• Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    This whole story was obviously planned by Nike for name recognition. I mean what better story than to make a shoe with a version of the American flag, and have their "ambassador" who is known for kneeling for the American flag, call it out as racist? Give me a break. It's so obvious it's a joke. The fact that we're talking about it is playing right into their hands.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    The word I was thinking about isn't 'nigger' but rather 'negro' (or, in French 'nègre').Pierre-Normand

    "The 'N' word" has never represented 'negro' or 'nègre', to the best of my knowledge. And 'nigger' was definitely a term of disparagement and scorn under slavery. We know it was because documents written by slave-holders use the term disparagingly and with scorn. That isn't to say that was the only attitude that slave holders had toward their chattel.

    BTW, I wonder if the French use a circumlocution like "le mot 'n'". It seems unlikely.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    oops - meant to include the link. Here it is.

    "the 13-star model, a design associated with the Revolutionary War, the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross and, for some people, a painful history of oppression and racism." and so on.

    An earlier version of the headline did include the word "slavery". It isn't altogether unusual for headlines to be revised, it seems.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    So, expressing concern that X symbol has been co-opted by others who are racist is not the same as claiming that if corporation Y uses symbol X, it's a racist gesture, so, unless there's something more to this, it looks like you might be raging against a strawman here, Bitter Crank.Baden

    Sigh. I wasn't claiming that Nike was making a racist gesture. The article states that some people think that the Ross flag is racist, because some people (Nazis, for example) have used the flag in their iconography. I'm pretty sure Nike was making a merely shallow patriotic gesture, having nothing to do with patriotism or racism. It's like the plastic Christmas-design bag at Target or Walmart. The bag design has nothing to do with the Incarnation.

    That Christmas-design bags or flags on shoes are shallow uses of common symbols doesn't prevent people from freighting the symbols, and then claiming that Walmart is stealing Christmas or that Nike is promoting racism. What I am objecting to is the anachronistic linking of recent usage of the flag to the original (and dominant) usage of the flag.

    People could object to the standard design of the flag (alternating red/white stripes and a rectangular arrangement of state-stars). After all, it flew over the state houses of slave states before 1860, as well as over the state houses of non-slave states. The Declaration of Independence was written by a slave owner and (to some people) a slave raper, Thomas Jefferson. The 'Father of the Country' was also a slave owner.

    So national, religious, corporate, university, symbols (among others) get this vague aura around them incorporating all the uses to which they have been put. That's life. Get used to it, Colin Kaepernick, et al.

    When The Philosophy Forum organizes a house band it should be called "Raging Against the Strawman"
  • Michael
    8.1k
    So if someone puts on a Betty Ross flag sticker on their shoe, does that make them racist?

    Should we be looking to Kapernick to define what is offensive and racist for everyone?

    If the answer is "No" to these questions, the what is the real reason Nike put out this story?
    Harry Hindu

    Put out what story? The shoes were announced June 24th. As best as I can tell Kaepernick contacted them after this date to complain, after which they decided to pull them – and then explain to the public why they were doing so.

    I don't really know Kaepernick's role with Nike, but I doubt he's kept abreast of all the products they're making prior to their public announcement.

    Are you actually suggesting that Kaepernick complained weeks ago and Nike continued with the accouncement - and initial delivery to stores across the country - despite having already chosen to cancel (and so recall) them?
  • ssu
    1.6k
    ike's job is to make money any way they can. K is apparently helping them do that. All sounds very American to me.Baden
    Yes, corporations obviously make money by asking retailers to pull off their new item that have just arrived to stores.

    So if someone puts on a Betty Ross flag sticker on their shoe, does that make them racist?Harry Hindu
    Doesn't the Betsy Ross flag symbolize hate?

    Some on the right surely hope so: that the flag will become the next thing that will be portrayed to be the (hidden?) sign of white supremacist ethno-nationalists.

    The whole thing has already been made to be an issue in the culture wars as this idiotic topic has already been dragged into the idiotic debate.

    Just wait for Trump to show the "Betsy Ross Flag" and you have the perfect storm in the tea cup. (For a couple of days before the social media discourse finds a new issue to fight the outrage / counter-outrage farce, that is.)
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    That fellow appears to be excessively happy. He should probably be investigated.
  • ssu
    1.6k
    My wife is Indian (and a Hindu) and gets annoyed at all of the fuss over swastika (from all angles--that it was co-opted, that people are largely ignorant of the Hindu usage, etc.)Terrapin Station
    And if something is co-opted, the worst thing is to then to decline the use of the symbol because "someone ignorant might misunderstand the use". This just enforces that their misconception was actually totally correct.

    It should be obvious to anybody that the extreme right wants to own all national symbols, whatever they are, and are extremely delighted when the left starts promoting the argument that this or that symbol is a symbol of the extreme-right, a symbol of hatred and ethno-nationalism. And those idiots on the left that say this are eagerly quoted (which they themselves appear to be happy about), make things worse.

    The kind of views Bitter Crank holds, which I would argue represent the 'silent' majority, are simply sidelined by both vocal fringes.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    The kind of views Bitter Crank holds, which I would argue represent the 'silent' majority, are simply sidelined by both vocal fringes.ssu

    I think I know @Bitter Crank well enough to say that he is not, never has been, and never will be either silent or in the majority.
  • Baden
    8.5k
    The fact that we're talking about it is playing right into their hands.Harry Hindu

    BC is clearly a sleeper agent and cackling into his complimentary $800 sweatshop plimsolls as we speak. Yes, he wears them on his face. He's that edgy.
  • ssu
    1.6k
    I think I know Bitter Crank well enough to say that he is not, never has been, and never will be either silent or in the majority.T Clark
    And this actually tells just how ludicrous the whole issue is when you think of it.

    I say it's about the dumbing down of the public discourse.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Nike's job is to make money any way they can. K is apparently helping them do that. All sounds very American to me.Baden

    Making money any way they can is as French as pate foie gras, as Irish as boiled potatoes, as Ugandan as matoke, and as at home in Thailand as pad Thai. All sounds very economic to me.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    The elderly among us will remember the "Satanic Panic" of the 1970s-1990s. Satan was to those lunatics what being racist or fascist is to the current crop of lunatics. Proctor and Gamble had somehow gotten away with being a satanic cult for decades, when someone noticed their logo. Paroxysms of paranoia! What is America coming to? Satan's soap?

    atlasobscura.

    Clearly this is a satanic symbol. 13! stars, a bearded man in the crescent moon... obviously satanic. How could anyone interpret it otherwise? Wicked, wicked, wicked.

    519b8d836bb3f76f63000005-750.jpg
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    I say it's about the dumbing down of the public discourse.ssu

    How can public discourse, involving billions, be anything other than "dumbed down"?
  • ssu
    1.6k
    How can public discourse, involving billions, be anything other than "dumbed down"?Bitter Crank
    Because, well, even now public discourse doesn't involve billions, just millions. And that is the way to dumb it down. I still see in some newspapers that in the net version response-sections people genuinely try to give informative and poignant yet cordial responses…as if it was like in the old days when people wrote to the newspapers knowing that not all would be published. It's not the trash like in Youtube-responses (who would even read them). And the obvious answer is not only moderation, but the people do value or respect the forum they are participating.

    (Just think what this place would be in a matter of weeks if the local admins and mods, would stop and anything would be admitted here as if that would promote "free speech". It would be a gutter and no sane person would write here. We would get the real cranks here and not just one Bitter one.)
  • fdrake
    2.7k
    Does it really take that much effort not to pick a symbol like that? One imagines the use of the symbol by political groups shows up in basic research. I mean it's a bad idea to use it because of backlash.

    Even though, y'know, drawing a line between this and a swastika is hard based on principles. It's a difference of degree really. The most sensible option is not to use any symbol which is affiliated with any scandalous groups unless it is an intentional show of support. Why?

    As much as I dislike Rawls, he provides a good rule of thumb here. If you want to minimise the maximum harm done by your branding, you don't use the dodgy symbol.

    But using it for free grassroots marketing is a smart play.
  • Coben
    963
    Correct. Nike and patriotism have no connection. If Nike wanted to prove their patriotic fides, they could start manufacturing their shoes here instead of SE Asia, and pay their American employees a living wage.Bitter Crank

    And even then, if they did all that, it'd still just be manipulative riding on the achievements of others to use that symbol. It's a sneaker made for money, It's a bit like putting a crucifix on the sneaker. Whether one thinks the crucifix is a symbol with negative or postive associations, Nike earned neither in making that shoe. Nor with Betsy Ross' flag.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    The Guardian reader responses are not tightly moderated, and the result is more amusing moments, as well as more pointless (but not rude, crude) response. The New York Times reader responses are very tightly moderated and the result is a high level of comment, very little humor, and no pointless posts. I think the Guardian gets it a little closer to just right than the NYT, but degustibus non disputandem est.

    It's a bit like putting a crucifix on the sneaker.Coben

    Might be helpful for the "Hail Mary pass".

    Does it really take that much effort not to pick a symbol like that? One imagines the use of the symbol by political groups shows up in basic research.fdrake

    The original flag of the USA is not a 'symbol like that'. It is a distinguished symbol, abused or not. The cross has been abused at cross-burnings, yet we continue to use crosses without anyone thinking that it's display represents racism (unless it is on your lawn, burning away). Proctor and Gamble dithered over the "Satan worship" smear, but in the end they kept the symbol.

    It's too late in the advertising game to complain about using the flag to sell products. It's far, far too common.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.1k
    The US dime used to bear what was a symbol of Italian fascism--the bundle of sticks and an axe called the fasces. It was an ancient Roman symbol.Bitter Crank

    The word "fascism" is actually derived from that Latin bundle word, "fasces", as is "fascine" which is a type of faggot. But the English, "fasten", is supposed to have a completely different, Germanic origin. Isn't that fascinating? The English can fasten up a faggot without being fascist. Well of course, not even if you're the fastest to fasten up a bundle, it doesn't mean you're fascist. None of this could be fastenating though, because "fasten" only sounds similar "fascin", and has a similar meaning, but they're different words. So they must be spelled differently to ensure that separation.

    And, there's a reason why the American flag has fifty stars and not some other number. Though it might be history, there is a separation here. What was once an accepted symbol may not be acceptable today, if it reminds us of something we want to separate ourselves from.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    if it reminds us of something we want to separate ourselves from.Metaphysician Undercover

    Does CK want to separate (somebody, himself, whoever) from the American Revolution? Maybe he feels it was an inadequate revolution? Too bourgeois? Just a bunch of privileged anti-tax whiners? Not a revolution for the slaves? Perhaps his criticism was too timid?
  • Maw
    1.6k
    Hilarious over-analyzing and indignation over what is a straightforward non-issue. Nike's core target audience is a younger demographic, around 16-34 years old, which is an overlap of two of the largest and heaviest consumer spending generations, Millennials and Gen Z, who are more likely to buy shoes, care about what shoes they wear, want to be hip and fashionable. According to a recent PEW survey, these generations are more - sometimes far more - liberal/progressive on social and political issues than older generations. Notably, a majority of Millennials and Gen Z (62% and 61%, respectively) approve of "players choosing to kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest", compared to the minority approval ratings of older generations (e.g., only 37% of Boomers approve). When Nike signed on Colin Kaepernick and prominently featured him on a controversial ad campaign, a poll found that "those 18 to 34 approving of Nike’s decision by a 67-21 margin, while voters 65 and older disapproved of the decision, 46 to 39 percent".

    I won't say whether or not Colin Kaepernick is correct his view of the Betty Ross flag, or if Nike is correct in yielding to him, and pulling the product out of market, mostly because I don't care, but also because it is irrelevant to Nike's overarching brand strategy.
  • Brett
    768


    Yes, it suggests, for a moment, they were a bit casual about their core market and then pulled themselves into line again. A costly mistake.

    Though we’ll never know what might or might not have happened to sales.

    Edit: this is a very tricky time for business.
  • Brett
    768
    Though I have to say, either someone got it really wrong in market research, or they over reacted.
  • Baden
    8.5k


    Yep. The statistics do hammer it home. But we all knew that, or should have.
  • Baden
    8.5k
    Sigh. I wasn't claiming that Nike was making a racist gesture.Bitter Crank

    I know you weren't claiming that. The quote was to do with the perceived claims re K. You seemed to be looking for a PC-gone-mad nail to hammer down and instead found a boring corporation doing boring corporate stuff.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6.1k
    Does CK want to separate (somebody, himself, whoever) from the American Revolution? Maybe he feels it was an inadequate revolution? Too bourgeois? Just a bunch of privileged anti-tax whiners? Not a revolution for the slaves? Perhaps his criticism was too timid?Bitter Crank

    There was a civil war (whatever that means), and there were reasons for that war. The flag is a symbol of the political state, and there are many degrees of separation between the political state at the time of the American Revolution and now. As much as we may celebrate our independence with fireworks, military parades, or whatever the hoopla, there is separation between the political state then and the political state now. The name "Rome", carries on, and we think Rome has been around for thousands of years. There could even be a Romulus and Remus day, celebrated by some with great fireworks, but that political state is gone. The flag represents the political state, and the political state exists as the ideology, which is gone because we do not support it. Why ought we support that flag?

    Hilarious over-analyzing and indignation over what is a straightforward non-issue.Maw

    Nike likes to create the sensational non-issue. It utilizes the oldest trick in the advertising book, free publicity from controversy. And since they're very careful to choose a non-issue, it can't backfire. Ever think it may have all been a setup? How many "discontinued shoes" are there going to be out there in the world, as expensive collectors items?
  • Coben
    963
    Though I have to say, either someone got it really wrong in market research, or they over reacted.Brett
    Overreactions are infectious, and that holds true for the various political groups. And is especially true nowadays. For good and for ill. I am quite sure that it could have become a storm in a teacup that still had real effects on shoe sales. And this year, in this time, and given Nike's more or less neutrality, it would have been the left. But in another period of time it could have been the Right, if, say Nike was an openly liberal compary supporting liberal causes, freaking out that a company is using a national, patriotic symbol, and they would have had an infectious storm in a tea cup.
  • Coben
    963
    It's too late in the advertising game to complain about using the flag to sell products. It's far, far too common.Bitter Crank

    Though like a dead metaphor, it's still a metaphor. (not that that contradicts anything you wrote) Enjoyed the Hail Mary pass response....
  • ssu
    1.6k
    The Guardian reader responses are not tightly moderated, and the result is more amusing moments, as well as more pointless (but not rude, crude) response. The New York Times reader responses are very tightly moderated and the result is a high level of comment, very little humor, and no pointless posts. I think the Guardian gets it a little closer to just right than the NYT, but degustibus non disputandem est.Bitter Crank
    I was thinking about the local papers here, but this of course is quite universal.

    It depends just what kind of discourse the paper / media wants, which depends on the focus that the media wants. For me, the 'boring' academic / professional discourse is what is meaningful, even if you have to have some knowledge about the subject in order to follow the debate, not the 'human interest' easy reading type of discourse.
  • Maw
    1.6k
    Yes, it suggests, for a moment, they were a bit casual about their core market and then pulled themselves into line again. A costly mistake.

    Though we’ll never know what might or might not have happened to sales.
    Brett

    Nike's stock prices fell 0.03% on June 26th when the shoe was pulled from their online site, and exceeded the value prior to the drop less than a week later, so no probably wasn't a costly mistake.
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