As if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t make Sunshine State liberals cringe enough, they will now have a new reason to need a safe space. On Wednesday, he tweeted out the image of a new Florida license plate that depicts Revolutionary War-era Gadsden flag depicted on it and the famous phrase, “Don’t Tread On Me.”

Despite the flag dating back to the colonial era, a new report from NPR claims that now, the flag is synonymous with “dangerous far-right extremist ideology.”

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NPR Agenda

Gov. DeSantis stated that all proceeds for the license plates would go to the Florida Veterans Foundation, and invited residents to pre-order them. But helping veterans was not a good enough agenda for NPR. 

The NPR report is quick to connect the flag to the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, stating, “The imagery of the Revolutionary War-era Gadsden flag dates to Benjamin Franklin but has, for many, come to symbolize a far-right extremist ideology and the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement that sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.”

The report also quotes Rachel Carroll Rivas, who is the deputy director of research and analysis for the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. She stated that, “The state can’t claim a lack of knowledge about what this image represents to most of the public.”

NPR continues to quote Rivas, but also adds their own analysis, “She says it’s become clear that the flag has been used for some ‘really awful’ causes, most notably the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where violent protesters attacked police as part of an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.”

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History Of The Gadsden Flag

Most Americans are no doubt familiar with the Gadsden flag. The flag was created in 1775 by South Carolina Congressman Christopher Gadsden. He created it for Esek Hopkins, the first Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Navy. It was flown over his flagship the USS Alfred, and was also the first flag of the U.S. Marines. It has even appeared on money.

In the run-up to the Revolution, Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay that appeared in the “Pennsylvania Gazette,” under the pseudonym “An American Guesser.” In the essay, Franklin explained why he thought the rattlesnake depicted on the flag was a good symbol for Americans in their drive to oppose the oppressive British crown:

I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds ’till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.

A picture says a thousand words, and the flag’s meaning is exceedingly simple and easy to grasp – unless one is deliberately attempting to graft their own, alien meaning to it.

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Gadsden Flag Renaissance 

Though long used by libertarians, the Gadsden flag made a comeback of sorts in 2010 during the Obama administration, and the attempt to pass the Affordable Care Act. Americans had had enough of government overreach and were speaking out about it.

They held rallies where the flag was displayed prominently. It was and is a symbol of freedom-loving Americans who were not going to be pushed around by their government. 

But once again, bad news for the left. The Gadsden flag and its “Don’t Tread on Me” motto are protected speech.

Eugene Volokh is a professor at the UCLA School of Law. He explained:

“We know that some people are upset by that slogan. The government is perfectly entitled to take controversial stands or in this case stands that have become newly controversial because some very small group of people have ended up using a symbol for purposes that are very different”.

As liberals travel Florida roads with their “coexist” bumper stickers securely in place, get ready for them to be triggered by “Don’t Tread on Me” license plates.

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