Actor Chris Pratt raised the ire of some liberals this week with his choice of clothing, leading some in social media to accuse him of wearing a “white supremacist” inspired wardrobe.
The popular television and Marvel star was spotted wearing an American flag T-shirt with the phrase, “Don’t Tread on Me” along with a superimposed coiled rattlesnake across the design.
It turns out the T-shirt was created by the Brain Treatment Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress or brain injuries.
Adapted from one of America’s earliest flags first created by an American brigadier general named Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina in 1775, the iconic imagery and phrase originally became synonymous with independence from Great Britain. Of late, it’s become a symbol of patriotism and belief in personal liberties.
Yet to the scores of people who took to Twitter to criticize the actor, Pratt’s choice was racially insensitive, homophobic, transphobic and simply offensive.
In recent years, some politically conservative groups, from the Tea Party to Second Amendment advocates, have used versions of the “Gadsden Flag” to rally supporters and remind the general public that America was founded upon liberty and flourishes when government sees its role in supportive rather than supreme terms.
In modern-times, conservative groups aren’t alone in reprising or repurposing the Revolutionary War era symbolism. In addition to the Brain Treatment Association, USA Soccer has used the catchphrase, and ten states have even made the design available for license plates.
It’s always struck me as ironic that in an era of increasing cultural coarseness - from labels that leverage profanity to music and art that regularly tears down traditional mores – more and more of the so-called “progressive” crowd are so easily offended by so little.
It brings to mind the wry observation, “If it weren’t for low standards, they wouldn’t have any standard at all.”
The perennially predictable Hollywood hypocrisy is on full display. Why is it that some people freak out when Chris Pratt wears a historical and patriotic T-shirt – yet have no problem when others wear clearly controversial and vulgar designs?
Take for example Miley Cyrus, who once wore a Planned Parenthood button riddled with the “F” word. Or actress and singer-songwriter Lola Kirke who displayed a “F@$! Paul Ryan” message on her shirt at the Golden Globes. Katy Perry proudly displayed both pro-Planned Parenthood and Hillary Clinton messages during the Women’s March.
Not only didn’t liberals jeer – they cheered.
Apparently, those on the left are welcome to wear whatever they want – and in fact, some on the red carpet at award shows have been known to hardly wear anything at all – but conservatives are relegated to neutral, apolitical attire.
Setting aside the historical ignorance factor, re: the Revolutionary War origins of the flag, I’m honestly perplexed how a cotton T-shirt with Old Glory on it can so easily set somebody off to the point of them taking to social media to deride and demean someone they’ve never even personally met.
Sadly, social media these days seems akin to an addictive drug for some, especially the perpetually aggrieved and furious. Every day represents another opportunity to air a grievance, prattle on about the petty, criticize a stranger – and feign offense over a man’s choice of clothing.
But what really gets me is the fact that the liberals who are offended by Chris Pratt’s “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt should be embracing the sentiment behind it.
If we’re to believe what liberals say – that their goal of liberation is at the core of their liberal idealism – shouldn’t Chris Pratt be able to wear whatever he wants, no questions asked?
After all, liberals regularly tell us that nobody should be telling anybody what to do – and most especially, what to wear.
I guess that’s the case unless your name is Chris Pratt and you’re caught wearing a T-shirt that offends liberal sensibilities.
Or you’re Jaelene Hinkle of USA Soccer and you decline to wear a jersey that contradicts your deeply held religious beliefs.
Or your name is Baronelle Stutzman and you politely decline to create floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding, again because of your personal faith convictions.
The irony of ironies is that in the case of Chris Pratt, the offended are treading on his freedom of expression.
Unfortunately, the new orthodoxy seems to only cut one way. Likewise, tolerance is conditional and subject to cultural review. Conservatives are rarely afforded the courtesy of what liberals demand.
In the end, I don’t think Chris Pratt will be cowed by the criticism. Anybody who raises a cross on Easter Sunday in a field and goes online to help teach others how to do the same, isn’t somebody whose made of sugar candy.
And because liberals almost always overreact and overreach, I wouldn’t be surprised if you start seeing more “Don’t Tread on Me” flag T-shirts – helping to both celebrate American liberty – and help the brave and courageous injured veterans who have risked their lives in order to preserve the rights of both liberals and conservatives to wear the T-shirt of their choice.