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MSNBC Guest on Betsy Ross Flag Controversy: Might as Well ‘Wear a Swastika’

MSNBC Guest on Betsy Ross Flag Controversy: Might as Well ‘Wear a Swastika’

Georgetown University sociologist Michael Eric Dyson compared the Betsy Ross flag, an iconic early design for the American flag, to a burning cross and a Nazi Swastika during an appearance Wednesday on MSNBC.

Dyson’s comments came in response to news earlier in the week that apparel giant Nike was shelving sneakers emblazoned with the Betsy Ross flag, also known as the 13-star flag. The company’s decision to pull the shoes, which had already been shipped to retailers, was influenced by former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who reportedly complained to Nike officials that the design was offensive.

During the MSNBC segment, anchor Hallie Jackson asked Dyson whether Nike’s decision was an instance of “PC culture run amok.”

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“Words matter. Symbols matter, too,” Dyson said. “Why don’t we wear a swastika for July 4th? Because, I don’t know, it makes a difference. The cross burning on somebody’s lawn. Why don’t we just have a Nike celebration of the cross – those symbols are symbols of hate. So we can take PC culture back.”

The Betsy Ross flag has become controversial

If the Betsy Ross flag is controversial, it seems to be a recent development. As political commentator Dave Rubin noted in a tweet Wednesday, the 13-star flag was on display during both of President Barack Obama’s inaugurations.

But in 2016, a group of Michigan students sparked controversy by waving a Betsy Ross flag along with a President Donald Trump flag at a local high school football game.

Critics have argued that the flag’s colonial origins, dating back to a period when the United States still permitted slavery, make it problematic. Others cite the recent use of the flag by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan as proof that it’s a symbol of hate.

But at least one expert on the subject disagrees.


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Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, responded to the most recent Betsy Ross flag controversy in a tweet on Tuesday.

“The ‘Betsy Ross flag’ is not a white supremacist symbol or a hate symbol,” he said. “Isolated examples of usage do not make it a ‘thing.’ It’s a longstanding historical and patriotic flag overwhelmingly used by ordinary Americans.”

While Pitcavage’s commentary makes sense in theory, the recent conversion of Pepe the Frog and the “OK sign” to hate symbols would seem to suggest internet culture doesn’t believe in “isolated examples.” For further proof, see the civil war that broke out in the replies to his tweet.

WATCH HERE:

Cover image: Michael Eric Dyson comments on the Betsy Ross flag during an MSNBC appearance. (Screen grab)



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