Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World star Chris Pratt has been photographed wearing controversial ‘pro-American’ t-shirt while on the streets of Los Angeles.
In paparazzi pictures, Pratt is seen with his wife Katherine Schwarzenegger, wearing a dark print t-shirt featuring the words ‘Don’t tread on me’ as well as a rattlesnake and the US flag.
Twitter has been quick to criticize and ‘cancel’ the 40-year-old after he was spotted wearing the garment.
The item has generated some controversy due to it being a version of the much-disputed Gadsden flag, which has come to be associated with many connotations since its creation in the 1700s.
Pratt is a known conservative, gun-enthusiast and keen hunter, whose political views have come under scrutiny in the past.
During a 2017 interview to promote the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Pratt revealed that he doesn’t feel represented by either side of the political divide in the US right now.
He told People:
I really feel there’s common ground out there that’s missed because we focus on the things that separate us.
You’re either the red state or the blue state, the left or the right.
Not everything is politics. And maybe that’s something I’d want to help bridge, because I don’t feel represented by either side.
With this in mind, it might not come as a surprise that Pratt is willing to wear such a piece of clothing in public but allow us to enlighten you on a short history of the Gadsden flag.
The flag was first designed and created by American general and politician Christopher Gadsden in 1775, with the intention of it being used as a logo and rallying cry by Continental Marines against the British during the conflict, which ultimately resulted in the US winning its independence.
Since then the flag has had a contentious history. While many collectors have obtained versions of the flag and even flown it, as an artefact of America’s history, it has also attracted a more unsavoury crowd who have used it to promote extreme political and racial views.
It’s most common association in modern times is with the Tea Party organisation, Ku Klux Klan and Second Amendment enthusiasts.
The Tea Party in particular, which became much more active after 9/11, by promoting an anti-government agenda, officially adopted the flag as their symbol in 2009
White nationalist have also used the flag for their activities, most notably in 2014 where a pair of white police officers were murdered in Las Vegas by a couple that draped their dead bodies in Gadsden flag and Swastika.
Also in 2014, a black maintenance mechanic for the US postal service in Denver, Colorado, registered a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after a colleague repeatedly wore a cap featuring the insignia.
However, not all of its associations are necessarily associated with racism or controversial politics.
Some Libertarian groups, who value individual rights and favour a more minimal approach to the government, have adopted the flag as representing their ideology.
The symbol has also been used by the US men’s soccer team, as well as appearing in TV, video games and music, with Metallica most infamously using the snake image on the cover of the 1991 self-titled album, which also featured a song called ‘Don’t Tread on Me’.
Speaking to the New Yorker, flag expert John M. Hartvigsen agreed that the flag can communicate the wrong “political sentiment” but also that “symbols are emotion-charged” and that “Flags very much have the meaning of the individual who is displaying it, or seeing it.”