A shoe company has once again divided our nation.
An iconic American brand, Nike, fell victim to the re-writing of history after briskly pulling a new line of USA-themed sneakers from shelves after harsh controversy arose over their patriotic design. The shoes, which displayed Betsy Ross’ flag, sparked outrage from critics, who reportedly denounced the symbol as offensive and inappropriate for present-day wear. Nike’s response has deemed an important piece of history unworthy of celebration during what’s supposed to be a week of unity honoring our nation’s independence.
The Continental Congress adopted Betsy Ross’ flag as the first official symbol of an independent America in 1777. It’s claimed that General George Washington tapped the Philadelphia seamstress to sew the original flag a year earlier. The design — 13 alternating red and white stripes and 13 white stars — represented the 13 original colonies as a newly unified nation. Betsy Ross’ flag waved with pride as soldiers fought for hard-won independence from an overseas monarch during the American Revolution. When examining the symbolism of the first American flag, we must travel back in history to its creation and understand what it represented during the Revolutionary era: a democratic, indivisible nation established on the core ideals of liberty and justice.
In a recent tweet, Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona stated, “[Nike] has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism. It is a shameful retreat for the company. American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it.”
Critics are allowing misguided political interpretations to reshape the significance of Betsy Ross’ flag in history. For an American company to abandon such an important historic symbol in an effort to conform to ‘political correctness’ is downright dishonorable.
Extremist groups have grossly misused and misinterpreted Betsy Ross’ flag for their own individual purposes, to be sure. But those cases are just more examples of how present-day interpretations of significant historic symbols have been warped by political biases and employed by misguided missions.
Betsy Ross’ flag symbolizes patriotism and pride for the new nation that would, over the course of history, develop into and prove itself to be the greatest and most powerful in the world. As Americans, we must unite to honor our country and what it stands for during Fourth of July celebrations. We must advocate for our flag — old versions and new — and pay tribute to what it represents: the forefathers who earned our independence, the veterans who fought for our freedom against tyrannical enemies and the armed services around the world who continue to defend our great country every day.
Tommy Tuberville is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama