Daily Archives: March 29, 2013

Is the Gadsden flag too hot to handle?

The city of New Rochelle, NY has confiscated a Gadsden flag that flew outside a local armory due to “unspecified complaints” to the city manager and a request by the city council.  This happened just after the city manager told a group of veterans the flag could remain in place.  The situation is reminiscent of last year’s brouhaha over the Gadsden flags at Gettysburg.

As many commentators have pointed out, the Confederate battle flag is a symbol with multiple meanings because of the various groups that have appropriated it over the years.  Depending on the context, it can stand the Confederacy, the South in general, rebelliousness, racism, segregation, or the “redneck” stereotype.  If you’re going to display the CBF, you have to keep this multiplicity of meanings in mind; the meaning you intend to convey might not be the same one understood by the people who exposed to it.

In the case of the Gadsden flag, though, I think the case is a little different.  The Tea Party adopted the Gadsden flag, but unlike the CBF, the Gadsden flag hasn’t been stewing in its more modern political connotations for decades.  It remains primarily a symbol of the Revolution and America’s commitment to liberty and self-defense, and for that reason I don’t see anything wrong with flying it outside an armory.  But that’s just my opinion.

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Filed under American Revolution, History and Memory