Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) may be popular enough in his state to win reelection by a landslide.
But some who oppose his policies argue the state is becoming a hellish backwater. A state where members of the LGBTQ+ community and minorities are not welcome. A place where lunatic hateful right-wingers are frolicking around with guns all over the place.
At least, this is the image MSNBC’s Joy Reid tried to convey to her viewers on Tuesday night.
“[DeSantis is] turning Florida into a right-wing paradise where the focus isn’t on healthcare, or jobs, or taxes or infrastructure, or I don’t know hurricane or flood insurance in one of the most natural disaster-prone states in the country. You know, normal governor stuff,” Reid said. “But rather on the right wing culture wars.”
She went on, “Not only is he banning books about history and any mention of the existence of gay people from Florida schools, he’s barring public high schools from teaching AP African American studies.”
This would be a good time to mention DeSantis is not banning “any mention of the existence of gay people” in schools.” This is a line opponents of the Parental Rights in Education Act — which they have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” — like to repeat.
But the law prohibits instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation in the classroom from kindergarten to third grade. It does not ban the mention of gay people.
Watch the segment below:
MSNBC’s @JoyAnnReid: ” @GovRonDeSantis is turning Fla. into a right-wing paradise where the focus isn’t on healthcare or jobs or taxes or infrastructure or … but rather on the right-wing culture wars … Like Disney World, but in hell. Come to Fla., the meanest place on Earth” pic.twitter.com/94J6QPcXdL
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 1, 2023
Reid also took issue with DeSantis rejecting an Advance Placement African American studies course in Florida. He argued it violated the state’s Stop WOKE Act, which prohibits schools from teaching critical race theory to students.
And it seems he had good reason to be concerned. The New York Times reported on Wednesday the College Board released a new curriculum for the class, which “purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism.”
“The expunged writers and scholars include Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, a law professor at Columbia, which touts her work as ‘foundational in critical race theory’; Roderick Ferguson, a Yale professor who has written about queer social movements; and Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author who has made the case for reparations for slavery. Gone, too, is bell hooks, the writer who shaped discussions about race, feminism and class,” the Times added.
Students should be taught African American history as part of American history. And they should know about slavery and the ugly parts of our past, how we failed to live up to the ideals of our nation to ensure everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And they should learn about the many contributions African Americans made to our country and society.
But there were credible questions about whether this class would be teaching students the country is and has been racist from its beginning, and establishing the idea that, as a rule, the deck is stacked against Black people because racism is entrenched in every part of society.
“It’s a right-wing fantasy land, like Disney World, but in hell,” she continued. “Come to Florida, the meanest place on earth!”
Of course, she failed to mention crime rates in the state hit a 50-year low last year. And while a Category 4 hurricane battered it, DeSantis’ handling of its recovery cannot have been too bad because if it was, all the media would have been talking about his botched response for months. And he probably would not have won a nearly 20-point victory in November.
As with any governor, DeSantis has a mixed record. Some of his actions appear performative and designed to shore up his support among the base — such as investigating the Covid vaccines or his fight with Disney.
But others, such as banning the classroom instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity to young children, does not seem like they should be too controversial.
So is Florida “Disney World in hell”? Not really.