On Monday, news broke that Nike had recalled an American-flag themed shoe under pressure from spokesman and activist Colin Kaepernick, who expressed concern that the colonial-era flag feature on the shoe was a slave-era remnant.
On Tuesday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey slammed the decision on Twitter, deriding Nike for bowing to “the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.”
Instead of celebrating American history the week of our nation’s independence, Nike has apparently decided that Betsy Ross is unworthy, and has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism. 5/
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
In the nine-tweet rant, Ducey labeled the recall a “shameful retreat” for Nike “abandoning” American history and vowed to withhold financial incentives for a planned $184 million Nike plant in Goodyear, Arizona.
Nike has made its decision, and now we’re making ours. I’ve ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw all financial incentive dollars under their discretion that the State was providing for the company to locate here. 7/
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
“Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike,” Ducey wrote. “We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.
“And finally, it shouldn’t take a controversy over a shoe for our kids to know who Betsy Ross is. A founding mother. Her story should be taught in all American schools. In the meantime, it’s worth googling her.”
Susan Marie, an executive with the Arizona Commerce Authority, said Tuesday that the state was withdrawing a grant valued at “up to" $1 million.
Colonial-era flag controversy
The recalled Air Max 1 Quick Strike sneakers featured an image of the American flag on the heel and had been part of a July 4 marketing plan.
Instead of a modern flag, the shoes were emblazoned with an 18th-century version of the flag featuring 13 stars in a circle representing the original 13 colonies and associated with American Revolution-era seamstress Betsy Ross.
Use of the flag on the shoe came under criticism from Kaepernick and on social media because of concerns that the flag represented America’s slave era and had been appropriated by white nationalist groups that have become increasingly visible since the election of President Donald Trump.
2016 incident put flag in spotlight
The most publicized incident involving the flag occurred during a 2016 high school football game in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Students from the mostly white Forest Hills Central High brandished the Betsy Ross flag alongside a Trump “Make America Great Again” banner during a road game against Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills, which has an overwhelmingly minority enrollment.
The incident prompted an apology from Forest Hills Superintendent Dan Behm.
"Parading our current United States flag in a manner that is inconsistent with proper etiquette is disrespectful to all who have served our nation,” Behm said in 2016. “And, to wave a historical version of our flag, that to some symbolizes exclusion and hate, injects hostility and confusion to an event where no one intended to do so.”
Nike clarifies decision
After initially acknowledging the recall simply because the shoe featured “an old version of the American flag,” Nike released another statement Tuesday clarifying the recall.
“We regularly make business decisions to withdraw initiatives, products and services,” the statement read. “Nike made the decision to halt distribution of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.”
Hot ticket on sneaker market
While the recall has made headlines during this holiday week, it’s also reportedly created high demand on the secondary sneaker market.
Bloomberg reports that versions of the shoe that made it into circulation were selling for as much as $2,500 on resale marketplace StockX as of Tuesday morning.
StockX has since removed the listings from its site.
We have decided to remove the Nike Air Max 1 USA from our site today and prohibit any further sales of this item on @StockX as the sale of this product on our platform does not align with our value system.
— Scott Cutler (@cutlerscott) July 2, 2019
Kaepernick has not publicly commented on the issue. There is also no report on what the former NFL quarterback who publicly touts his vegan lifestyle thinks about Nike recalling a line of shoes made of leather.
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