As I watched Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ crash-test dummy presidential roll-out on Twitter I tried to imagine this man as leader of our somewhat free world. It was not a pretty picture.
Despite the interminable Twitter Spaces’ interruptions, I realized that DeSantis, a Yale and Harvard graduate, has a resting face devoid of any sense of warmth or empathy. He has a 1,000-mile squint, tilting his head — mouth agape — like an untrained puppy that hears a sound but can’t quite remember that it is his owner calling his name.
In this particular disaster of a presidential kickoff, the man presenting the governor of the Sunshine State happened to be the richest human on Earth: Elon Musk, owner of Twitter, the glitchy cyber platform where all of this went haywire. His sidekick was another billionaire, David Sacks, whose opening remarks, according to pundit Steve Schmidt, sounded like the Uni-Bomber’s manifesto.
Nowhere in this choppy announcement did I see a true representation of America, with all its amazing diversity. But that’s intentional. You see, DeSantis fears diversity — diversity of thought, sexual orientation, race, culture, and literature. It’s all “wokeness” to him.
Feel the Hate?
Last week, in the conservative caliphate, aka Florida, a woman, Daily Salinas, her vigilantism no doubt radicalized by the anti-woke governor, complained about the “hate messages” in Amanda Gorman’s poem The Hill We Climb, read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. At first, Salinas mistakenly attributed the poem to Oprah, perhaps because, well, they look so much alike.
Here are the offensive “hate messages” the concerned mother of two cited:
Feel the hate?
Gorman’s book containing the poem was quickly removed from the school, one of 357 different books confiscated in the state of Florida in the first half of this year. Only Texas (hold my beer) has banned more books.
Governor DeSantis rushed to the defense of Salinas, a member of the rightwing posse, Moms for Liberty, who has been, according to the Guardian, “photographed attending rallies by the neo-fascist Proud Boys group, admitted she had read only ‘snippets’ of several books she sought to have banned from the campus.” He predictably blamed the woke left for the uproar.
“They view you as an impediment to their ability to indoctrinate kids with their beliefs and their agendas. I’m sorry, I choose our beliefs as parents over the beliefs of the ideological left.”
Sorry indeed. So how did a double Ivy League graduate not learn from his learned profs that books contain ideas that inspire, educate, and elucidate? Wait, perhaps that’s the point of DeSantis’ book-banning bonanza. Historical context might be a tad too instructive.
For example, consider the fate of another bellicose autocrat: Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist and an inspiration to aspiring American fascists. Florida students will — if they are allowed to read about it — discover a familiar story.
In late 1938, according to the blog Oh Danny Boy, “Benito Mussolini ordered the Ministry of Culture to ban anything that wasn’t ‘exclusively Italian’ as it would lead their children of the day away from a life of a soldier. As such, Hollywood movies, Popeye and Mickey Mouse were singled out for banning, leading to one of the first, if not the first, mass banning of comic books anywhere in the world.”
When Mussolini’s people finally had enough of their rights being denied, they turned on him and hung him out to dry, so to speak. Now I am not advocating for violence against autocrats… OK, maybe against the likes of Mussolini, but the point history makes is that bullies often overreach and become tiresome.
Eighty years later, DeSantis’ vindictive campaign against the Walt Disney Company, creators of said Mouse, and Florida’s largest employer, is not going well. Disney recently canceled a billion-dollar, 2,000-job investment in the state, proving that cancel culture can work both ways.
Americans, even a few in Florida not part of The Villages geriatric, get-off-my-lawn! community, love their freedoms. They resent being told by a tin-pot government official what they can read, who they can love, what they are allowed to do with their own bodies, and, most of all, what they can say.
A former president with the initials DJT, who also resides in Florida, once boasted during his campaign, “I love the poorly educated!”
With the help of the poorly educated and the easily hoodwinked, he won his election in 2016. Then he was impeached. Twice. Then found guilty of sexual abuse and defamation. He now faces multiple indictments. He seeks a second term in 2024, running against DeSantis for the Republican nomination.
To picture a DeSantis presidency and the authoritarian chaos that will ensue, it is instructive to read about his opponent’s soiled legacy — while you still can, that is.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.