Marissa A. Kristbergs, an 8th grade social studies teacher from Hamilton, has an OpEd piece in today's Asbury Park Press wherein she claims that Tea Partiers use of the "Don't Tread On Me" Gadsden Flag is "an abuse of our very sacrosanct independence as a nation."
Kristbergs gives an 8th grade level history lesson of the origins of the flag, which she says was originally a symbol of the colonies' unity against foreign tyranny, not, she says, a representation of the Constitution. She says the Tea Partiers, who stand for Constitutional government, are misusing the flag because the Constitution did not yet exist when the flag was created by Ben Franklin.
I'm not an history scholar. Neither is Kristbergs. She writes of the origins of the flag:
One day in Philadelphia, Franklin came across young American Marines being trained to seize shipments of British arms. He observed on one of the young drummer boy's drum a painting of a rattlesnake with the words "Don't Tread on Me."
Franklin soon printed an article anonymously debuting the symbol as an emblem for Americans battling British tyranny.
That might be true. Neither Kristbergs nor I were there. Neither was the author of the book where Kristbergs read about it, who then concluded what it meant.
My questions is, "What did the symbol mean to the drummer boy?" If there was a drummer boy.
Kristbergs' understanding of American history is elementary. She has no understanding of the current political environment that the Tea Parties are giving a voice.
The Tea Parties are more interested in making history than they are in the accurate historical usage of a symbol. Their use to the symbolic flag is to rally and empower individuals to assert their liberty, peacefully, against the domestic tyranny of a government that does not represent them and that is acting without regard to the Constitution.
Kristbergs says that the Gadsden flag was a symbol of our nation's independence against foreign tyranny. It may well have been.
Today the flag is a symbol of individuals committed to liberty against domestic tyranny. There is no abuse, defilement or mockery.
Ms. Kristbergs has joined the debate here at MMM. The APP used a facebook profile picture of Kristbergs in the print edition. I figured I'd do the same here.
Kristbergs says here in the comments that she does not brain wash her Hamiliton 8th graders. Here's what she has to say about teaching on her facebook page:
The beautiful thing about being a teacher is learning things about YOURSELF from your students.
She fits in nicely with the NJEA. It's all about her.