The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) President Taylor Eighmy recently announced that the university would no longer use the phrase “Come and Take It” in any official capacity.
Why? Eighmy wrote that he made this decision because “the phrase has become increasingly affiliated with cultural and political issues beyond its traditional historical context.”
Though he largely dances around the issue at hand and refuses to name any specific groups that use it, the phrase itself is largely synonymous with standing up to overbearing authority and oppressive forces. Though popular among many Second Amendment supporters, a search shows its use is not limited to any specific political outlook or cause—this is a concession Eighmy is forced to make in his letter.
As for UTSA’s use of the phrase, it was initially suggested for use in 2011, and the school’s football team began formally using it in 2016, when then-head coach Frank Wilson introduced it as a new tradition for the Roadrunners. With this tradition also came a flag, featuring the UTSA mascot along with the phrase.
“Traditions at athletics events are essential to the fan experience,” UTSA Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey said at the time. “The ‘Come and Take It’ flag has already been adopted by our fans and this new tradition will help elevate our home field advantage entering the fourth quarter. It’s a show of support by our fans that we’re not backing down. We’re very excited to see this take off.”
A few years later, a former UTSA professor started a petition to have the phrase removed, claiming that the phrase is “steeped in racist ideology and racist history,” according to local media. That petition, which garnered fewer than 1,000 signatures, referenced the Battle of Gonzales, which took place not too far from where UTSA is located and was the advent of the Texas revolution.
In 1835, Mexican forces dispatched 100 troops to the small town of Gonzales, Texas, to confiscate a small cannon originally given to the townsfolk by Mexico to help defend against raiding forces. In response, the townspeople said, “Come and take it,” via a flag with an image of a cannon and the phrase. The Mexican forces were later forced to retreat to San Antonio, and this event kick started the Texas revolution.
Of course, the phrase actually long predates the Battle of Gonzales; it goes all the way back to the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., when the Spartan King Leonidas rebuked Xerxes and the much-larger force of the Persian Empire after Xerxes demanded the Spartans surrender their weapons.
So despite the phrase’s obvious history as a rallying cry of standing up to tyranny and oppression, the school nonetheless decided that it must go to appease…what?
“This is a ridiculous and unconvincing copout, as similar things could be said about virtually any common symbol, image or phrase, including the American flag itself,” wrote the NRA Institute for Legislative Action after the decision.