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The "Betsy Ross" Flag & Nike

Discussion in 'Debate Hall' started by Stephen Longshanks, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. Stephen Longshanks

    Stephen Longshanks Forum Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    I posted this on Facebook and thought I would share it here.

    Regarding the Nike-Betsy Ross flag thing: Our country didn't start out perfect, it still isn't. We are still on the journey to forming that "more perfect union" in our Founding Fathers vision. Sometimes it seems like we take one step forward and then slide two steps back. But we persevere. We keep trying to be what we know in our hearts we should be. A nation of opportunity. A nation of compassion. A welcoming nation. A shining light in a dark world. We occasionally succeed. We frequently fail. We stumble. We fall. We get back up and try again.

    I said all that to say this. The Betsy Ross flag doesn't symbolize our fledgling nation's imperfections. It symbolizes the bold new path undertaken by a people who decided to embrace a different set of ideals than any nation before had ever done. One of those ideals was the concept that "all men are created equal". An ideal we are working on to this day. The Betsy Ross flag represents the exact opposite of what the Confederate flags and monuments represent. It should be celebrated for the vision it represents, and not condemned for the imperfections of the time.
     
  2. Graviton

    Graviton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2015
    As was mentioned in another thread, symbols can mean different things to different people.

    Specific to this case, I believe the issue is not what the 13-star flag represents by itself; because by itself, you're right, it simply represents our government's first flag. The issue here is that the neo-Nazi far-right lunatic fringe has co-opted it for their literature. Thanks to them, to some people this flag now also represents white supremacy.

    So I think we should all stop telling other people what they're supposed to see when they look at a symbol. We each bring our own experience, knowledge, and perspective to how we view the world. We can state how we view a symbol and what it means to us, and we can discuss and debate differing perspectives; that's all healthy. What we should never do is demand that others read into a symbol the same things we do.

    This country was founded on the codification of a universal truth: all men are created equal. Sadly, it has largely been built on the misapplication of that truth. We can all be proud of the former while still acknowledging the latter, and acknowledging that the application of that principle, while improved, is still woefully inconsistent.
     
  3. Stephen Longshanks

    Stephen Longshanks Forum Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    No, it does not simply represent our government's first flag, it represents the founding principles that the government and nation were based on. One of them being equality. The Confederate flag, likewise, represents not the heritage of Southerners as they try to claim, but it represents the founding principles of the Confederacy. The main one of which was the continued enslavement of (mostly) African-Americans. The "Betsy Ross" flag can only be associated with the white supremacists if used in that context, which I seriously doubt that Nike was doing. If all white supremacists drove Fords, would it be right to view all Ford products as symbolizing white supremacy? Now if this flag had been originated by the white supremacist movement, that would be a different thing, but it wasn't.
    Our society is based on the concept that certain symbols have a commonly recognized meaning. Traffic signals are the most obvious example. Without that commonly recognized meaning of certain symbols, society would not function well at all. The commonly recognized meaning of the original US flag is that it represents the new nation with all its ideals and all its flaws. To single out one element of that new nation and try to narrow the meaning of that flag to that one element is dishonest and pathetic. And it flies in the face of logic and common sense.
     
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  4. Graviton

    Graviton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2015
    Traffic signals aren't symbols, they mean a very concrete, legal, and objective thing.

    You can try to tell me what I'm supposed to see when I look at something, but it's a fool's errand. Better to just explain what you see in it and why, and allow others to figure out what it means to them.
     
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  5. cton2.forge

    cton2.forge Active Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2018
    John Mill's marketplace of ideas. The concept being that good ideas will persevere and become strong and that 'bad' ideas will fail. Unfortunately that concept doesn't always work (see Nazi party and The Final Solution).

    The union is collapsing. It's Social Media's fault. Stay off of FB Longshanks!
     
  6. Zatrikon

    Zatrikon Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2015
    Why would you follow the interpretation of a group of stupid and evil people? Yes, symbols mean different things to different people, but that doesn't mean all those interpretations should be given equal weight. And it certainly doesn't mean that you automatically go with the worst possible interpretation.

    If neo-nazis started using your first name as their mascot, would you change your name? Would that make your name offensive? If they started using the modern American flag, calling it a symbol of their nazi ideology, would that make it the symbol that they say it is? Why let the whole society and its symbols be defined by its worst members?

    No! We absolutely need to educate people as to what our symbols mean. If good and intelligent people stop educating the society, then the only education they will receive will be from the stupid and evil people. We must not surrender all meaning to nazis! When nazis say something stupid, and you don't counter their stupid claims, you're just surrendering to them.

    The fact is that Betsy Ross herself was very much opposed to slavery. As were many of the founding fathers. There were efforts to abolish slavery from the very founding of the country. But the pace of progress is often slow. It takes time to get people to change a practice that has been going on for millenia, and accepted as normal around the world.

    Yes, but that doesn't mean that all those differing perspectives are equally valid. If you don't call out stupidity for being stupid, that is most definitely NOT healthy.
     
  7. Graviton

    Graviton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2015
    Agreed, but then that begs the question: given equal weight by whom? You can give them any weight you want. I can do the same. I'd guess that we would differ on how much weight each one got. What now? If you're looking for somebody to be right and somebody to be wrong, that's not how this works.

    My name is not a symbol, so it's a faulty analogy. But I think if some Grand Wizard with my name was on CNN spouting gibberish, I'd probably consider changing it, seeing as how I'd likely be confused with him. It certainly would make my life hard, at least for awhile.

    Offense is a choice made by the beholder. That's another facet of this whole thing. If you're offended by something, you're choosing to be offended. So no, my name would not be offensive but I would still have to deal with those who chose to be offended because they associated my name with his.

    It's not really a matter of "letting" society do anything (although that opens up a whole 'nother discussion, like who exactly is "society" and who has the authority to "let" them do anything). In this case it's about a corporation that wants to piss off as few people as possible. It can't make everybody happy, so it tried to appease its target demographic. They aren't trying to claim The Official Interpretation because there isn't one. They aren't insisting that everybody see the flag the same way Kaepernick does, they're just trying to keep making money.

    Funny you mention the modern flag, as I was going to use that to illustrate my point. That flag means different things to different people. To some it represents the grand ideals on which the country is founded. To others it represents only the current administration. To yet others it's a symbol of a country where minorities are not yet considered equal. It could mean more than one of these things to the same person, depending on context. You cannot demand that other people see in it the same things you do. That wouldn't square with the ideals you say it represents.

    I didn't say otherwise. By all means, tell people what those symbols mean to you, and explain why. What you have no right to do is insist that somebody else view it the same way. Individualism is one of the founding tenets, one over which you run roughshod if you demand that everybody else think and perceive the same way you do.

    What you're calling stupidity in this case is only disagreement, a difference of perspective and perception. You are arguing for an Official Interpretation of a symbol, decreed by somebody (who?) and imposed on everybody else; and dismissing anybody who sees it differently. That attitude is at the heart of the problem.
     
    Alskah likes this.
  8. Stephen Longshanks

    Stephen Longshanks Forum Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Official interpretation of this particular symbol provided by our Founding Fathers. Not open to interpretation. Does not symbolize slavery. Does symbolize first nation in the world to officially declare that all men are created equal. Again, this is documented history, and not open to interpretation. Just as the Confederate flags are symbols of slavery, because that was the stated intention of the founders of the Confederacy, their main reason for rebelling was to preserve the institution of slavery. Once again, this is documented history and not open to interpretation.
     
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  9. Alskah

    Alskah Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2019
    I do not have a strong opinion on the betsy Ross flag, too be honest. But to suggest that an intended meaning of a symbol can not turn into something with a completely different meaning is trying to argue a point for arguments sake. When the Nazi party first presented the Nazi flag, it didn't, I guarantee, have the same meaning it does now. It did not illicit the same kind of feelings in the very beginning that it does today. A symbol is more than its intended meaning. So, no, it doesn't really matter what Hitlers "offical" meaning of his parties flag was, it's completely irrelevant to what it now is.
     
    Graviton likes this.
  10. Graviton

    Graviton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2015
    Stephen, that's clearly wrong, as there are people who view it a different way. I disagree with them and you disagree with them. But you can rant and rave about it all day long, that simple fact isn't going to change.
     
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  11. Stephen Longshanks

    Stephen Longshanks Forum Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    There are people that view the Earth as flat, that doesn't make the Earth flat, nor does the fact that they hold that view make it valid. White supremacists can view that flag however they want, but it doesn't make their view valid nor does it change the fact of what the flag actually symbolizes. It's not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing. The Founding Fathers chose that flag as the symbol of the new nation in its entirety, and the mere fact that the new nation wasn't perfect and some idiots mistakenly think that this imperfection validates their distorted and illogical world view does not change what the flag symbolizes. And any moron who buys into their interpretation or thinks that now any use of that flag somehow validates their interpretation only empowers them. As a matter of fact, the winners in this stupid situation are actually the white supremacists, and not the protestors of Nike's choice to use this flag. It is an incredibly ridiculous argument that anyone of color should be offended by this flag. We should all be offended by white supremacists trying to use it, but transferring that offense to the flag itself is absolutely inane.
     
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  12. Stephen Longshanks

    Stephen Longshanks Forum Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Of course it did. The Nazi party's (and Hitler's) flag represented their beliefs from the beginning. The only difference when it was first presented is that the world wasn't fully aware of their beliefs. To try to say that the Nazi flag didn't represent the same values at first that it does now is to believe somehow that the Nazi party started out differently and then took an evil turn, which simply isn't true. They were the same from beginning to end, they just hid their intentions somewhat at first until they got power. Revisionist history arguments will get you nowhere.
     
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  13. Alskah

    Alskah Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2019
    Welcome back to the forum, @Stephen Longshanks, hasn't been the same without you. It should get alot more interesting around here now.
     
  14. Graviton

    Graviton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2015
    Sigh.

    I didn't say their view was valid, nor did I say you had to adopt their view. I simply said that they have it, which is something you seem to be arguing: that nobody can view a symbol in a way that you don't approve.

    That is all it is. Until you figure that out you're going to be upsetting yourself a lot.

    That doesn't change what it symbolizes to you. We're not talking about you, are we.

    Again: don't go around telling people what to think. That's not freedom.
     
    Alskah likes this.
  15. Stephen Longshanks

    Stephen Longshanks Forum Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Then you miss the whole point of the Nike/flag issue, and my point. The shoes were pulled because a few people accepted the white supremacist view as valid rather than the intended and generally accepted view. If they didn't, if they still viewed the flag as what it was intended to symbolize, there would have been no offense taken by its use. So this whole incident is saying that the intended and generally accepted view of that flag should be jettisoned by us all because a few people misuse it and another few people associate this symbol with that misuse rather than with its proper interpretation. That really is the same argument that the idiots who say the Confederate flags/monuments are about heritage are making.

    To accept and act on the view that the Betsy Ross flag somehow only symbolizes the slavery that was unfortunately still being practiced at the beginning of our country is to accept and normalize the illogical and bigoted view of a tiny minority of radicals. And it empowers a tiny minority of "offended" people to decide for the majority what a symbol's generally accepted meaning is. (And if you still think traffic lights aren't symbols just like this flag, then you should talk to someone who was in an accident caused by someone who "interpreted" the red light as permission to turn right without stopping. That is an example of a minority view of commonly accepted symbol that I see nearly every time I am out on the roads, and it is dangerous on a physical level just as these minority views are dangerous on a cultural level.)
     
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  16. Graviton

    Graviton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2015
    (I'll point out that "generally accepted" is not synonymous with "unanimously agreed upon and enforced". It means a minority (pun intended) views it differently.)

    No, that is not the argument, this is where I believe you and many others misconstrue the issue. Nobody's telling you your view of that flag has to change. Nobody's saying the racist asshats are right. Nobody's saying Nike has the power to decide for everybody else what the Official Interpretation is. The argument is that some people now associate that flag with white supremacists, rightly or wrongly, so Nike would rather pull the shoes than risk alienating those people. There's really no argument Nike is making at all, they simply made a business decision.

    In fact, you're claiming that Nike is doing exactly what you're doing in this thread: defining for everybody else the Official and Proper Meaning. So your argument isn't against somebody imposing their perspective on everybody else, you just want to be the one to do it.
     
  17. Stephen Longshanks

    Stephen Longshanks Forum Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    And therein lies the problem. So Nike has alienated a great many more people by pulling the shoes than by not pulling them. That sounds like a great business decision to me. See, that's what happens when you decide not to "risk alienating" people with a minority view, you make stupid decisions.
     
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  18. cton2.forge

    cton2.forge Active Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2018
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika

    HIJACKED!!!

    Originally a Eurasian ancient religious symbol meaning auspiciousness and good luck. Adopted as a symbol of Aryan identity. Not so lucky for the Jews. Now universally accepted as a symbol of hate.

    Symbology - ironically also referred to as disambiguation. Does not disambiguate most of the time. Can mean whatever the heck you want it to.

    Our founding fathers said all men were created equal and we've run with that. But in the beginning all men excluded the following:

    1: Anyone without male genitalia (so about half the population give or take)
    2: Anyone without property
    3: Anyone who wasn't white

    Things change. Usually for the best. We like to think the nation's founders had a vision and we're following the original intent but we always place the blinders on. We are thinking about what they were thinking about within the confines of our own specific experiences and reality. When in reality the way the world has changed would blow their minds.

    Objective truth is extraordinarily difficult to establish. Everything, EVERYTHING is open to interpretation. Maybe not to Longshanks, but that's the only exception.
     

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