News broke Tuesday that Nike cancelled its upcoming Betsy Ross flag-themed sneaker after a consultation with former American NFL quarterback and Nike spokesperson Colin Kaepernick, who told them that some people will find this product offensive because of its connection to an era of slavery.
Reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Betsy Ross flag has the red and white stripes of the American flag, but inside the blue field in the upper left hand corner are only 13 stars, representing the original 13 colonies.
The story had everything: a traditional symbol of American patriotism being stifled by a football player already considered controversial for refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem. The problem, as analyst John Robb points out, is that the sneaker was probably never real to begin with and this is all just an elaborate advertising campaign. Who needs Russian influence operations sowing division in American society when our own corporations do it for profit?
In recent years, corporations have rushed in to fill a real or perceived void in our government’s morality. Take for instance Bank of America’s decision to stop lending to some gun manufacturers of military-style firearms to civilians. This is a way for corporations to virtue signal, letting customers know what their affiliation is in America’s new tribal political landscape, one that takes place against the backdrop of these heavily-contrived cultural wars.
Corporations jump onto pre-existing social movements to move product. They claim that buying their product will save the world because it’s “green” or signal that their clothes are made by feminists for other feminists. In the end, it’s just a cynical way to sell us stuff. Ryan Holiday wrote about how he used to run similar campaigns for companies like American Apparel in his book, Trust Me, I’m Lying. The problem with Nike is that it’s now actively spreading discord in American society simply so it can cash in and drive up its stock price, with little regard for the chaos it sows, and what the backlash could look like in future elections.
Had the left stuck to their agenda of say, nationalized health care, rather than engage in moral crusading and scaring people about gender issues, than President Trump may never have happened in the first place, which is the irony of it all.
Nike has now made sure it stays in the headlines. Straight through this 4th of July holiday, we’ll all be inundated with nonsense takes and counter-takes about whether the Betsy Ross flag is “racist.” I don’t know about you, but this is why I turned off all the news notifications on my phone, and also deleted all my social media apps from it.
I’d much rather be enjoying a cheeseburger than participate in some corporate contrivance.