If your history classes from high school are fuzzy, you may have a hard time understanding why this t-shirt, a part of the “Gap x GQ” collection, a joint effort between Gap and GQ Magazine to showcase America’s best new designers, is causing such a controversy. But it is…oh boy, it is.
While some think “manifest destiny” means to achieve goals, the “Manifest Destiny” was first used by newspaper editor John O’Sullivan in 1845 to justify U.S. expansion into the West during the 19th century during the Second Great Awakening when many settlers believed God had blessed their expansion over the whole nation. Basically, “Manifest Destiny” was the phrase used that led to the mass genocide of many Native Americans.
Even the shirt’s designer, Mark McNairy didn’t know what “Manifest Destiny” meant when he designed the shirt. He said, “I first learned of Manifest Destiny in American History in Junior High School. To me it has always meant that one could set goals, work hard, and achieve their dreams. Having the opportunity to design for the Gap was the realization of one of my dreams. This phrase and they way I used it was in no way meant to be offensive or hurtful, and I apologize to those who might have interpreted it in that manner.” This Tweet, which was later deleted, was tweeted by McNairy, for which he soon apologized for later on and said in all caps, “I AM SORRY FOR MY SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST COMMENT. IT HURT ME DEEPLY TO BE CALLED A RACIST AS THAT IS NOT ME. I REACTED WITHOUT THINKING.”
Needless to say, Gap is in hot water. Change.org has over 5,000 signatures of people demanding the shirt be discontinued and an apology by Gap be issued, which they did and can be read here. The shirt has also been pulled from the website and they are removing it from their stores.
So what do you think? Do you find the Gap Manifest Destiny T-shirt offensive?
Personally, I am more offended by our country’s ignorance of American History.