Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will have you know he is a strong proponent of freedom. Within mere weeks of signing legislation to all but prohibit the word “gay” from being uttered at Florida schools (among a host of other dangerous anti-LGBTQ measures) and trying to pull books out of classrooms for mentioning anything having to do with race, DeSantis on Monday signed a bill to establish Nov. 7 as “Victims of Communism Day.”
This day of remembrance will notably require students to learn “the truth about communism,” which, according to DeSantis, involves a death toll that “exceeds 100 million.” I’m sure that random number, which he and other conservatives frequently pull out of thin air, will be easier to push on Florida’s youth now that the state has banned all those math textbooks.
By requiring students to learn these curated, ahistorical right-wing lies, Florida’s Lt. Gov. Jeannette Núñez claims Victims of Communism Day will “teach [not only] our children but their children’s children, the importance of freedom,” and that the new… holiday (??) is aligned with the state’s mission of purging “woke terms” from classrooms. Freedom is clearly very important to the leaders of a state that’s already fired a slew of LGBTQ teachers across the state in recent weeks, since DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
For any impressionable Florida kids that may be reading this, please note that there have never been any “true” communist countries, owing largely to violent intervention from the US and other western superpowers. But that hasn’t stopped American propagandist and revisionist histories from slapping the label on really any country the US doesn’t like.
And for all the issues that these countries—many of which were subjugated by western military conquest and colonization for decades—may have, note that not calling an ambulance when on the brink of death because most ambulances don’t take insurance, insulin that costs $113.39 per vial (13 times the average in comparable countries, which is $8.19), and the $1.75 trillion student loan debt crisis are all uniquely American experiences. The US is also very much a leader in its populations of unhoused people and incarcerated people, many of whom are criminalized for survival crimes stemming from poverty. I wonder if any of those quirky little factoids will be discussed in classrooms on Nov. 7??
Florida schools have increasingly become the new frontier of the right-wing culture war, as well as DeSantis’s ongoing campaign to out-crazy the rest of his political party, which is notably home to Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, in his transparent 2024 bid for the White House. Because words can just mean anything these days, he is very much a proponent of freedom, who supports the firing of teachers of color who tell their students about first-hand experiences with racism, or LGBTQ teachers who might casually reference their same-sex partner.
And, as DeSantis’s creation of Victims of Communism Day would suggest, he is also very much a capitalist—what else would you call someone who’s currently regulating and penalizing a corporation for its recent pro-LGBTQ political speech??