Florida is officially a laboratory for fascism in the U.S.
By CHAUNCEY DEVEGA February 7, 2023
Ron DeSantis is not a "mini-Trump" or some other diminutive. He is much more dangerous. Donald Trump has no "ideology" beyond megalomania and a deep desire to be an American god king. By comparison, DeSantis is far more intelligent and devious; he is an ideological fascist and racial authoritarian.
In a recent essay at Raw Story, Thom Hartmann summarized the danger to American democracy and society embodied by DeSantis:
Historians and political observers have been predicting that America would get our very own Mussolini ever since the days of Barry Goldwater. And there's been no shortage of candidates: bribe-taking Nixon; Central American fascist-loving Reagan; Gitmo torturing and war-lying Bush; and, of course, Trump.
But with Ron DeSantis, we may finally be facing an all-American politician who has Mussolini's guile, ruthlessness, and willingness to see people die to advance his political career, all while being smart and educated enough to avoid the easily satirized buffoonishness of Trump
DeSantis and other Republican fascists have proclaimed Florida to be a bastion of "freedom" and "liberty." In reality, Florida is now a laboratory for fascism. As part of his authoritarian project, DeSantis is enforcing thought crime laws that forbid the teaching of AP African-American studies in high school and other courses and programs across Florida's school system (including at the college and university level) that examine questions of power, race and systemic inequality. DeSantis and his agents recently declared that the AP African-American studies course was inappropriate and will not be taught in Florida's schools because it has "no educational value" and is "indoctrinating" (white) young people. DeSantis and his regime's thought crime attacks on African-American studies are Orwell's "1984" meets "Birth of a Nation."
The purpose of DeSantis' thought crime laws is to intimidate and terrorize all teachers, educators, librarians, and others who are committed to education, critical thinking, and the truth in Florida (and beyond). In DeSantis' Florida — and soon to be across "red state" America if he and the other fascist Republicans get their way — there will be censors who review books and other material for thought crimes and other "dangerous" ideas that are contrary to the interests of conservatives. These censors and party officials and their designated agents will also rewrite history – and reality itself – to fit the demands of the regime. The public will no longer be able to discern truth from lies and fantasies from facts and fiction. The subversion and destruction of reality, facts, and the truth are a precondition for, and one of the primary ways that fascist and other authoritarian regimes obtain and keep power.
DeSantis' goal is to make America into a new Jim Crow Christofascist plutocracy. Donald Trump and Trumpism were just intermediate stops on that evil journey.
A more humane and good society are possible if we want it badly enough on both sides of the color line. Racism and white supremacy are a choice. America is structured around such forces and too many white Americans and others are deeply invested in such an arrangement of things -- even if it causes them great harm. DeSantis and the larger white right are using thought crimes and other tools of censorship and intimidation as weapons to limit how we conceptualize freedom, democracy, justice, and the boundaries of the possible. DeSantis and those of his ilk wouldn't be trying to ban books and authors (and by implication whole groups of people) if they were not deeply afraid of them – and the possibilities of achieving a more democratic and free and humane society.
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