Gadsden and Bureaucratic Tyranny

There's a great quote that often pops into my mind.  A fanatic is someone who redoubles his effort when he had forgotten his aim.  By that definition, our government is run by fanatics.  It's full of people who are off redoubling their efforts to accomplish something that really isn't part of their goal.  This usually happens after they actually achieved their initial task.  

For example, the EPA's job was to clean up our air and water.  Well done.  Mission accomplished.  Our air and water are cleaner today than they have been at anytime in our lives.  So, they have now redoubled their efforts and are trying to prevent climate change.  That's fanaticism.  

Or, how about this.  The EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is supposed to prevent racism and sexism in the workplace.  Well done.  Mission accomplished.  The offices and factories in America are now more egalitarian than at anytime in the world's history.  But, you see, bureaucrats and fanatics alike can't stop.  Ever.  They have to keep going.  So, now, in addition to preventing and rectifying actual racism in the work place, the EEOC is trying to redefine the history to America itself.  That's not their job, by why let that stop us?

This whole thing started in Denver, Colorado in 2013.  An employee of the Postal Service there complained to his bosses, about another employee's fashion sense.  A coworker wore a hat to work.  It was a yellow hat with a snake on it and the words, "Don't Tread on Me."  Now, those of you who know your American history may recognize that as the Gadsden Flag.  Don't tread on me.  It's a statement against tyranny.  Don't tread on me.  Well, the postal worker thought the symbol was racist and demanded that the other man not be allowed to wear it.  The administration at that post office promised to talk to the offending party.  Now, can you imagine how that conversation went?  "Um, yeah, if you could let me tread on your rights to free speech, that'd be great, ok.  Thanks."

Well, obviously the guy wearing the Don't Tread on Me hat didn't stop wearing the Don't Tread on Me hat.  It kind of goes against the message of that hat if you let people tell you what you can and cannot wear on your own head.  So, on January 8, 2014, the first employee, the one who clearly didn't understand the history of that symbol, filed an official complaint, claiming a "hostile work environment."  On January 29, the Postal Service dismissed the claim, stating, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Are you mental?  Seriously, dude."  Again, I'm paraphrasing.  However, the actual statement did include the phrase, "ignorance of history."  

So, the worker who was ignorant of history did the logical thing for an offended government employee.  He appealed.  In June of 2014, the EEOC told the Post Office you can't just dismiss this case.  Go back and investigate this claim further.  The Post Office did what you would expect and appealed the ruling from the first appeal, saying we don't wanna because it's not racist, and ignorance of history, and you're wasting our time, and we have mail to deliver.  The EEOC reviewed that request and in July of this year, denied it and sent it back to the post office.

Ok, so let's look at the history of the Gadsden Flag.  I don't want anyone to say you are ignorant of history.  The symbol of a snake was first used to represent the American Colonies during the French and Indian war.  It was done in a wood carving by Benjamin Franklin and is seen as the first political cartoon in American History.  His snake was cut up into several pieces.  Each piece was labeled for a colony, with the head labeled as New England, combining several colonies.  The caption was "Unite or Die."  

In 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the building of the Colonial Navy to intercept a shipment of ammunition and supplies from England.  One of the representatives in the Continental Congress was Christopher Gadsden from South Carolina.  He made a flag.  It had a yellow background with a coiled rattlesnake on it and the words, "Don't Tread on Me."  That's why it's called the Gadsden Flag.  He then gave it to the new Commander-in-Chief of the newly formed Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins who flew the flag on his ship as it raided those British supplies.  

The flag is older than the Stars and Stripes.  It wasn't about slavery, it was a statement against tyranny.  America would not be ruled by Britain anymore.  Don't tread on me.  It was a warning that if you attempt to trample on our liberties, we will bite back with a deadly strike.  That's it.  That's what it meant and that's what it still means.

In the EEOC's order, they acknowledge that, 1) the flag originated in the Revolutionary war in a non-racial context, 2) it's slogan is used in non-racial ways, 3) that while it has been associated with the modern TEA Party movement, the TEA Party isn't  racist, 4) the flag has been used by the US military.  Still, they say, maybe it's racist.  Why? Because in 2014, two white supremacists killed two cops in Las Vegas and then draped their bodies with the Gadsden Flag.  Also in 2014, black fire fighters in New Haven Connecticut said the flag was racist.  So, the logic here is that even though the flag wasn't designed to be used in a racist way, doesn't say anything remotely racist and prior to 2014 has no alleged use by racists for racist purposes that it might be racist because two separate groups in two separate states are ignorant of the historical purpose of the flag.  The flag might be racist, because some people are ignorant.  The EEOC is saying that someone else's ignorance can redefine the meaning of historic patriotic symbolism.  

There are so many things that are wrong with what's going on here, that it's really hard for me to break this down.  It's like ironic stupidity overload.

Let's start with the timing.  The employee who filed the complaint first did so in 2013.  The two instances where the EEOC said the Gadsden flag was used in racial ways occurred in 2014, after this employee first became offended.  So, before he actually complained about it, the EEOC cannot point to any racial use of the flag that was so racially offensive.  That's stupid.  

Secondly, this started in 2013.  It's now 2016.  We've spent almost three years paying government workers to deal with this issue which should have been dealt with in about five minutes.  "You think the Gadsden is racist?  It's not.  One word.  Wikipedia.  Look it up.  Now get back to work and stop looking for ways to become offended.  You'll ruin your life living that way.  Stop it."  Done.  That's how it should have been handled.  Instead, we've got teams of lawyers spending taxpayer money arguing over this made up racial slight.  That's stupid.  

Third, the EEOC is now making the Post Office research whether there is any bureaucratic reason to suspend a person's right to free speech against tyranny.  They are actually trying to silence a protest against tyranny with bureaucracy, which is a form of tyranny in and of itself.  That's stupid.

Fourth, the EEOC seems to think that whether a message is racist or not doesn't depend upon the intent of the person sending the message but on how a person who is not the target of that message interprets it.  The Gadsden flag is a message to Tyrants.  The worker, who I presume isn't a tyrant because he worked in the vehicle maintenance department for the Denver Post office, got offended because he misinterpreted the message on the hat.  Are we now responsible for how people misinterpret out messages, not because of anything we did wrong, but because they are ignorant?  That's an absolutely unreasonable standard for anyone to have to live up to.  Frankly, that's stupid.  

Fifth, this whole episode simply encourages workers to feel like they have a right to be offended by anything they want regardless of whether or not that offensive has any basis in fact or truth.  Coddling butt-hurt bureaucrats is stupid.

I want to leave you with two quotes.  The first is from Aristotle.  

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

The second quote is from noted psychiatrist, Carl Jung.    

You are what you do, not what you say you do.

I bring these two quotes up because I really am trying not to call people names.  I do believe that President Obama was correct when he said we have to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable.  So I don't want to call people I disagree with names.  It's not productive.  But, then I read Aristotle and Jung, two brilliant minds who said centuries apart, "you are what you do."  You are what you do.  If you are repeatedly doing stupid things, then what does that make you?  

Our government is repeatedly doing stupid things.  This is one example.  No wonder people are wanting to wear hats that say, don't tread on me.  We don't want to be ruled by fanatical, tyrannical bureaucrats.  We especially don't want to be ruled by stupid ones.