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Opinion
Stephen L. Carter

Nike Has Free-Speech Rights, Too

Plus two other patriotic American controversies to consider this holiday weekend.

Noncontroversial patriotic footwear.

Noncontroversial patriotic footwear.

Photographer: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America

Now that the Fourth of July has slipped past, let’s take a quick look at a trio of controversies over history and tradition that erupted just as the holiday was creeping up on us.

The most prominent was the uproar over Nike’s decision to withdraw a version of its Air Max 1 Quick Strike honoring Betsy Ross, which was to go on sale around Independence Day. The shoe displayed on its heel the original U.S. flag with its 13 stars — which Ross either did or didn’t create — and was pulled after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick pointed out to the company “that the Betsy Ross flag had been co-opted by groups espousing racist ideologies.”