Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bummed out the Tea Party has taken over Don't Tread on Me, and what it means to U.S. Soccer

This is the Gadsden flag. Perhaps you've seen it. More commonly known as the "Don't Tread on Me" flag, it was used during the American Revolution as both a unifying symbol and a giant middle finger toward Great Britain. It's one of the most awesome flags in U.S. history. I'm resentful the uber-conservative Tea Party movement has adopted it as an unofficial emblem and given the Gadsden flag modern political connotations.

I'm tempted to go on a giant rant about how what conservatives are trying to do today is in no way analogous to what the Founding Fathers were doing when they flew the Gadsden flag. But regardless of how wrong the far right is, that's not the real reason I'm resentful toward the Tea Party's usurpation of this flag.

The real reason is I'm jealous liberals didn't come up with the idea first. Drawing on history to make a modern sociopolitical statement, regardless of how accurate it is, always makes a powerful impression. It bums me out that "Don't Tread on Me," an emblematic statement of defiance, will now always be associated with politics I despise.

There are other flags conservatives could choose from. The Navy currently uses a modified version of the Gadsden flag called the First Navy Jack; it's arguably more patriotic since it incorporates red and white stripes instead of a plain yellow field. There's also the equally badass "Come and Take It" flag, used in the Texas Revolution in 1835. I'd be fine with the rightists adopting either of these. I just wish they would've stayed away from Gadsden!

Luckily, the rattlesnake image lives on today in at least one non-political entity. Nike created this logo in 2006 as part of a marketing campaign for the U.S. national soccer team. The current U.S. soccer jersey features a simplified "DTOM" snake logo on the reverse side of the badge inside the shirt, and Nike even sponsored a surprisingly decent rap song by star U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey (huh?) called "Don't Tread". But this crest has transcended marketing.

It's a rebuttal against those both outside and within the United States who constantly snort that Americans can't play soccer. In a world where the U.S. is the fat, rich kid on the block, soccer is one venue where Americans are underdogs. It's a perfect symbol for U.S. Soccer. Their current badge is meaningless--"US" in block letters with a soccer ball. Meh. It even sports three stars above the crest as if the U.S. has won anything. It's about time they adopt the iconic snake-and-ball logo as their primary badge, complete with the famous DON'T TREAD ON ME underneath. This is how to use the Gadsden flag, and it's the only way we can take it back from a newfound political meaning.


  1. "There are other flags conservatives could choose from."

    what about this one

    and this one

    this one used to be pretty popular

    oh yeah and this

    1. Fu liberal gays. You will Always be the minority. I know a good flag for you...the rainbow one.

  2. I was trying not to be too inflammatory, Lauren :)

  3. yeah, given that the loudest detractors of the World Cup were on the right, what would annoy them more than to see that a symbol they've adopted is being used by a soccer team?

  4. You would talk shit about the Bonnie Blue Flag, Lauren!

  5. Haha I guess you and conservatives have at least one thing in common then...an appreciation for a revered American symbol!

  6. hey now, i'm just pointing out how innocent flags have been adapted for more political purposes.

    granted, i have an adaptation of the bonnie blue tattooed on my arm, so i can't talk too much shit!

  7. Here is a flag for those who have a wide stance:


  8. The Tea Party is drawing on history and using this particular flag because of the uprising it represents due to the over Taxation we are experiencing in this Country today. Benjamin Franklin was actually the one who came up with the idea of the Rattlesnake. He wanted it to be the national "animal", not the bald eagle. He said he felt the rattlesnake was the perfect sign of strength while also giving a warning to all.

  9. Interesting article to stumble on, and as an outsider and mocker of the US national football team, I'm surprised to find something kind of cool about them re: the use of DTOM.

    But in terms of flags being misused, Australia has one which has been used in both far left wings and far right wings. It's called the Eureka flag.

    Originally flown over the Eureka Stockade (a goldminer's small scale revolution which basically turned into an utter, utter defeat to the miners), it was adopted by unions and union movements for years, still is used.

    Unfortunately, it's also been adopted by Australian neo-nazis, skinheads, anti-immigrationists, and other unsavoury far-righties that wouldn't look out of place in Russel Crowe's Romper Stomper.

    So this is not the first time that such a flag with such resonance has been adopted and supplanted by the opposite side of politics. At least yours has been adopted by a semi-relevant political party (apologies to leftists, but the Tea Party, as far as I can tell, are not looking to exterminate an entire race of people)

    Link to the Eureka flag:


    Original flag that flew over the Bakery Hill battlefield:


    A left-oriented use:


    I can't find a right-wing example, I'm sorry.

    Oh, and to keep it football-like, Melbourne Victory fans often use it as well (and defend it vehemently ;):


  10. I'm a conservative who loves the symbol, but opposes the Tea Party's use of it, just because it shouldn't belong to us (I also only found this site cuz I love the soccer logo; if Nike didn't own it, I'd want the USSF to adopt it as their logo).

    But seriously people, quit with the attacks about us being bigoted; its the worst insult you could throw at a person in this day and age, and you're throwing it at millions of people simple becsuse of political disagreement. Its pathetic.

  11. The Gadsden flag according to the founding fathers was intended for freedom for all men, in the fear of God. The fear of God means to not murder the innocent but defend yourself against murderers and the racist mind set did murder.The definition was corrupted by communist influence in order to disrupt harmony in the great experiment of new American government which would be like "A Shining City on a hill" according to God's will. It is not being misused by tea party.

  12. American conservatism was founded on Judeo Christian values or the bible. I don't see how individuals that don't believe in the word of God call themselves conservatives.

  13. super pissed that this never became the official usmnt logo. nike should donate it