What Is That Snake? – I’ve Seen It Before

A couple of times now, I have been asked what exactly does the Gadsden Flag mean (the yellow flag with the Diamond-back Rattlesnake and the words ‘Dont Tread On me’ on it).  You notice that part of the flag is the banner to my page.  I will try to explain in my own words what this flag stands for and then debunk a couple of myths/misnomers just before I give you the link to the Wikipedia site.

This flag says it all for my bed-rock belief of small government and its limited role or use in my life.  Benjamin Franklin first used the Rattlesnake in some political cartoons and then as a metaphor for the United States.   He basically said America is like this snake – unique in its environment; it is fiercely independent yet peaceful by nature.  However, it is no pushover and has the means to defend itself and will warn before it strikes.  Once you do bother it though, this snake like the country it is found in will strike with a vengeance and not let up.   For me, the ‘don’t tread on me’ is the rattle put into words and clarifys the meaning of the flag.

Many libertarian and conservative leaning individuals or groups use this flag.  While I believe that the threat of violence is evoked when you use a rattlesnake, it is implied and seen as a method of last resort.  Going back to our founders, they thought that revolution (violence) was a natural part of maintaining freedom and deomocracy, but only saw it as a last resort when all other methods had been curtailed.  It is my opinion that when violent, militant, or separatist groups use this flag as their symbol, they are only getting half the picture and its the less important part.  They have disengaged from a still legitimate democratic process (its IS imperfect though) that was put in place by the US Constitution and still has merits.  They would like to think that we have gone over the brink and that violence in unavoidable.  I contend that is short-sighted, wrong, and utterly premature.  For example, the events of the 1860s and 1960s were much more trying times for democracy and this great nation; and we came out a better nation both times.  This flag standing for freedom from tyranny and being ever-vigilant of it is far more important and it is those ideals that helped get us through some of those lean years. 

Here is the link to the Wikipedia page. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadsden_flag

As always, any questions, comments, or anything else, please shoot me a response!

-G.S.

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