Tea party picked the wrong flag

dont tread on me

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill into law last week that provides special protected status for the tea party's "Don't Tread on Me" flag.

This emblem, wielded by tea party activists in their 2009 demonstrations against health reform and President Obama, will now enjoy the same special protections afforded the Arizona state flag and the U.S. flag.

Simply put, the tea party has chosen the wrong flag as its symbol, as this move in Arizona so aptly reveals.

It is also offensive. The yellow, snake-emblemed "don't tread on me" flag as borne by these protesters is something of an ironic con job.

As is well known, the flag's origins date from the Revolutionary War period, during which citizens of the British Empire* living in the colonies protested the fact that they could not select their own local members of Parliament. Thus the protest: "no taxation without representation."

The tea party, a far-right, corporate-financed set of organizations, has twisted the meaning of that flag. They have always had the right and the opportunity to select their representatives. Unfortunately, most of them have chosen to believe and repeat racist lies about the legitimacy of the Obama presidency. Some tea partiers have even suggested a return to colonial-style restrictions on voting rights to property holders.

Despite these historical distortions, the main point is they have chosen to hoist the wrong flag.

Tea partiers frantically waved that flag at rallies during which the likes of Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and resigned former Alaska governor Sarah Palin spewed lies about health reform and the president.

Meanwhile, working-class Americans from diverse backgrounds from Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio carried the "stars and stripes" during their protests against real disfranchisement and real attacks on their basic rights to organize unions and collective bargaining - their basic rights to jointly represent themselves in the workplace.

While the owners of Koch Industries corrupted the democratic process with millions of dollars poured into Republican Party and tea party coffers, steelworkers and teachers, university students and firefighters, longshore workers and electrical workers, librarians and cops, janitors and mothers, farmers and teamsters, members of the national guard and veterans, together marched behind the American flag in Madison, Wis., to protect the right to organize unions.

While tea party Gov. Jan Brewer wasted taxpayer dollars to use her time and political clout to create special protections for that ugly yellow flag that no American has died for, working-class men and women have carried "Old Glory" in their hearts from the beaches of Normandy and the bridges of Selma, Ala., to the state Capitols in Madison, Indianapolis, Lansing, and Columbus.

*Because non-whites, women and working-class people were excluded from voting rights, the representation issue in the Revolutionary War period only held real immediate meaning for property owners. Still, the demand symbolized a democratic upsurge against British imperialism, and would over the next two centuries through the struggles of the disenfranchised come to include more and more people.

Photo: (Creative Commons)



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  • You need to get your facts straight first, the flag gained modern popularity in 2008 at Ron Paul rallies. Then the flag was hijacked by what I'm personally ashamed of, but was a creation of the media; the tea party.
    Do you personally feel you are represented by your elected leaders? If so, how do you feel about federal laws affecting state's laws where the citizens of those states voted officials in, but their representation is not granted!
    We're both on the same team, it's the politicians pitting the left vs right against one another. Just my .02....

    Posted by RandPaul20166, 07/07/2013 8:05am (3 years ago)

  • Leave it to a Liberal to twist the facts about the Gadsden Flag and what the Tea Party Stands is about.

    The rattle snake was one of the first symbols of our republic. Ben Franklin sketched the snake cut into eight sections (representing eight of the states). This had nothing to do with independence from Britain. It was a plea for unity in defending the colonies during the French and Indian War.

    The snake symbol came in handy ten years later, when Americans were again uniting against a common enemy. The British decided that they needed more control over the colonies, and more importantly, they needed more money from the colonies. England, in 1765 the common enemy was the Stamp Act. The Crown was loaded with debt from the French and Indian War.

    The motto translates to "No one will provoke me with impunity."

    Wow…Sounds like the TEA PARTY!

    Many conservatives feel provoked and annoyed that the country is moving from its founding principles of small government.

    The Tenth Amendment explicitly states the Constitution's principle of federalism by providing that powers not granted to the federal government nor prohibited to the states by the Constitution are reserved, respectively, to the states or the people.
    Large unfettered government corrupts absolutely!

    A conservative point of view

    Posted by Rich, 05/18/2011 1:17pm (5 years ago)

  • "Some tea partiers have even suggested a return to colonial-style restrictions on voting rights to property holders."

    Do you mind giving a name to this straw man you've created? I've been to several rallies and have never heard such a thing. I don't own property, and I cherish my right to vote. This is ridiculous.

    Posted by Derek, 05/02/2011 11:45am (5 years ago)

  • In their defense, I truly believe that there are good, well meaning people involved with the Tea Party movement. One could say that they are part of a broader movement of American libertarianism.

    They are afraid of what is going on around them and they are looking for answers just like the rest of us "sheople".

    Unfortunately, some of the conclusions they come up with are misguided and uninformed. Some of this is certainly being fueled by hardcore neo cons and ultra right religious nuts.

    The left could take a few lessons on their mobilization and political action. The Tea Party has managed to pull in the rank and file from a variety of places within in our society in a short period of time.

    Yet, their message isn't entirely different than our own as leftists.

    We too want liberation from irresponsible governance and tyranical power.
    We on the left need to use that flag, but change the background to red ;)

    Posted by Mike Greer, 04/30/2011 2:55am (5 years ago)

  • Poor teabaggers- lost sheeple who don't realize they are owned and used by the money changers- and they can't spell when they draw their racist signs which they pretend aren't.

    Posted by hwatt, 04/28/2011 7:19pm (5 years ago)

  • tea party = racist bigots, poor hating, elderly hating Thugs........

    Posted by j, 04/28/2011 6:58pm (5 years ago)

  • The tea-Republicans in Michigan are trying to take away local government's elected officials and replace them with King/Dictators. This is taxation without representation, what the original Tea Party was allegedly protesting against.

    Posted by charles, 04/28/2011 2:57pm (5 years ago)

  • Interestingly the yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flag was originally the flag of the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Navy, Christopher Gadsden. In other words, it is the official rank flag for a government agent during the Continental Congress period.

    Posted by Dave Martucci, 04/27/2011 8:31am (5 years ago)

  • its the right flag.. your just an idiot.. much like the revolutionary war We the tea party patriots are fighting against taxation without representation.. we were, and arguably still are, not well represented in the government.. and although the overwhelming majority of the population of the US said NO we do not want socialized health care the government crammed it down our throats anyway..

    and as far as the Public Labor unions of Wi are concerned.. they are not representative of the population of Wisconsin (they only total 12%), and chose a socialist banner to represent them.. get your facts straight bud..

    i want to end this by saying that I am a Tea Party-er and detest the insinuation that because of that you think im racist.. Have a nice day!!!

    Posted by Chris Jacoby, 04/26/2011 9:58pm (5 years ago)

  • Oh behave, Joel. Go pick your own flag if you wish, but who the hell are you to tell the Tea partiers or anybody else what flag they can use? And another point, the one thing worse than being racist it to be falsely accused of racism. You can try to paint the entire party with that brush, but we are on to you and your stupid little games.

    Posted by Wayne, 04/26/2011 8:34pm (5 years ago)

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