On Tuesday, former Navy SEAL Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) weighed in on the controversy over Nike pulling the “Betsy Ross Flag” edition of a shoe after the original national anthem protester, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, complained that some might find it “offensive.” Those who have a problem with the flag of the American Revolution, Crenshaw suggested, might want to find a “permanent safe space” — or communist Cuba, which Kaepernick infamously praised in 2016.
The “Betsy Ross Flag” controversy earlier this week occurred amid reports that Nike let Kaepernick — with whom the company signed a multi-million-dollar deal last year and who has repeatedly denigrated the United States — convince the company to pull a patriotic edition of a shoe featuring the original 13-star flag created by Ross during the American Revolution. The flag, Kaepernick suggested, might offend some people because of potential association with an era of slavery and its adoption by some on the far-right, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Nike’s decision has prompted Arizona’s Republican governor to pull the financial incentives offered to Nike to build a manufacturing facility, two Democratic governors — California’s Gavin Newsom and New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham — to praise Nike and attempt to court them for the facility, and multiple Democratic presidential candidates to cheer Nike for dropping the patriotic shoe.
Crenshaw, who earned two Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with valor for his ten years as a Navy SEAL — during which time he lost an eye due to an IED blast — had a far different reaction than Democratic lawmakers.
“If you’re offended by a shoe celebrating the flag of the American Revolution, it’s a good indication that you may be better off living in a permanent safe space. Or Cuba,” Crenshaw tweeted Tuesday.
Crenshaw’s reference to Cuba is particularly relevant in the Nike/Kaepernick debate, as the former San Francisco 49ers QB sparked outrage, particularly among Miami’s Cuban population, for celebrating Fidel Castro during his final season in the NFL. When a Cuban reporter from the Miami Herald called out Kaepernick for wearing a shirt featuring Castro and Malcolm X with the caption “Like minds think alike,” Kaepernick responded by praising the brutal dictator.
“One thing that Fidel Castro did do is they have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system—which we do not do here, even though we’re fully capable of doing that,” said Kaepernick. When the reporter pushed back by noting that Castro broke up families, Kaepernick replied by slamming America, once again. “We do break up families here,” he said. “That’s what mass incarceration is. That was the foundation of slavery, so our country has been based on that as well as the genocide of Native Americans.”
Kaepernick started the national anthem protest movement during the 2016 preseason when he refused to stand to honor the flag during the performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” telling reporters afterward, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Needless to say, Crenshaw views America through a far different lens. In addition to his tweet on the Betsy Ross Flag controversy Tuesday, Crenshaw ripped a thematically connected post by New York Times Opinion decrying “the myth of America as the greatest nation on earth.”
“Wow. What a dismal, cynical, ungrateful, and context-less depiction of America,” the congressman tweeted. “Just remember NYT: as you criticize the US for not being perfect, your misguided speech will always be protected.”