Nike has removed a pair of shoes starring an early version of the American flag that has been embraced by white nationalists after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick reportedly pointed out that the symbol was rude.
Tories in the US immediately criticized the move. One Republican senator called the settlement to pull the shoes “anti-American”.
The “Betsy Ross flag” highlights 13 white stars in a circle, expressing the 13 original colonies, and is one of many early versions of the American flag. It is named after the Philadelphia seamstress who is recognized with creating the first American flag featuring stars and stripes in the late 18th century – though most scholars reject that story as a myth.
The flag has since been welcomed by white nationalists and the American Nazi party.
The shoes had been designed for stores to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. But Kaepernick – the NFL star turned activist who took the knee during the national anthem in the rally against racism and police brutality – said Nike should not sell the shoes with a symbol many consider offensive for its connection to an era of slavery, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Nike has decided not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it starred the old version of the American flag,” a Nike spokeswoman reported the WSJ.
In reply to the report, Doug Ducey, Arizona’s Republican governor, called Ross a “founding mother” of the US, and tweeted: “Words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision. I am embarrassed for Nike.”