Actor Chris Pratt was spotted wearing an American flag T-shirt, kickstarting yet another controversy about American flags and racism.
Vulture writer Hunter Harris on Monday posted a photo of Pratt walking the streets of Los Angeles with his new wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger. Hunter zoomed in on the actor’s black shirt, which was emblazoned with a coiled snake over an American flag. Beneath the flag appeared the words, “Don’t Tread on Me.”
The slogan-snake combo can be traced back to the “Gadsden flag,” which was created by American colonists to rally opposition to British rule ahead of the Revolutionary War. These days, it appears on the U.S. naval jack and on at least seven state license plates. Libertarian groups, U.S. Men’s Soccer and Metallica have also made use of the symbol.
Chris Pratt triggers T-shirt watchers
Still, some have claimed that the Gadsden flag is associated with racism. And a number of Twitter users reacted with outrage to the photo of Pratt. As Yahoo News reported Tuesday, the general sentiment was that his T-shirt proves once and for all that the actor is a secret a bigot.
Mike P. Williams, a blogger and Yahoo News contributor, said that he had been waiting for an excuse to “cancel” Pratt.
In the bin you go, Chris Pratt. I've had a space reserved for the worst Chris since 2015 anyway https://t.co/QAlGCXRFu2
— Mike P Williams (@Mike_P_Williams) July 17, 2019
Another commenter declared that actress Ellen Page had been right all along.
ellen page called him out and some of y'all didn't listen now look at this shit https://t.co/hX01z3ifF8
— uss butterscotch | st3 spoilers (@reyvillanelle) July 16, 2019
In February, Page complained on Twitter that Pratt’s Hillsong Church “is infamously anti lgbtq.” Pratt responded in an Instagram post that “nothing could be further from the truth. I go to a church that opens their doors to absolutely everyone.”
Pratt, the star of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, has repeatedly faced criticism for his alleged lack of wokeness. Last December, TV Guide alerted readers to his “problematic aspects of his offscreen life.”
“When you take a deeper look at Pratt the man and not necessarily Pratt the actor, some of the shine wears off,” averred senior editor Kaitlin Thomas. “Although he can be as funny offscreen as he is on — his recurring ‘What’s My Snack’ videos on Instagram are almost always delightful — it’s impossible to ignore some problematic aspects of his life offscreen.”
The article went on to essentially point out that Pratt is a white Christian man who likes hunting.
Long annoyed by the media and elite culture’s treatment of Pratt, conservatives reacted with scorn to the latest outrage.
You got to be kidding. @prattprattpratt is an all around good guy, and these morons want to make him out to be a white nationalist?
— Pradheep J. Shanker (@Neoavatara) July 17, 2019
Actress and social media influencer Mindy Robinson aimed her fire at Yahoo News. She accused the outlet of hating Pratt “because he is a Christian and a patriot,” adding, “Go f_ck yourself.”
Dear @YahooEnt “News”
Your article on Chris Pratt wearing a “white supremacist” shirt is complete leftist bullsh*t.
It’s a pro-2A shirt, which is one of our constitutional rights. You hate him because he is Christian and a patriot. Go f_ck yourself.https://t.co/MPjthezZ8u
— Mindy Robinson 🇺🇸 (@iheartmindy) July 17, 2019
Commentator Jonah Golberg similarly faulted Yahoo News for writing “this trash.”
But blogger Steve Sailer suggested the article captured a real phenomenon on the social justice left.
Nah, actually, Americans are now getting pretty well trained at sniffing out flagrant Straight White Men like movie star Chris Pratt, the way the Soviet public got trained at sniffing out and reporting to the authorities left and right deviationists in the 1930s. https://t.co/I9l3jgTfa3
— Steve Sailer (@Steve_Sailer) July 17, 2019
Yahoo News has a history of somewhat tendentious coverage of the online culture wars. Last week, it published a dubious “expose” about how House Republicans had supposedly darkened Colin Kaepernick’s skin a photo sent out in a fundraising email.
A history of hating hate
The Gadsden flag, of course, is not the only American flag to have been deemed racist of late.
Earlier this month, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick helped convince Nike to nix the planned rollout of a Fourth of July-themed sneaker that featured another American Revolutionary flag. According to the Wall Street Journal, Kaepernick complained to the company, for which he is an endorser, that the 13-starred “Betsy Ross flag” is offensive because of its supposed connection to slavery.
In 2016, Kaepernick began kneeling as the national anthem played at games to draw attention to systemic American racism. U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe picked up the protest this year during her team’s run to World Cup victory.
Meanwhile, some activists have declared the OK hand gesture off limits because of its trollish appropriation by alt-right figures.
The Anti-Defamation League initially rejected equating the “OK” symbol with white supremacy However, the organization has since updated a blog post on their site with a more expanded discussion of the issue. According to the anti-Semitism watchdog, only “if the gesture occurs in context with other clear indicators of white supremacy can one” conclude that “such a gesture is intending or exhibiting an association with white supremacy.”
The ADL noted “that the ‘OK’ gesture is a nearly universal hand gesture and most usage of it is completely innocuous.”
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