Scott Hardie | July 3, 2019
What's your take on the controversy over the Betsy Ross flag and Nike sneakers?

My first thought upon hearing that the original 13-star flag is now considered racist was, Must everything from pre-Emancipation America now be considered a symbol of slavery? The Confederate flag as a symbol of hatred and oppression, fine, I get it. But the Betsy Ross flag? How could that be racist just because it existed at the same time as slavery?

It didn't click for me until I read that white supremacists have adopted that old flag as a symbol. It connects them to a time when America was unambiguously a white nation. Now I get it. To reject them, one must reject that flag.

When it comes to white supremacists ruining perfectly good things, Kelly has been through that crap twice over. First, it was her user name. She has used some version of "Europa" as a user name online for twenty years. If I remember correctly, she intended it as a reference to the moon of Jupiter, but lately the term has been embraced as a code word for white supremacists, and she's facing the task of changing account names on dozens of websites to avoid association with those assholes. Second, she participates in historical recreation groups (similar to the Society for Creative Anachronism), and those kinds of groups have faced accusations of white supremacism because some white supremacist assholes join them to enjoy what they consider to be a purely white, medieval European experience, which isn't at all the point of the groups. Now some of the groups are considering pulling a Ravelry and banning any right-wing politics just to avoid any perception of being tainted with white supremacism, which... I don't usually worry about slippery slopes, but that sure seems like one to me.

People always inevitably say that Nike pulls this stuff as a marketing stunt, and that may be true in general, although I don't know how it helps them sell this shoe to take the shoe off the market. Only collectors will care about getting it. But Nike's political "positions" usually seem disingenuous to me.

What do you think of all of this?


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