The story of a recently naturalized American citizen, who immigrated to the United States from Africa, stands in stark contrast to former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s successful push to get retail giant Nike to shelve sneakers emblazoned with an early version of the American flag.
Kaepernick reportedly told Nike officials in early July that he found the Betsy Ross flag design, also known as the 13-star flag, offensive for its associations with slavery-era America.
But while Kaepernick and other liberals find the Betsy Ross flag problematic, Fode Bade, a political refugee from Guinea profiled in the National Review on Thursday, proudly sees it as a symbol of the nation that welcomed him with open arms.
Bade became a U.S. citizen on the Fourth of July, just three days after Nike announced they would be pulling the Betsy Ross Flag Air Max 1 USA sneakers following Kaepernick voicing his concerns. In a photo for the National Review piece, Bade can be seen smiling while holding up the 13-star flag.
“I’m so grateful to this country,” Bade, attending a special naturalization ceremony at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, told the National Review.
“Coming here, being an American citizen is the greatest thing someone can have on this earth,” he added. “Americans don’t realize how good this country is.”
A fellow African immigrant, who attended the ceremony to see his son naturalized, said the 13-star flag represented, “A better life.”
“America is great,” the man’s son told National Review.
The Betsy Ross flag sparks a debate over America’s “original sin”
Some might see these freshly naturalized immigrants’ pride in America and unperturbed attitude toward the Betsy Ross flag as a subtle rebuke to Kaepernick and Nike.
Christopher Tremoglie, who authored the National Review piece on Bade, certainly does.
“The irony here should not go unnoticed. Leftist American elites peddle a narrative of oppression while those from some of the grimmest places on earth continue to see the United States as a beacon of hope,” he wrote. “As a billion-dollar corporation and millionaire athlete sought to delegitimize American exceptionalism, an African father did everything in his power to make sure his children became legal citizens — and specifically did so at the house of the latest American hero that leftists have targeted as offensive.”
Critics, meanwhile, 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.
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 last week.
The "Betsy Ross flag" is not a white supremacist symbol or a hate symbol. Isolated examples of usage do not make it a "thing." It's a longstanding historical and patriotic flag overwhelmingly used by ordinary Americans.https://t.co/UkOqjtkDdg
— Mark Pitcavage (@egavactip) July 2, 2019
“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.”
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- Fode Bade holds up the Betsy Ross flag.: Screen grab