The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

The Gadsden Flag May Be Racist….?

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is apparently considering whether the wear of the Gadsden Flag is “racially offensive.” The Gadsden Flag has long been part of the iconography of the American Revolution. Designed by American revolutionary general Christopher Gadsden, it has long been recognized as a symbol of defiance and was used by Continental Marines and other early U.S. military formations.

Now apparently it might be a symbol of racism…or so at least one person is complaining.

According to a number of sources, including the Washington Post, the Washington Times, Fox News, et al, a complaint was filed in 2014 by an employee of an unnamed company, claiming that a hat with the coiled rattlesnake and phrase “Don't Tread On Me” on the front was racially offensive. Why? Because Christopher Gadsden owned and traded in slaves.

Complainant maintains that the Gadsden Flag is a “historical indicator of white resentment against blacks stemming largely from the Tea Party.” He notes that the Vice President of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters cited the Gadsden Flag as the equivalent of the Confederate Battle Flag when he successfully had it removed from a New Haven, Connecticut fire department flagpole.

Apparently while they recognize the Gadsden Flag did not originate with a racial connotation, it may have developed one since then. To wit:

However, whatever the historic origins and meaning of the symbol, it also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts. For example, in June 2014, assailants with connections to white supremacist groups draped the bodies of two murdered police officers with the Gadsden flag during their Las Vegas, Nevada shooting spree. [Footnote: Shooters in Metro ambush that left five dead spoke of white supremacy and a desire to kill police, Las Vegas Review-Journal] Additionally, in 2014, African-American New Haven firefighters complained about the presence of the Gadsden flag in the workplace on the basis that the symbol was racially insensitive. [Paul Bass, Flag Sparks Fire Department Complaint, New Haven Independent] Certainly, Complainant ascribes racial connotations to the symbol based on observations that it is sometimes displayed in racially-tinged situations.

In fairness (without denying the whole thing is ludicrous), they're only saying they've decided to investigate, not that it is for sure a racially offensive emblem (or for that matter that it would be racially offensive to anyone other than the original complainant).

In light of the ambiguity in the current meaning of this symbol, we find that Complainant’s claim must be investigated to determine the specific context in which C1 displayed the symbol in the workplace.

It's hard not to revile this complainant and in fact the entire agency for this stupidity. I'd like to think they could dismiss it out of hand. Who knows, maybe there are regulations that prohibit or preclude common sense.

But yeah. We've come to this.

Enter Your E-Mail to Receieve a Free 50-Target Pack from RECOIL!

NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOIL

For years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included).

Get your pack of 50 Print-at-Home targets when you subscribe to the RECOIL email newsletter. We'll send you weekly updates on guns, gear, industry news, and special offers from leading manufacturers - your guide to the firearms lifestyle.

You want this. Trust Us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to the Free