when the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, with its talk of the “inalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” A slave owner wrote it, and slave owners voted for it. The tension between what our Founding Fathers said they believed and how many of them acted could not last forever – and eventually principle won out, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of dollars.

This is how genuine progress is made – by stating good and true principles out loud, and then challenging yourself to live by them.

Another attack on the Betsy Ross flag – that some white supremacists have used it at some rallies in recent decades – is even weaker. Anyone can use any symbol in any way he wants. The 13-stars flag isn’t widely associated with white supremacist rallies for two reasons:  The flag has nothing to do with them; and most people aren’t even aware of what a white supremacist rally might look like, because the vast majority of Americans have no interest in them.

Yet it’s not enough simply to parry this latest outrage as the sorry nonsense it is. Nor is it enough to chastise Nike. Arizona Governor Doug Duma’s call for pulling state financial incentives for Nike is a welcome and necessary reaction. But more is needed.

The never-ending attacks of left-wing anti-Americanism are itself a type of slavery. Enemies of our country would love to demolish our symbols and our national pride, but they will settle for making us kowtow to their inexhaustible sensitivities and demands. The result is a chilling effect on our self-identity.

Our national weak-kneeism has to stop. It might as well stop now. And now anti-weak-knees has a focal point.

Every movement needs a symbol, and Colin Kaepernick may have unwittingly given us ours – hiding in plain sight.

This moment is an opportunity to rediscover and celebrate an ancient symbol of our nation – what a Nike spokesman called “an old version of the American flag.” The 13-stars Betsy Ross flag ought to be more widely displayed at homes, businesses, and rallies, as a sign of affection for our country by those who love it.