Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File
Actor Chris Pratt seems like one of the more genuine guys in Hollywood, and probably someone that a lot of us would enjoy hanging out with. After all, he’s someone who has posted about his hunting exploits on social media, which probably doesn’t endear him to the Hollywood elite. Yet he still does it, probably because he doesn’t care all that much. He’s one of the more bankable stars in the world right now thanks to the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.
However, it seems a t-shirt he wore recently has stirred a small bit of controversy. At least, that’s what Yahoo! is claiming.
The Marvel star’s top shows the American flag with a coiled snake over the top and a message underneath which reads “Don’t Tread On Me.”
The writing and snake combo on its own is depicted on the Gadsden flag; a symbol created by Christopher Gadsden, a Charleston-born brigadier general in the Continental Army.
It came to prominence during the Revolutionary War of the US by colonists who wanted independence from Great Britain.
— hunter harris (@hunteryharris) July 15, 2019
Although it is one of the symbols and flags used by the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team, Metallica, as well as some libertarian groups, over the years the flag has been adopted by Far Right political groups like the Tea Party, as well as gun-toting supporters of the Second Amendment.
It has therefore become a symbol of more conservative and far right individuals and, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the US, it also is “sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts.”
Now, to be sure, I have no problem as a “gun-toting supporter of the Second Amendment” of being associated with the Gadsden Flag. Of course, that’s not really the Gadsden Flag, but it’s close enough that we all know what it’s supposed to be.
I like the idea of “Don’t Tread On Me” on a visceral level. The gun-rights community embracing that symbol should serve as a potent warning to those who would infringe on our right to keep and bear arms.
Indeed, it was also popular with Tea Party activists.
What bothers me is that the article links the Tea Party and us to racism without making much of an effort to do so. The writer claims it, and it must, therefore, be so. It should be noted that the EEOC claims it’s “interpreted to convent racially-tinged messages.” That doesn’t mean it’s racist or even racially-tinged.
However, I shouldn’t be surprised by this attempt. There’s been a strong effort through the years to paint the Second Amendment community as racist when nothing could be further from the truth. Gun rights supporters are welcoming to anyone who will stand with us. While there are individual exceptions, my experience has shown good old redneck “Bubbas” welcoming transgender people, black people, Hispanic people, women, or any other kind of person you want to name.
That’s the opposite of racism.
Then again, the problem isn’t racism as a whole, but an effort to further stigmatize gun owners. Racism is a vile and disgusting, and no one wants to be associated with it. By trying to paint gun owners and freedom lovers as racist, progressives are hoping people will step away from the gun rights community as a whole and allow them to run roughshod over our rights, which is why they’re attacking Pratt.
The popular actor wore a shirt. There’s no context to suggest this is racism. None whatsoever. So why make the claim? Because Pratt is well-known and popular. He doesn’t engage in politics publicly, which is also a problem for them. As a hunter, they figure he probably does support gun rights to some degree.
So, they try to shame him. He loves his country and its history, which is also problematic for them, and they want to shame him into even greater silence or, even better, create pressure for him to advocate for liberal causes.
There’s nothing racist about the Tea Party, gun rights, or the Gadsden Flag. That doesn’t anti-gunners they won’t keep trying to claim it is.