U.S. Soccer Should Ditch ‘Don’t Tread On Me’

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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  • Drewsef

    With all due respect, this seems to be taking things well beyond the limits of reason. For a few reasons:

    1. While the Tea Party are an ugly, stupid, backwards group with what I agree are awful ideas about how this country should be run, comparing them to the Nazis is borderline insane. Even the worst and most extreme of the Tea Partiers can’t hold a candle to an average Nazi — the simple fact that Tea Partiers don’t, you know, advocate genocide or mass murder makes this a pretty easy call.

    2. The Gadsden flag has not become irrevocably linked with the Tea Party. I was definitely aware that they used it in rallies and said things like “don’t tread on me,” but to my knowledge, this is not even their primary symbol or primary slogan. It certainly has attained nothing even close to the universality with which the Nazis used the swastika, and I would guess that the average person still associates the flag/slogan with the Revolutionary War far more than with the Tea Party. (For comparison, back in the ’80s racist British skinheads and football fans used to wear and wave the Union Jack all the time. Would you argue that the British national team should ditch the flag just because a hateful fringe group once used it?)

    3. While in most peoples’ minds the swastika has been forever corrupted by the way the Nazis co-opted it, I don’t know if you’ve been to a Buddhist temple recently, but quite a lot of them still use the symbol anyway. (You’ll see it on tons of Buddha statues — facing the right direction, of course.) Whether you agree with this or not, the idea is sound: just because some psychopath once decided to pervert this symbol doesn’t mean that it’s forever lost and should be abandoned by the people who know what it really means.

    But really, item No. 1 is the most important. To make a Nazi comparison for a situation like this feels hysterical and outlandishly disproportionate.

    • Patrick

      I agree with your points in general, though characterization of the Tea Party in such a way indicates you’ve never actually been to a Tea Party event. Most of the people are normal, just like most of the people at Occupy rallies are normal. The media tends to focus on the nuts because it makes a better 30 second video clip.

  • Anthony

    I guess i’m the only one that thought ” I wonder what Zeb Colter (WWE) thinks about this?” He could mention this in one of his promo’s about how people are becoming bandwagoner’s ( i think that’s how you spell it but i could be wrong) and stealing his “patriotism” even though he is managing a foreigner. Oh and thumbs up for Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, and CM Punk as well as other great and talented superstars. One more thing: i honestly do not think he gives a crap but whatever. :)

  • Anthony

    The US soccer team should abondon the Gadsden flag because it does not make sense to bring politics into a soccer game so to speak.

    • Patrick

      Pretty sure the Gadsden is adopted by SUPPORTERS, not the team.

  • brian mann

    What a bunch of left wing nuts. The Gadsen flag is an American icon, get over it.

  • Patrick

    The Nazis also used Celtic runes, the wolfsangel, the sun cross, an eagle, the celtic cross, and the maltese cross. The Soviet Union used a star, in addition the to the hammer and sickle. Gaddafi used an eagle. These things are only corrupted and owned by maniacal leaders and movements if we allow them to be. As another comment pointed out, the swastika is still used for its original meaning in Asian cultures.

    Further, your characterization of the Tea Party is just as divisive as you claim their own actual ideology to be. You say the promote corporate fascism (they don’t, but clearly you think they do) and yet the right characterizes the Occupy movement as a socialist movement (which it isn’t). You’re viewing it from one side of the political spectrum, tipping your own political ideology in the process, while ignoring that people from the other side do the same thing to the opposing ideology (ie, vilify it).

    Most soccer fans don’t much care if the Tea Party uses Gadsden imagery. It’s a symbol of defiance against those that would disrespect us, and run roughshod over us. It’s a perfect symbol for the US soccer team. And the soccer fans used it before the Tea Party existed. So tell the Tea Party to switch.

    • Benjamin Williams

      Agreed. Forget all the Tea Party crap. I don’t care that they use it and I don’t care who you voted for. It honestly annoys me that they are using it because I have it on the bag window of my car right next to the US soccer shield and across from the US soccer DTOM sticker. I don’t want there to be any confusion especially since I live in the south. Anyways, the rattlesnake was first thought of by Benjamin Franklin because it’s a perfect analogy for what America was. At first glance, to the British, we didn’t look like much. But don’t be fooled by the fact that we are small and you cannot see our fangs. Step on us (or tread on us) and you’ll find out quickly that you shouldn’t have trifled with us. While we may be a world power as a country now, as a soccer team we are not. We are overlooked and mocked worldwide. That’s why the concept of the Gadsden Flag is PERFECT for the US soccer team. Don’t underestimate us. It’s both a tie to the proud history of our rebellion against tyranny and the fight to gain prominence as a world power on the soccer field. So bugger off with your overly sensitive opinions. It’s about patriotic support of our country on the field, not political ideology ya boob.

  • Anthony

    @Patrick I understand that the flag was brought in by supporters and NOT the team itself but the team could advise them not bring the flags when they play. But that is just my opinion.

  • Dick Beninya

    Josh, you beta-male sissy. Gadsen flag is an AMERICAN icon. Get over your petty obsessions and grow a pair. You remind me of that lesbiman Chris Hayes on MSNBC. A total pantywaist.
    DONT TREAD ON ME.

  • SilenceLikeaCancerGrows

    DIVISIVE?!?!?! what a moron. You obviously dont know anything about the Tea Party.

  • Gabor Gary Szabo

    You’re a dumbass Josh Marks, go fuck yourself, the Gadsden flag is awesome keep your opinions to yourself bitch!

  • Josh Tisch

    Dear Josh Marks, you have no clue what you are talking about. The Gadsden flag is a piece of our history, and if anything we should continue to use it to further disassociate it with a divisive political cause (although I think you are vastly overstating how divisive the basic tenants of the Tea Party actually are). All sides of a political debate will sport the stars and stripes to their rallies, should we abandon that as well?

  • baws

    the gadsen flag is to me a symbol not of America, or of patriotism, but of what underdogs can do when they put their minds to it. No better symbol for U.S. Soccer. The Tea party hasn’t been around for a decade and won’t live out the next one. The Gadsen flag has been around for a bit longer.

  • amigocesar

    Godwin’s law

  • EY

    What a SINGLE – MINDED imbecile. you want us to get rid of the logo that is being used to represent our AMERICAN team because it is associated with the tea party? the tea party is as AMERICAN as you can get. If you want socialism, move to France. it will take much more than 8 years of Obama to demoralize true patriotic AMERICANS. how in the world did this guy get a column? Oh, that’s right! its the internet. any moron can have a column these days. No matter how unamerican you are, you are allowed to voice any idiotic idea you want. Thanks to true patriots, much like the members of the tea party that you have been brain washed to despise. get a clue David Richards. do your own research and stop being a puppet and listening to the garbage and lies that the main stream are feeding you.