NPR Goes Into Concerned Hysterics Over Florida Placing the Gadsden Flag on License Plates

Florida's Proposed Gadsen License Plate (Credit: Christina Pushaw)

History be damned, there has to be hatred with a centuries-old flag representing libertarian independence from oppression.

One of the consistently mirthful aspects of covering the media is when I get to sit back and behold as they abandon journalism in an excitable emotional state. You can usually see it coming in the form of some overexcited yet underdeveloped pique of fervency over a topic — when you can practically see the smoke rising off of their keyboard after a flourish of lexicon delivery. Of course, the conflict of facts and feelings is the usual undoing of these writing histrionics.

Mike Miller detailed how the press recoiled at the state of Florida announcing a new license plate, and the indolent thinking continues. This particular version comes from Scott Neuman, at National Public Radio, and he falls prey to a common malady infecting the press at nearly outbreak levels – DeSantis Delusion Complex. The point of infection was a social media post from the governor, and the symptom is the telltale opposition to his actions, absent a pragmatic approach. Governor Ron said something, so he is automatically incorrect and a journalist must scorch him in an appropriate fashion.

The state of Florida legislature passed a bill that will allow residents to select a license plate that features the historic Gadsden flag, that lasting symbol of libertarian independence. Neuman wastes no time placing his ardent opposition on display.

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently tweeted an image of what he said was a new state license plate featuring a coiled rattlesnake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me,” he said it sends a “clear message to out-of-state cars.”

Dastardly stuff. How is this man even allowed to govern a state, with that kind of attitude?! Of course, lost in the consternation of his prose, Neuman manages to diminish the fact that these plates are offered up to benefit veterans groups.

The problem, as Neuman sees it, is in DeSantis embracing this symbol, but early on we get a glimpse of the conflict roiling within the writer. The historical realities of the flag run counter to his own contemporary interpretation of it being a symbol of hate and intolerance. You can almost sense the tension he felt while grappling with this conflict.

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.

This is the infantilism of thought many in the press resort to. Apparently, two and a half centuries of messaging is completely erased, because some stunted mooks left the flag behind in The Rotunda on January 6. Another glossed-over detail is that, as Neuman does allude to a couple of other states, there are actually close to a dozen that have offered these plates to residents, for years now, absent any of this kind of concern-trolling in the press.

Neuman then finds an “expert” to back his attempt at revisionist history, a spokesperson from the Sothern Poverty Law Center who declares the flag has been seen during some causes which were “really awful.” Ah, so some 250 years of symbolism have been completely eclipsed by things they do not like that occurred in the last couple of years.

Now comes the comedic portion of his screed. Credit first, though, to Neuman; he at least sought out other voices to place proper historical context. But then he resorts to focusing on more contemporary influences of the flag’s true meaning, in his estimation.

The Tea Party movement…adopted the banner in 2010 as a sort of catch-all symbol of disgust with government. Since then, it has gone on to become a symbol for anti-government groups and individuals.

Ah Ha! There you have it! The Gadsden flag is offensive and problematic because it is the new representation of anti-government sentiments and the danger that is represented by anyone who dares challenge our duly elected leadership! This is precisely why it is completely wrong for these license plates to be offered up for the residents…uh…by…by the government. Oops, Scott.

Then there is another paradox slyly rearing itself in this piece. If Neuman finds a problem with a governor offering this option, is he not then also joining the forces of those wretched souls opposing the government?! Man, this stuff can get really confusing! Maybe flying off the handle and drawing up a lengthy column of outrage about license plates was the main problem with all of this.

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