When I watched the assault on our beloved nation’s Capitol on television, Trump flags were not the only flags insurrections proudly waved. There were many other flags representing the disgusting views of far-right militia and white supremacists. One flag, in particular, caught my attention because I see it twice on my way to work from Harpswell to Cumberland: the Gadsden flag.

I go by two homes whose owners fly a yellow flag with the image of a rattlesnake and the words “Don’t Tread On Me.” Their appearance is relatively recent, but the flag itself is not.

The Revolutionary War-era Gadsden flag, created by Christopher Gadsden, a wealthy slave owner, may once have indicated one’s anti-British sentiment and love for liberty. Now it serves, according to those who investigate far-right militia groups, as a symbol for those who would see our democracy overthrown and its leaders assassinated.

Ordinary Americans, like our forefathers who would repel British tyranny, again need to be the first line of defense. However, instead of using violence, we need to ask our neighbors to take those flags down and get off the internet. And if necessary, we should inform the police to keep a watch on our neighbor, who has an ocean view but who also has accumulated enough grievances to root on those who would brutally beat a D.C. Metropolitan Police officer with a USA flagpole.

Gregory Greenleaf

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