Why People Are Up in Arms Over Chris Pratt's Shirt

Kimberly Truong

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Chris Pratt is the subject of some criticism after stepping out in a controversial t-shirt that is said to have ties to far-right political groups.

Earlier this week, the actor was seen out and about with wife Katherine Schwarzenegger, wearing a t-shirt with an American flag and a rattlesnake emblazoned on it, sitting on top of the words "Don't Tread on Me."

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The symbol is known is the Gadsden flag, which was originally designed by Christopher Gadsden during the Revolutionary War to represent freedom from British rule. In more recent years, however, the flag and symbol has been adopted by the Tea Party and other far-right political groups, and has been used by some white supremacists. In 2014, two Las Vegas police officers were murdered and the killers covered their bodies with the flag. (The officers were white, but the shooters reportedly had ideology along the lines of "militia and white supremacy" and were presumably attempting to send that message with the flag.)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in 2016 that the flag could be viewed as racial harassment in the workplace, and noted that although it "originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context,” it is now “sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts."

After Pratt was spotted out in the shirt, some people began calling him out.

"Trash omg that f—king shirt," another user wrote.

Pratt has not publicly aligned himself with far-right political parties, nor is it clear whether he knew the potential implications of the shirt. Earlier this year, he was criticized by fellow actor Ellen Page for his involvement with Hillsong, a church with an anti-LGBTQ history.

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At the time, he responded, saying, "I go to a church that opens their doors to absolutely everyone."

"My faith is important to me but no church defines me or my life, and I am not a spokesman for any church or group of people," he said. "My values define who I am."