In 1775, a South Carolina politician named Christopher Gadsden created a special flag for America’s colonial navy.
Colored bright yellow, the banner depicted a coiled rattlesnake above the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me.” According to the website Revolutionary War and Beyond, the Gadsden flag also became the first flag of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis borrowed from Gadsden to create his own logo, a yellow flag featuring a jaws-agape alligator with the words “Don’t Tread on Florida.” But DeSantis also paid tribute to Gadsden recently.
The state last month rolled out a new specialty license plate that is black and emblazoned with Gadsden’s flag. Proceeds from tag sales will go to the Florida Veterans Foundation.
DeSantis tweeted about the plate on July 30, saying, “The free state of Florida has a new license plate for pre-order that benefits the Florida Veterans Foundation and sends a clear message to out-of-state cars, ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ or Florida.”
But, naturally, liberals are not happy.
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On Wednesday, for instance, Newsweek magazine went straight to the liberal interpretation of a nearly 250-year-old symbol of resisting oppressive government.
“Much like the Confederate Flag, the Gadsden Flag is accused of harboring racial connotations, seeing as its designer owned and traded Black slaves,” the article stated.
Newsweek also quoted the criticism of a Twitter user with the handle Kamatsu, who wrote, “Leave it to FL Gov DeSantis to offer a License Plate which depicts their MAGA Qnut Right Wing Symbol of Hate on an official FL License Plate, what’s next the Confederate Flag? Plenty of other symbols can be used to benefit Veterans.”
WFLA in Tampa went there as well. Quoting Dictionary.com, of all sources, WFLA noted that the Gadsden flag evolved into “an expression of bigotry” once Tea Party types began waving it.
Quoting DeSantis’ tweet that the tag is available at county tax collectors’ offices, Justin O’Donnell, who describes himself as “subversive” on his Twitter account and adds that he is a Libertarian author, noted, “‘Visit your local tax collector to purchase a license plate that says don’t tread on me.’ There’s so much wrong with this sentence. Florida will never be free until the people realize that this is a trap.” O’Donnell doesn’t explain what the “trap” is.
Another Twitter user, quoted by WFLA in Tampa, said, “Stop calling us the free state of Florida, if that were true I’d be able to do my job as a teacher and create a safe space for all kids,” referring to the governor’s Parental Rights in Education law.”
Still, another added, “$ from specialty plates usually go to specific causes. I don’t think #RonDeRacist’s PAC qualifies as such.”
DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw responded to the critics on Wednesday, saying on Twitter, “The latest fake news hysteria is about the new Gadsden Flag license plate @GovRonDeSantis announced to help Florida veterans in need. Media is smearing this as a ‘racist’/’domestic terrorist’ symbol, which is absurd!”
The conservative website Twitchy gathered some responses from DeSantis fans who noted that both Virginia and Tennessee have had similar license plates for years.
Unfortunately, and likely unsurprisingly, as The Free Press reported on Wednesday, President Joe Biden’s Justice Department has released a memo that says those who unfurl the Gadsden flag are “MVEs,” which stands for “Militia Violent Extremists” – in other words, domestic terrorists.
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