Voices of Wisdom

One of the things that most concerns me today is Ron DeSantis’ attempts to re-write the history of this nation.  Bad enough that he has succeeded in making equality, education, and justice taboo in the state of Florida, but given his almost certain bid for the presidency next year, his obvious goal is to control the narrative at the national level – a move that can lead to only one place, a very dark and dangerous place.  The following by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner is a highly perceptive assessment of the danger that is Ron DeSantis.

Race Matters

Delighting in division

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

02 February 2023

Much of American history is entangled with racism and white supremacy. That is the reality of our beloved nation, no matter how much we wish it were not.

As we sit here nearly a quarter of the way through the 21st century, it is obvious that we need to have the maturity to look back to our past as well as ahead to the future. Can we do this with our eyes wide open? Will we study and learn from the lessons of history?

You can’t grapple with the truth if you hide it from view. Yes, our national narrative is an inspiring one — of freedom, rights, and new opportunities. But it is also a narrative of pain — of the bondage, rape, and murder of enslaved people. It is a story of mass death, broken treaties, and land stolen from Native people. And it is a story of persecution of the “other,” time and again.

The chasm between the noble promises of our founding documents and our historical realities continues to obstruct our national journey toward a more perfect union.

Yes, ours is a country that has facilitated exploration, innovation, and growth, but it is also one built upon families torn apart at the auction block, bodies whipped, and police dogs and fire hoses set against children.

Cities were redlined. Public schools were segregated. And despite our carefully cultivated national image as a meritocracy, throughout our history we have seen talent overlooked and our common humanity diminished on account of people’s race, religion, and sexual orientation.

The ripples of injustice continue to destabilize our society.

It shouldn’t be controversial to say any of this. But acknowledging these truths today is a political act, because it threatens the privileged narratives of those who seek to sugarcoat our past. These are men and women who serve their own ambitions by fortifying their cynical holds on power, delighting in division, feeding off fear, and applauding anger.

And that brings us to Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis.

Listing all of his efforts to leverage the power of his office to attack equity, empathy, and justice would stretch this post immeasurably. But doing so would also jeopardize the central point: DeSantis is an opportunist. He is not weighing the merits of any one campaign. Rather, he wants headlines as a culture warrior standing up to “wokeness,” a term he has eagerly redefined to suit his own purposes. It allows him to sneer at and dismiss any attempt to reckon with American injustice.

DeSantis has focused his assaults on two of our society’s most traditionally marginalized groups: Black Americans and the LGBTQ community. While these populations have thus far felt the brunt of his targeting, we need to see clearly that his rhetoric is a threat to all who care about a democratic, peaceful, empathetic, and just America. Those of us with the greatest privilege should bear a special burden in rejecting this hate.

DeSantis’s pugilism has enabled him to consolidate power in Florida. Any opposition to his toxic initiatives must contend with the uncomfortable truth that voters validated his message and style via his landslide win in November. Now DeSantis thinks he can take his show on the road with a presidential bid. That remains to be seen. Florida has been trending Republican in recent years, and success there might not translate to the current battleground states, many of which saw big Democratic wins in the midterms.

All that being said, there is a great danger to framing this struggle primarily through the lens of electoral politics. This normalizes a discourse that should be rejected by society’s mainstream. Just as the outright bigotry of the past became socially unacceptable, so too should these latest attempts at divisiveness.

It should not surprise us that DeSantis is making schools — both K-12 and college — a central target. He wants to teach a distorted view of America. He wants to make dissenting speech not only suspect but even criminal. He wants to silence the voices of his critics and of critical thinking more generally. This is a playbook that has been followed by demagogues before to very dangerous ends.

It is essential that DeSantis not be covered by the press through a false equivalence paradigm. We can debate what we should teach and how to teach it. But we can’t replace the truth, as unsavory as it may be, with sanitized narratives that suit those already in power. This is a battle for the minds of the voters of the future. This is about what kind of nation we will become.

But DeSantis primarily cares about what kind of country we are now. He wants to appeal to fear because he thinks he can mine that fear for votes. That is his game plan. And he’s not hiding it. There can be no appeasement. DeSantis has already shown that he isn’t interested in deliberations or good faith compromise. Those would disrupt his approach of means to an end.

History illustrates that hatred can be taught, but so can empathy and justice. We are on a winding journey as a nation. And we have much farther to go. But we have made progress in the face of bigots and autocrats because people had the courage to forge the inequities of our past into a more equitable future.

This history, this truth, is what scares people like DeSantis the most. But it is one that can give us hope if we are determined not to look away.

15 thoughts on “Voices of Wisdom

  1. Being in Florida, I can tell you what I see. It’s a state with a high elder population living in the past. It’s a lot of small rural cattle and citrus towns where people never travelled, saw the world or moved away. Then there’s the redneck beer drinking big truck driving with those confederate flags, living in a run down single-wide types. 95% of all of these above are white.

    There is a rather large Hispanic and Mexican population here, that due to being fairly religious, tend to not like the idea of gays, abortion etc. so some are conservative.
    Religion is typical of a southern state..pretty fundamentalist evangelical in nature..so conservative.

    But not all. All my close friends and 90% of their other friends are liberal and democrat. So we do exist. Orlando and south Florida are more liberal. But it’s definitely a red state.

    Blacks are voter suppressed and gerrymandered from having their vote count. I would suspect a good percentage don’t vote.

    Other than the large elder population, I think this profile could fit many states. I have a friend in Wisc and it’s not much different there.

    The biggest problem of all is apathy..simply not caring to want to know the truth, as long as their lives are not bothered.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mary, I think you are spot-on in your assessment. I suppose there comes a point in one’s life that, even faced with evidence that one’s lifelong beliefs are wrong, it is impossible to change what one has thought for decades. I am thankful that I’ve always been a ‘woke’ person, since about the age of 5, and I could not change my views at this point if somebody put a gun to my head. Same is true for those who were taught bigotry from the cradle, I imagine. But, doesn’t this prove the point that it is crucial we educate the future generations better? Sigh.

      Although I live north of the Mason-Dixon line and have only been to Florida once in my life, when I was but a child, I have many friends in Florida (yourself included), and not a single one of them are bigots in any way. In fact, of my Floridian friends, at least 8 are members of the LGBTQ community. It’s hard to fathom how there are so many more that are of the opposite mind, who would condemn any who don’t look, act, and think as they do. What a boring existence they must have.


  2. DeSantis is Trump × 10. Trump showed that hatred and division could lead to the oval office but he was interested only in wealth and keeping the wealthy monetarily healthy. DeSantis too is on the side of the wealthy, but he is more concernec with keeping white people, especially STRAIGHT WHITE MALES believing they are inherently superior to all other skin colours!
    We were able to defeat Trump because the over 90% of people in America were not wealthy, so there were many not on his side. Meanwhile, almost 60% of Americans are defined as white. We don’t know how many of them believe themselves to be superior to everyone else, but it is not a small number. There could be a fight.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Big sigh! Want to run away with me? Let’s buy a spaceship and head for Venus! Start our own colony where we can control everyone and their movements, thoughts, politics — on wait. We can do that by moving to Florida and letting Ron do it for us. Maybe it would help if we could change the wording of the Constitution to include women. Who knows, that might actually give all women the right to — no, murder is still and always a criminal act. Hmm, I guess it will have to be “Venus or bust!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES!!! Let us go find a good deal on a spaceship, learn to fly the darned thing, and get the heck off this planet before it’s inhabitants blow it up!!! You couldn’t pay me money to even visit Florida these days. Trump is a madman … a dangerous one … but DeSantis may well be even more dangerous for unlike Trump, he is relatively educated and hie ego doesn’t dominate his actions. He could and likely would turn this nation into something I could not live in. Can you imagine the look on certain Republican’s faces if we even suggested that the wording of the Constitution be changed to “All humans are created equal”? HAH … they’d have heart failure! Nope, Venus is our better bet. I’ll start packing tonight!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m packing up already. Now who do we contact about that space ship? We could sell tickets to friends we can trust if they want to go with us. It’s about time women had their own planet! OR, we could ship some of the politicians to Venus or Mars and get clear minded people to take over the political arena. It might not be too late to save this plnet if we begin to clean it up immediqtely!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well … the most reliable, I suppose, would be NASA, but I can only imagine the red tape there. Perhaps Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk would give us a deal … I hate dealing with those two slimeballs, but desperate times call for desperate measures, as they say. Of the two, I guess Bezos is the lesser of two evils, so let’s try him first. Your idea about selling tickets to friends we trust is a good one … probably can only take 4-5 people with us, so we’ll have to really narrow the field. Hmmmmmm … I like your idea about shipping the politicos off instead, but the trouble is there are hundreds of them … can you imagine how many spaceships we would need? And then, they’d be contaminating the universe, not just Planet Earth. Still, it’s worth giving some thought to!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Maybe we can begin with the worst offenders as an example for those who follow. Seeing them being blasted off for a four year ride to another planet might give the rest of them something to think about the next time they start being stupid. That seems like a better idea than going ourselves. I get motion sickness easily and the aftermath of that could make for smelly passage. Plus, if the rest of the slimeballs don’t straighten up we can sell tickets to raise the money for a second space ship for the next group. let each person who donates toss something to remember them by inside the ship for the politicoles to think about during the four year trip. We could even raise money for the ship by selling raffle tickets to people who would like to put something to remember them by in the ship.
            Would you believe someone told me today I have a wicked sense of humor?

            Liked by 1 person

            • There’s a thought … thing is, there are so many truly horrible ones that we’d have a hard time narrowing it down to just a handful of the very worst. Obviously the starting point would be Donald Trump, and we’d go from there. Okay, we’ll put our heads together and work on a ‘short’ list for starters. I know of plenty that would buy tickets to help us send off the next round, too … I wonder if we could borrow the Kennedy Space Center for the send-off so more people could come and watch? Well, having a wicked sense of humour is most often a compliment … did he or she mean it that way? I usually take it as a complement!

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill, this should be required reading by all citizens of Florida. It teaches a great deal beyond the deceit of the governor. It reveals DeSantis’ deceit as an example of previous cover ups in our history. How many folks know of the Lavendar Scare in the US or that the gaslighting of the Civil War being about states rights was a means to get poor whites to fight a war for rich whites? Keith


    • I fully agree! No, children in this country aren’t being taught ALL of our history … already they are taught mainly only the good things, the bad being left on the back burner to simmer and fester until one day … surprise! We go back to Jim Crow … or even worse. I shudder to think of DeSantis sitting in the Oval Office, signing off on educational policies that would further whitewash history, would further shove minorities into a closet.


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