Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh passed away last week after a year-long battle with lung cancer but he’s still stirring controversy, especially among the residents in his hometown of Palm Beach, Florida.
Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took a break from mismanaging the pandemic ravaging his state to declare his intention to have flags lowered to half-mast at a handful of government facilities including the state capitol in Tallahassee, the Palm Beach County Courthouse, and the town’s city hall. DeSantis was close friends with Limbaugh and no doubt meant the gesture as a way to honor the political pundit but the decision to order local governments to lower the national flag was met with anger on the part of democratic officials like Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried because, well … it’s Rush Limbaugh.
Traditionally, the honor of lowering flags to half-mast has been reserved for the passing of state officials, government leaders, fallen veterans, and victims of mass tragedies like the Parkland High shooting. Limbaugh, who was a noted figure in the Republican party, never served in the armed forces and though he did influence politics, he was never elected to public office. Most of his legacy rests in his divisive opinions on everything from racism to feminism and homosexuality — opinions he aired often on his radio talk show over decades.
“Although Rush Limbaugh was a significant public figure, he was also an incredibly divisive one who hurt many people with his words and actions,” McKinlay said in a statement posted on Twitter. “The lowering of flags should be a unifying gesture during solemn occasions.”
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman had an even sharper comeback to DeSantis’ bizarre tribute, tweeting “In St. Pete we don’t honor hatred, racism, bigotry, homophobia, or anything else he has spewed over the years.” Fried echoed those sentiments.
“Lowering to half-staff the flag of the United States of America is a sacred honor that pays respect to fallen heroes and patriots. It is not a partisan political tool,” she said. “Therefore, I will notify all state offices under my direction to disregard the governor’s forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh — because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division.”