A Georgetown University professor compared the Betsy Ross American flag to a Nazi swastika and a burning Ku Klux Klan cross on Wednesday. 

Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson made the comparison on an MSNBC panel discussing Nike’s recent decision to pull a Fourth of July-themed shoe. He made the comparison after host Hallie Jackson asked why people might be upset at the flag’s inclusion on the shoe.

“Words matter. Symbols matter, too. Why don’t we wear a swastika for July 4th?” Dyson asked. “‘Cause, I don’t know, it makes a difference. The cross burning on somebody’s lawn? Why don’t we just have a Nike celebration of the [cross]? Well, because those symbols are symbols of hate.”

The Betsy Ross flag is one of the earliest iterations of the American flag, containing 13 stars to represent the original 13 colonies.

Dyson earlier explained that the flag is offensive because “it hails from the Revolutionary period…which was deeply embroiled in, you know, enslavement,” citing George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as examples of slaveholders. He then explained that “right-wing white supremacists have used it as a rallying cry for their own cause.”


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“Right now, this flag has been used by people who wanna pummel African Americans, Latinx, Jews, and other people.”

Earlier this week, Nike canceled the release of the shoe after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick allegedly told the company that the Ross flag is offensive because of its slavery era origins.

In an email to Campus Reform, Dyson said that coverage of his comments was inaccurate.

“I did not make the comparison. It’s a lie,” Dyson said while referencing a tweet he posted after the segment.

The tweet called on “racists & white supremacists who are using patriotism as a cover” to stop. Dyson also denied making the comparison in the tweet.

In a separate email, Dyson told Campus Reform that he regretted making the association.

“I certainly regret the association. I answered a question about PC culture and used this example,” Dyson said. “I’m even more regretful that the point of the protest/resistance to the flag is lost [in] its use by bigots to promote their agenda.”

Campus Reform reached out to Georgetown University but received no response in time for publication.

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