Ron DeSantis Is Blithely Sowing the Whirlwind

·5-min read
Photo credit: Joe Raedle - Getty Images
Photo credit: Joe Raedle - Getty Images

FLORIDA MAN VISITS 1950S. WANTS TO REMAIN THERE.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

[Governor Ron] DeSantis, however, said the intent of the measure is to prevent public universities and colleges from becoming “hotbeds for stale ideology.” “It used to be thought that a university campus was a place where you’d be exposed to a lot of different ideas,” DeSantis said. “Unfortunately, now the norm is, these are more intellectually repressive environments. You have orthodoxies that are promoted, and other viewpoints are shunned or even suppressed.”

Any guesses what he’s talking about here? First two don’t count.

The governor did not name specific state universities or colleges with this problem. He was broad in his accusations about the higher education system and used vague anecdotes to justify the need for such a survey.

For instance, the governor said he “knows a lot of parents” who are worried that their children will be “indoctrinated” when they go off to college, and that universities are promoting “orthodoxies.” But he did not offer specifics on those claims.

The reason the governor did not do this is because the governor is as full of crap as the Christmas goose. He did not cite examples because he doesn’t have any, and he knows it, and he also knows that it doesn’t matter to his intended audience of nervous white people who think Derrick Bell is going to parachute in from beyond the grave and teach their children about slavery. And also, the governor did not do this because he has to pretend this is somehow a value-neutral program and not a return to loyalty oaths, watch lists, and the fervid imaginings of Legion Magazine. His allies in the state legislature aren’t quite as worried about that.

[State Senate President Wilton] Simpson, speaking at a state university system’s Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, said there appear to be “socialism factories” in the state’s public university system. “We always hear about the liberal parts of the university system, and we don’t hear so much of that from the college system,” Simpson said.

Sprowls echoed some of that sentiment at the governor’s press conference. “As the governor said, we are at great risk, as a nation and as a state, on the lack of intellectual diversity that is on our university campuses,” Sprowls said. “We have decided that one ideological standard will win the day, but the thing is we’re losing because we’re not having real conversations.”

No, I don’t know what he’s talking about, either. There are too many individual dialects of wingnut for me to be fluent in all of them.

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At the inspiration of opportunistic charlatans like Ron DeSantis, the ginned-up hysteria over imaginary educational bogeyfolk is at risk of getting violent. School board meetings are turning into frenzied witch tribunals. The Loudon, Virginia school board went semi-viral on Wednesday because the meeting blew up over the twin wingnut combustibles of Critical Race Theory and the rights of transgender students. From the Washington Post:

Byard said school board chair Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) warned the crowd several times to lower their voices and referenced a school board policy that requires members of the public speaking at school board meetings to “refrain from vulgarity, obscenities, profanity or other . . . breaches of respect for the dignity of the school board.” Sheridan had opened the meeting by reciting this policy.

But the dozens of audience members did not listen, and — after 51 of roughly 250 scheduled speakers had approached the lectern to speak — the board called for a vote on whether to end public comment. Members voted unanimously to end the comment session and eventually resumed meeting in a closed session.

Kraig Troxell, the spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, said that after the board voted to end public comment and asked those in attendance to leave, “several attendees refused to leave,” and one man was issued a summons for trespassing. A second man “displayed aggressive behavior towards another attendee,” Troxell said, then became disorderly with a deputy and “physically resisted arrest.” The man was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Troxell said.

And, in Louisville, the Courier-Journal’s intrepid education reporter, Olivia Krauth, live-tweeted the rising frenzy at a meeting of the Jefferson County School Board. This is from the wrap that Krauth wrote for this morning’s paper. It’s damn good reporting, but it doesn’t have the maddened momentum of Krauth’s on-scene twitter thread.

Protesters then moved into the district's school board meeting, falsely believing JCPS was considering building critical race theory into the district's strategic plan — the first item on Tuesday's agenda. While the theory is not in the strategic plan, racial equity is. To many in Tuesday's crowd, they are the same concept…After a bit of back and forth between the two and praise for JCPS' racial equity work from Shull, someone in the crowd shouted, "All kids matter!" Others joined in, and the situation quickly escalated to a cacophony of shouting.

Board Chairwoman Diane Porter began trying to speak over the crowd to diffuse the situation, causing the crowd to begin yelling to her. "I do not want to hear your comments," Porter said at one point, before calling for a five-minute recess.

Sooner or later, somebody’s going to get hurt. There is a special place in hell for politicians who blithely sow the whirlwind the way that conservative Republicans are doing right now. They’re going to have to put on another couple of floors there, I’m thinking.

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