On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of students walked out of school to demand gun control, marking the one month anniversary since the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Among those protesters, one young woman fit the definition of irony. While protesting gun violence with a sign attacking the National Rifle Association (NRA), she also wore a hoodie with a famous motto from the ancient Greeks popular among gun rights activists.
The young lady held a sign reading, “NRA there is blood on your hands,” a rather run-of-the-mill message for the national walkout. Her hoodie fully contradicted her anti-gun message, however.
The hoodie read, “Spartans. 480 B.C. ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ.”
MGS Firearms, a gun store in Menomonee Falls, Wisc., posted the image with the caption, “Nothing quite as ironic as calling for gun control while wearing a Molon Labe hoodie.”
Nothing quite as ironic as calling for gun control while wearing a Molon Labe hoodie.
The final phrase on the hoodie, “Molon Labe,” is a historical reference to the defiant response King Leonidas I of Sparta gave to Emperor Xerxes I of Persia when Xerxes demanded the Greeks lay down their arms and surrender. The phrase translates to “Come and take them.”
Leonidas reportedly said this right before the Battle of Thermopylae, which took place in 480 B.C. The Spartans led a coalition of Greeks who held out against the Persians for three days of heavy fighting. While the Greeks lost, they slowed the approach of the Persian army, allowing the Greeks to later defeat the Persians in the sea Battle of Salamis and the land Battle of Plataea.
The 2006 film “300” commemorated this heroic last stand, but the phrase “Molon Labe” became a rallying cry for champions of gun rights long before the film’s debut. The phrase expresses a citizen’s defiance over handing over his firearms to the state.
“Come and take it” also has historical resonance in American history. In November 1778, during the Revolutionary War, British soldiers attempted to take Fort Morris in Sansbury, Georgia. When the British commander demanded Colonel John McIntosh surrender the fort, the American colonel declared, “As to surrendering the fort, receive this laconic reply: COME AND TAKE IT!” The British declined to attack, and McIntosh’s defiance inspired the patriots during the war.
In October 1835, Texans used a small swivel cannon to resist the Mexican forces in the Battle of Gonzales, the first battle in the Texas Revolution. The Mexican government had originally provided the cannon in 1831, but when they asked the Texans to send it back, the rebels sent a flag instead. The flag had the phrase “come and take it,” along with a black star and an image of the cannon. The Mexican army fought to take the cannon, and the Texans prevented them from doing so.
Replicas of the flag are displayed throughout Texas, including at the Texas State Capitol, the Sam Houston State University, and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.
To be fair, the woman wearing the hoodie likely had little or no idea her sweater featured a pro-gun slogan. After all, there are 17 high schools and colleges across the United States with Spartans as their mascot, including St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York, Broad Run High School in Virginia, Michigan State University, the University of Tampa in Florida, and Castleton State College in Vermont.
The photo of an anti-gun protester wearing a pro-gun slogan on her hoodie will likely make the rounds on the Internet, ostensibly as evidence that this gun control protester had no idea what she was talking about. As hilarious as the photo is, this alone is not proof that her cause is questionable. All the same, it’s worth a good laugh.