Actor Chris Pratt found himself at the center of what turned into an immense controversy online when he stepped out in public wearing a T-shirt that some observers claimed had connections to white supremacy.

The Avengers: Endgame star was photographed wearing a T-shirt bearing the Gadsden flag juxtaposed with the American flag, depicting the U.S. flag with a coiled snake superimposed over it. Below the flag, his shirt reads, "Don't Tread on Me," and the picture went viral after it was posted online, with people weighing in from all sides about what it represents.

The Gadsden flag was created by Christopher Gadsden, who served as a brigadier general in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. At that time it served as a symbol for the colonies who were fighting for independence from Great Britain. In more recent years it has been adopted as a symbol by certain conservative groups, including the Tea Party and libertarians, and it has also been used in certain instances by white supremacy groups.

A few Twitter users sounded off about what they perceived as some sort of alignment with radical right white supremacists on Pratt's part, and Yahoo made those posts go viral in an article on Tuesday (July 16) titled 'Chris Pratt Criticized for ‘White Supremacist’ T-Shirt.' Yahoo later changed the title and slant of the article to 'Chris Pratt Criticized for T-Shirt Choice' that scrubbed all references to white supremacy, and the non-incident quickly became fodder for political pundits, with everyone from TMZ to Fox News to the Federalist weighing in.

The Hill reports that several conservative thought leaders also weighed in on the controversy, calling it manufactured and wrong-headed, including Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder and Erick Erickson. Shapiro called Yahoo's take on the T-shirt "pure idiocy" in a tweet, while Crowder called it "next level stupid."

Writing for the Resurgent, Erickson offered a far more extreme take on the T-shirt flap, saying liberals "have been nursing long held grievances against Chris Pratt for being an open and practicing Christian. Now they get to attack him on both fronts. It’s not that they really believe it. It’s just that they need to make an example of someone and the actor who talks about Jesus and loves America is the perfect target for them."

Pratt recently made headlines when he hit the stage at two different Nashville honky-tonks to perform covers of Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks.

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