Critics of Nike’s withdrawal of its Betsy Ross-flag shoes at the behest of company endorser Colin Kaepernick drew attention Wednesday to the fact that the Revolutionary War banner was featured prominently at the second inauguration of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama.
Kaepernick, known for launching the national-anthem kneeling protest movement in the NFL, found the shoes offensive because the Ross flag was created at a time when slavery was legal.
But Donald Trump Jr. was among many who recalled the Obama inauguration in January 2013.
“Weird that no one had a problem with The Betsy Ross Flag when it flew over Obama’s inauguration. Now it’s not patriotic … ok got it.”
On his nationally syndicated radio show Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his listeners they shouldn’t discount the possibility that pulling the Betsy Ross flag shoes was “a gigantic publicity stunt.”
“You can’t rule that out … just to get Nike even more notice,” he said.
The Revolutionary War flag designed by Betsy Ross flew through the late 18th century, noted the Washington Free Beacon. The only difference from the current American flag is that it has just 13 stars, which are arranged in a circle to represent the original states.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro praised Nike’s decision, comparing the Ross flag to the Confederate flag as a symbol of racial prejudice.
“Look, there are a lot of things in our history that are still very painful,” Castro told CBS News in a television interview. “The Confederate flag that still flies in some places and is used as a symbol.”
A rival for the 2020 party nomination, former congressman Beto O’Rourke, also supported Nike’s decision.
“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 grateful for the conversation [that it is provoking],” he told reporters.
Arizona’ Republican governor, Doug Ducey, responded to Nike’s move by ordering the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw all financial incentives to encourage Nike to add a manufacturing plant in the state.
Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, said the nation needs “to move toward an inclusive America that understands that pain, that doesn’t wipe it away from history in the sense that it still belongs in a museum, or we need to read about it and understand the significance.”
He told CBS the nation should highlight symbols and stories of minorities rather than the Ross flag.
“We need to get not only to blocking things that don’t — I think, advance us, but also to celebrating those things that do, and that will round out the whole nation’s understanding of why we became the successful nation that we became, that everybody has had a role in that,” Castro said.