A 200-year-old battle cry adopted by students at a San Antonio university has become the latest victim of ‘woke cancel culture’ after a professor said it perpetuated racist stereotypes against Mexicans and was used by pro-gun activists.
The University of Texas at San Antonio has banned the ‘Come and Take It’ chant from its college football games and other athletics events after a petition denouncing it garnered hundreds of signatures.
On social media, critics accused the university president of making a ‘spineless decision’ to ban the phrase.
The school’s president, Taylor Eighmy, sent an email to all students, faculty, and staff on Tuesday announcing that the school would no longer allow the phrase to be featured as a rallying cry on flags and banners.
At UTSA football games in San Antonio, a large ‘Come and Take It’ flag is traditionally unfurled in the student section at the start of the fourth quarter at around the same time that a cannon is fired.
The ban was announced last week, but photos from inside the Alamodome taken during Saturday’s 54-0 victory by UTSA over Lamar show fans waving the banner with the slogan emblazoned on it.
The phrase ‘Come and Take It’ was made popular beginning in 1835, when Texan colonists refused to give back a cannon that was left to them by the Mexican military in order to fend off attacks by Native Americans.
The University of Texas at San Antonio has banned the ‘Come and Take It’ chant from its college football games and other athletics events after a petition denouncing it garnered hundreds of signatures
UTSA students who attend the school’s college football games at the Alamodome in San Antonio have for years unfurled a large banner with the words ‘Come and Take It’ at the start of the fourth quarter
The phrase ‘Come and Take It’ has also been invoked by gun rights advocates. The image above shows a man waving a flag with the words ‘Come and Take It’ written on it during a protest in Los Angeles on August 14
A famous drawing depicts the colonists flanking the cannon and daring the Mexican forces to ‘come and take it’ – triggering the Battle of Gonzales, one of the main turning points of the Texas Revolution against Mexico.
Since then, the phrase has been emblazoned on flags and used to support Second Amendment rights which allow citizens to carry firearms.
In August, a UTSA professor, Ellen Riojas Clark, circulated an online petition arguing that the slogan and the flags and banners that bear it should be banned from school football games.
‘Referencing the infamous flag from the Battle of Gonzales, this is a slogan that embodies both anti-Mexican and pro-slavery sentiments,’ Clark writes in the petition.
In 1829, Mexico abolished slavery throughout its territories, which at the time included Texas. This led to tension with Texan colonists who were Anglo-American slaveholders.
On social media, critics accused the university president of making a ‘spineless decision’ to ban the phrase
After the Texas Revolution of 1836 and the defeat of Mexico, Texas became a republic and slavery there was legalized.
‘It has carried those white supremacist beliefs from 1835 to today, and in that time has also been widely adopted by anti-government, pro-gun extremists, such as at the January 6th insurrection at the US Capital,’ Clark writes in the petition.
‘Like the Alamo, the Gonzales flag is an open wound for many Mexican Americans, especially Mexican American Texans.’
Clark continues: ‘Though UTSA is officially a Hispanic-serving institution, it has been criticized on multiple occasions for its failures to truly serve the Mexican American majority population in which it is located.
‘We call for a public apology from UTSA President Taylor Eighmy and UTSA Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Lisa Campos, as well as the immediate removal of the “Come and Take It” sign.’
After the petition generated nearly 1,000 signatures, Eighmy announced that he was forming a ‘task force’ to look into the matter. Last week, he dissolved the task force and ordered the slogan banned from campus.
Others, on the other hand, agreed with the decision. Some joked that perhaps the slogan could be changed into something synonymous, like ‘approach and grasp it.’
‘After much research, consultation and deliberation, I am ending this rather young UTSA Athletics tradition at this time and will not be proceeding with the task force,’ Eighmy wrote.
‘The matter has become a distraction from our mission and is likely to continue shifting our focus away from our work yet to be accomplished,’ he continued.
‘I especially recognize that this decision will be unpopular with many of our loyal fans.
‘The phrase – as well intended as it was upon inception and adoption – has increasingly become incongruent with UTSA Athletics and our institution’s mission and core values.’
UTSA will also remove the phrase from its ‘digital environment’ as well as ‘licensed merchandise,’ according to the school president.
The school will also implement a new fourth quarter tradition to replace the unfurling of the ‘Come and Take It’ banner.
On social media, critics lamented ‘woke cancel culture’ gone amok. Others, on the other hand, agreed with the decision.
One Twitter user called it a ‘spineless decision.’
Others joked that perhaps the slogan could be changed into something synonymous, like ‘approach and grasp it.’
From the Greek-Persian Wars to the American and Texas Revolutions: ‘Come and Take It’ has become a popular battle cry
The image above shows the Alamo in San Antonio, a symbol of resistance by the Texan colonists who died in battle during the Texas Revolution of 1836, leading to the creation of the Republic of Texas
The term ‘Come and Take It’ was first used in recorded history by King Leonidas I of Sparta, who led an alliance of Greek city-states against the Persian army in the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.
Leonidas’ forces dared the Persians to take his army’s weapons, taunting them with the phrase ‘Molon labe’ – or ‘come and take them’ in Classical Greek.
In 1778, ‘Come and Take It’ was also used in the American Revolution, when Colonel John McIntosh dared British forces to get his army’s weapons during battle at Fort Morris in Georgia.
The fort fell to the British, but the defeat did motivate thousands to enlist in the revolution.
In late September 1835, Colonel Ugartechea, the commander of the Mexican garrison at San Antonio, sent a few men to Gonzales to recover a cannon that had been loaned to the town a few years earlier to fight off occasional Indian attacks.
The citizens of Gonzales realized that the intent of the move was to disarm possible rebels, and so the request was denied.
Ugartechea then sent dragoons under Captain Francisco Castaneda to demand the cannon unconditionally.
‘Come and Take It’ was a rallying cry that triggered the Battle of Gonzales, one of the main turning points of the Texas Revolution. Two ladies of the town, Cynthia Burns and Evaline DeWitt, painted a flag on cotton cloth, depicting the cannon, the lone star of Texas and a clear challenge to the enemy – ‘Come and Take It’
As word of the conflict spread, the Texas force grew to over 200 armed men and the town was fortified.
The cannon was mounted on a wagon, and blacksmiths hammered iron scrap and chains into the cannonballs.
Two ladies of the town, Cynthia Burns and Evaline DeWitt, painted a flag on cotton cloth, depicting the cannon, the lone star of Texas and a clear challenge to the enemy – ‘Come and Take It.’
The Mexican troops moved north to ford the river and approach Gonzales.
The Texans decided that they had to attack before Mexican reinforcements arrived.
They crossed the river at dusk, formed their battle lines at night and surprised the Mexicans at dawn on October 2nd.
The battle that followed was brief. When the Texans opened fire, the Mexicans withdrew, abandoning their supplies.
Stephen F. Austin joined the army as commander on October 10th, and the other Texans, under the command of James Collingsworth, took Goliad the next day.
On October 12th, the march on San Antonio began in what was the first major campaign of the Texas Revolution.
Less than a year later, the Texan colonists would defeat the Mexicans and Texas became a republic.
The Battle of the Alamo is regarded as the climax of the Texas Revolution, but is seen as a controversial topic in depicting who the actual heroes were.
For ‘Anglo’ United States immigrants at the time, annexation meant freeing the state from the autocratic rule of Mexico and General Santa Ana.
These white Texan immigrants also wanted to maintain slavery as the Mexican government had abolished all forms of the human enslavement in 1829.
The ‘last stand’ at the Alamo on March 6, 1836 came after a small band of Americans held out for 13 days against the army of Mexican dictator General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
All the defenders of the Alamo Mission were killed, among them the famous frontiersman and former US Congressman Davy Crockett, best known for wearing a coon skin hat.
The leaders of the group included Crockett, already famous as a frontiersman, storyteller and crack shot, and James Bowie, known for his distinctive knife.