A fight over Nike shoes is the most possible celebration of July 4, 2019


If you’re looking for heroes in the battle for manufactured and then recalled Nike flag shoes, you’re out of luck.

The footwear giant made the first mistake when it tried to monetize American patriotism by introducing a new interpretation of a 32-year-old shoe, the Nike Air Max 1, just in time for July 4 with a first release of the American flag. emblazoned on its heel. It’s not the first apparel company to try to cash in on the cult of the flag, but still, the marketing of the flag is sticky.

In this case, the flag was the 13 stars and 13 stripes version commonly known as the Betsy Ross flag, as the design was attributed to America’s favorite 18th century upholsterer. It makes sense, right? Nothing says the 4th of July like the flag most associated with the Revolutionary War.

But that was the second mistake, at least in the minds of the Awakened Brigade. That’s because this version of the flag is not only a symbol of a time when the fledgling United States was A-OK with slavery, but also an emblem adopted by some right-wing extremists and, well, the supporters of President Donald Trump.

Things only got worse for Nike after trying to quietly reverse the pitch. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the sneaker company made the move after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick — of National Anthem protest fame — urged him not to sell the shoe. He wasn’t just any outraged liberal calling the company to account, he was the guy Republicans consider the No. 1 blatant disrespectful.

Nike’s decision to shelve the shoe likely would have passed without controversy had the company been taken down by one of its own millennial employees or a less right-wing scandal-machine activist, like Shannon Watts. But no.

Either way, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey put the icing on the controversy cake early Tuesday morning. In a series of tweets, Ducey announced he was unilaterally rescinding financial incentives the state had given Nike to persuade it to build an $184 million manufacturing plant in Goodyear, Arizona, which was to be announced later. late in the day.

Ducey concluded, “Arizona’s economy is doing very well without Nike. We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.

I’m awaiting news from Nike on whether it will continue with the factory, which was expected to create more than 500 full-time jobs when it opens next year. According to the Arizona Republic, the town of Goodyear (near Phoenix) had agreed to provide $2 million in financial incentives, and the state was providing up to $1 million more.

The near-ubiquitous practice of bribing businesses to locate (or stay) in town is deplorable, and we’d all be better off if states and local governments stopped doing it. But Ducey arrived in the right place through the wrong vehicle: a fit of resentment over Nike’s decision not to release a shoe exploiting the American flag for commercial purposes. And depending on Nike’s response, it’s a move that could have real consequences for workers in Arizona.

As sadly named Twitter user Concrete Milkshakes said, “Eliminate jobs to pwn (sic) libs. Great stuff, keep it up.

Jon Healey is associate editor of the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times.


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