Florida's Republican governor was blasted for being a "reactionary and authoritarian" liar in a hard-hitting Christmas Day editorial published by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
"Remember the boogeyman, that specter your parents invoked to make you behave? Almost every culture has one. So do politicians when they want to create fear. Gov. Ron DeSantis has a boogeyman for the people of Florida. It is a real thing known as critical race theory — a discipline taught at some colleges but not in Florida public schools," the newspaper explained. "The governor wants nonetheless to ban it from schools and, for good measure, from the human resource policies and sensitivity training courses of privately owned businesses. That is not conservative; it is reactionary and authoritarian."
DeSantis calls his proposal the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act.
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"It perpetuates two persistent great lies: That racism did not have a major influence on American history and that it is not an issue now," the newspaper explained. "That is the current dogma of DeSantis's Republican Party in its determination to retain the allegiance of white voters who are terrified of losing social and political dominance to changing demographics. Demonization of critical race theory, by making it into a boogeyman, is one front in the Republican culture wars. DeSantis would make Floridians ignorant of the most troublesome aspects of our past, present and future."
The editorial board concluded that DeSantis "knows critical race theory isn't being taught in the schools," but is lying about the issue anyway.
"There's been nothing like the DeSantis bill in the 96 years since Tennessee outlawed the teaching of evolution. John Scopes, a high school teacher, volunteered to test the law in what became known, to the state's everlasting mortification, as the 'monkey trial.' Tennessee failed to repeal science, of course, but it did stunt the intellectual growth of a generation of children," the newspaper explained. "In the same vein, Virginia textbooks in the mid-20th century fed students a fiction of happy slaves who loved their kindly masters. One particularly deceitful illustration portrayed a well-dressed Black family — father, mother and children — being welcomed with a handshake aboard a slave ship."
The newspaper explained the impacts of DeSantis' lies.
"Although the Civil War ended slavery, it took another century to outlaw Jim Crow. But the effects persist, documented by the racial disparities in employment, income and incarceration; in ghettoes segregated by government housing policies; and by how Republican legislatures try to suppress Black votes. These truths are evident almost everywhere that honest eyes look," the editorial board wrote. "In truth, no one is teaching kids to hate our country or each other, but we do need to teach them not to hate each other, even unconsciously, and to recognize prejudices for what they are. That cannot be done by pretending they do not exist."
Read the full editorial.