On February 17, far-right talk radio veteran Rush Limbaugh died, leaving behind a legacy of hatred and hysteria that played a defining role in the modern Republican party.
Limbaugh celebrated the deaths of gay AIDS patients, popularized the term "feminazi," and frequently unleashed racist rants onto the airwaves virtually every chance he got, including calls to rebrand the NBA as the "TBA"—"Thug Basketball Association."
What's more, Limbaugh was embraced by the Republican party until the hour of his death. Former President Donald Trump infamously awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom in his 2020 State of the Union. Former Vice President Mike Pence, in 2001, said he was in Congress "because of Rush Limbaugh."
And when Limbaugh died last week, tributes to his formative influence on the Republican party oozed from all ranks within the Republican.
One such Republican was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who said he would order flags be flown at half staff to commemorate Limbaugh.
Describing the talk radio host as "one of our own," DeSantis said:
"What we do for something of this magnitude, when they announce the dates of internment for Rush, we are going to be lowering the flags to half staff. There's not much that needs to be said, the guy was an absolute legend."
But Florida's Democratic Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, vowed not to comply with the order.
I will not lower the flags at my Department’s state offices for Rush Limbaugh. Lowering our flag should reflect uni… https://t.co/9iPDNcsxOv— Nikki Fried (@Nikki Fried)1614018610.0
Fried asserted that the lowering of a flag should "reflect unity, not division," and shouldn't require a lowering of standards to commemorate the likes of Limbaugh.
The Agriculture Commissioner wasn't the only one to oppose the measure, with Democratic Florida State Senator Gary Farmer saying:
"Lowering the flag of the United States is a high honor reserved for those who have honorably and bravely served our state and our nation. Unfortunately, Gov. DeSantis has now transformed this distinction into a partisan political tool to salute a man who served no other interests than his own and did his best to deeply divide a country along political fault lines."
People voiced support for Fried's decision.
Agree 💯 https://t.co/ptlEylTI0P— JGreen, M.P.A. (@JGreen, M.P.A.)1614036718.0
Thank you for your leadership @nikkifried https://t.co/Uo7DHHS5My— Andrew Weinstein (@Andrew Weinstein)1614022240.0
Thank goodness , some sense at last https://t.co/uiHjU82rBP— Svelt 🏳️🌈❣️ (@Svelt 🏳️🌈❣️)1614050882.0
RIGHT ON NIKKI FRIED!!!!! https://t.co/VIGIhxoD2w— Cliff W (@Cliff W)1614028786.0
Outstanding!! https://t.co/guAnP8muLz— Franklin Taveras (@Franklin Taveras)1614047921.0
DeSantis's order was met with widespread opposition from around the country, especially as the United States passes 500 thousand American deaths due to the devastating pandemic.
My Governor is making people lower their flags for Rush Limbaugh rather than 500,000 innocent Americans who died an… https://t.co/Xypa29XXom— Tony Posnanski (@Tony Posnanski)1614083802.0
It is obscene that Republicans want to lower the flag to half-mast for a vile bigot like Rush Limbaugh, but never t… https://t.co/4f75q7xiQx— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@BrooklynDad_Defiant!)1613847439.0
500,000 Americans have been killed by covid. But sure, Ron DeSantis, let’s lower the flags for Rush Limbaugh instead.— Kim Mangone (@Kim Mangone)1613938359.0
No one with a conscience could honor a man that brought so much hate to our nation. https://t.co/lpkIEaiBmC— Tea Pain (@Tea Pain)1614023247.0
DeSantis is a favorite for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.