U.S. Soccer Should Ditch 'Don't Tread On Me'

By Josh Marks
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The swastika is an ancient Hindu good luck symbol that was adopted by the Nazi Party of Germany and came to represent hatred and intolerance. Similarly, the Gadsden Flag — yellow in color with a  coiled snake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me” — was once associated with colonial American defiance against the British, but has been co-opted by the right-wing Tea Party of America as a political symbol and is now primarily associated with their divisive ideology.

Just as the German national soccer team would never think of incorporating the Swastika on their uniforms, the United States men’s national soccer team should abandon its current association with the Gadsden flag because of its current Tea Party affiliation.

The United States is a diverse nation with many types of people and political views. The national soccer team represents all 315 million citizens and should be a unifying force and never appear to favor one type of political ideology. Unfortunately, that is exactly what “Don’t Tread on Me” has become.

I was stunned to turn my replica U.S. men’s national soccer team jersey inside out to see sewn on the inside of the U.S. soccer emblem the initials D.T.O.M. with a coiled snake.

What’s even more insidious about the use of the Gadsden Flag imagery and words is that athletic apparel company Nike is behind the “patriotic campaign” for the U.S. men’s national soccer team. The reason being that many see the Tea Party as promoting a form of corporate fascism and the Nike association with the Gadsden Flag could be seen as fitting this description.

Just like the Nazis did with the Swastika, the Tea Party has ruined the Gadsden Flag and stripped it of its original meaning. Therefore, the United States men’s national soccer team should ditch “Don’t Tread On Me.”

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