A red, white and blue Fourth of July special edition Nike sneaker sporting a Betsy Ross American flag – how cool is that?
Not cool at all, according to Colin Kaepernick, has-been quarterback morphed into crusader for racial fairness. Evidently, someone told him that the Betsy Ross flag is implicitly racist, celebrating a time when slavery was tolerated in America.
Actually, Colin, it celebrates a time when a ragtag group of incredibly brave people seeking freedom from oppression risked their homes, their families and their lives, took up arms against overwhelming odds and gave us the priceless gift of this great nation.
That, by the way, unlike your Nike commercial, is what it means to "risk everything." And unlike your pandering to disaffected victims of our imperfect nation, that is what it means to "speak truth to power."
It is the history we should all be celebrating this Fourth of July. But we won’t be wearing Nike’s offensive July Fourth shoes; based on Kaepernick’s complaint, Nike obediently recalled them from their stores.
Megan Rapinoe’s story is different, but equally irritating. Rapinoe is a genuine athletic superstar. She has the incomparable privilege of being co-captain of the U.S. women’s national soccer team and representing our nation in the World Cup, a sporting event viewed by billions.
Rapinoe is openly gay, and her beef with the nation whose flag she wears on her uniform is that we are still not sufficiently supportive of gay rights. She refuses to place her hand over her heart during the playing of the national anthem and she lets everyone know why. And by the way, she’s “not going to the f---ing White House,” so don’t ask.
The media reaction to Kaepernick’s latest stunt has been conjecture about whether it will help or hurt Nike sales. Do we care? Their reaction to Rapinoe’s petulant put-down of our country has been “well, she’s scored four goals so far in the final round.”
OK, I’m glad we’re keeping our priorities straight.
Let’s be absolutely clear on one point. Colin Kaepernick has every right to disrespect our flag, our anthem and our nation. So does Megan Rapinoe. Nike can manufacture and sell – or choose not to sell – any shoes it wants.
That’s not the problem. It’s the profound consequences of their actions.
We went through the same concern about Kaepernick’s antics a few years ago when he refused to stand for the national anthem before NFL games. He’s at it again.
And now athletes everywhere, including just about every young girl in America, are inspired by Megan Rapinoe and her spectacular on-field exploits. Arguably, her megaphone right now reaches more young people than anyone in the world. So what implicit messages does she convey? That America is not so great after all and that we must never cease looking for things to be offended about. Who cares about 250 years of being a world-wide force for good? Look at the dark side.
To my knowledge, neither she nor Kaepernick has ever identified specific, actionable concerns; nor has either taken any initiative, other than trumpeting their dissatisfaction, to correct them.
We’ve gone from somberly tearing down statues of Confederate generals to dissing giants of American history including Washington, Jefferson and Madison – and now Betsy Ross – lest someone, somewhere be offended. And then there was Kate Smith; New York Yankees and Philadelphia Flyers fans can no longer hear “God Bless America” because nearly a century ago she sang songs that were popular then but would be considered racially insensitive today.
How far will it go? It seems like there’s no bottom. The victimhood pushers will continue to dredge up any aspect of our history, government or culture that could conceivably be considered offensive, and then remind everyone to take offense.
Colin Kaepernick has monetized his routine handsomely, netting more notoriety and probably much more cash than he ever would have earned as a fading, underperforming NFL quarterback. Nike meanwhile has done very well with Kaepernick as their spokesperson, evidently without concern about the effect of his America-is-bad message on formative young minds.
Megan Rapinoe’s actions seem to have a political component; shortly after her profane dismissal of the anticipated White House invitation, she happily accepted an invitation to the U.S. Congress extended by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Both are beneficiaries of everything America has to offer. Sadly, they have squandered their opportunity to be positive role models for a generation of young Americans.