It’s no secret the second favorite flag for Tea Partiers to co-opt and wave around is the Gadsden flag, the first is of course the Confederate flag but we’ll leave that one alone for now. The history of the Gadsden flag dates back hundreds of years in our country. In 1751 Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette printed a rather aggrieved article lamenting the British sending convicts to America. The author of the article asserted that colonists should send a box of rattlesnakes over to Britain by way of thanking them. Three years after, the same publication printed a cartoon of a broken rattlesnake to remind the delegates of the importance of being unified. The different sections of the snake were labeled with a different colony with the caption “Join or Die” beneath. Many publications printed this cartoon.
During the American Revolutionary War Colonel Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina saw a bright yellow banner with a coiled up rattlesnake decorating it. He favored the design and made a copy flag to submit the design to the Provincial Congress in South Carolina. The flag itself has been symbolic of American virtues; don’t step on the rattlesnake and the rattlesnake won’t strike back. Many now despise the sight of the flag as it has been besmirched by the Tea Party and the corporate interests their founders and financial backers serve. The *NEW* Tea Party, NOT the Boston Tea Party.
But irony of ironies is that some species of the rattlesnake are endangered. Now one would think that the Tea Party might rush to defend and preserve something they cling to in an order to symbolize their party, right? Wrong. Tea Party legislators voted to nullify the Endangered Species Act in Montana in 2011. And Tea Partiers regularly rail against the ESA citing that it’s an assault on our rights as Americans and our basic freedoms. Because it’s not as if we share this earth with any of the species protected under the ESA or anything like that. Of course we didn’t really have any basic rights to this country when we came here and it was already occupied and that didn’t stop us then.
So Tea Party, do us a favor, stop using the Gadsden flag. It makes you all look like a bunch of hypocrites.