It is axiomatic that bullies always complain that they’re the victim, not the ones they beat up on. It’s as old as childhood’s “I’ll get you at recess” and then “why are you blaming me?” when they’re caught. The current version of that mindset is perfectly encapsulated in the Republicans’ attempt to keep their grip on the white male patriarchy of MAGA caps and metaphorically (and sometimes all too really) stuffing a sock in their pants to appear to be much, much more than they are.
Case in point is Florida’s own Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose blind ambition is to own the libs while killing off the ideas of small-government/more freedom in the name of “freedom” by dictating, in every sense of the word, what should and shouldn’t be taught in the state’s public schools. Under sane leadership, not to mention the laws and constitution of the state, the local school boards would be left to decide what is taught in the schools under their control, including curriculum and health and safety standards. But under the thumb of DeSantis, the local community cannot do that because actually following best educational practices and health guidelines interfere with his political goal to be the next Trump.
His latest bit of pants-stuffing bullying is the decree to make “Victims of Communism Day” a mandated lesson plan in Florida schools.
While a handful of states do have some sort of legitimate official holiday to mark a “Victims of Communism Day,” DeSantis, per usual, took the move a few steps further. In signing House Bill 395 into law on Monday, DeSantis not only recognized November 7 as the official holiday, but also made it state law for public schools in Florida to spend at least 45 minutes on that remembrance day instructing students on the regimes of various communist figures like Joseph Stalin and Fidel Castro, the Miami Herald reported.
It also requires that teachers spend time in the classroom discussing famous Cuban exiles and the “poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence, and suppression of speech” experienced under Castro, Stalin and Mao Zedong’s leadership, per the Herald.
“That body count of Mao is something that everybody needs to understand because it is a direct result of this communist ideology,” DeSantis said during the bill signing Monday. “I know we don’t need legislation here to do this but I think it’s our responsibility to make sure people know about the atrocities committed by people like Fidel Castro and even more recently people like Nicolas Maduro.”
On the one hand, this move is a barely-veiled effort to own the libs. DeSantis and others of his ilk have been trying for years to paint progressive Democrats and the Democratic Party as a whole as some sort of far-left radical political movement hellbent on making America a communist nation — simply for the crime of supporting things like, I don’t know, universal health care.
On the other, this appears to be another layer of the Republican Party’s effort to make public education the top campaign messaging issue for the party ahead of the Midterms. This is, of course, despite the fact that all of the education-related “issues” the GOP is focused on are not only non-existent — like claiming that teachers who educate students about LGBTQ+ issues are “groomers” — but also a form of the very censorship the party’s historically claimed to rally against.
And DeSantis, with his 2024 ambitions, is one of the worst red state offenders — leading the pack with infamously aggressive spins on laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community, banning textbooks and outlawing Critical Race Theory — in Florida, the anti-CRT law extends outside of the classroom and into the workforce, aiming to ban the discussion of issues that might make a (white) person experience “discomfort.”
I don’t think the screaming irony of the state dictating school policy from the capital is lost on anyone, and I wonder if they did that on purpose so that they can show just what authoritarianism is like, whether it’s communism, fascism, or theocracy.
But it does prove that DeSantis does understand the basic concept that got those regimes going in the first place: play up the victimhood — I’m the one being oppressed here! — and then get the base who carry grudges against the Others to go along with it, thereby securing their support as well as their money.
That is all that really matters to him because I can assure you that neither Ron DeSantis nor anyone who thinks like him really gives a care about the real victims of his rule, who in this case are the people in the state he’s running who don’t agree with him.
And I will bet you all the change in my pocket that the only “critical race theory” that Ron DeSantis cares about is the one he’s running in to be president.