Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has emerged as a frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He desires Florida to be the place the place woke involves die, and as president he would undoubtedly need the identical for the nation. Nevertheless, a federal courtroom choose has derailed that plan, prohibiting DeSantis from implementing the elements of Florida’s Cease WOKE Act that bar Florida’s educators from expressing some viewpoints in college lecture rooms, calling the regulation “positively dystopian.”
One may dismiss this and take the anti-woke language as merely red-meat rhetoric, however that may trivialize the governor’s imaginative and prescient for the way forward for the nation. Right now Florida is understood for its seashores, tropical local weather, citrus fruit and senior residents. That is good, however a lot of locations world wide share these traits.
What DeSantis is providing Florida after which the nation is a chance to uniquely rebrand itself. It could possibly be nationally, perhaps even internationally, acknowledged because the cemetery for wokeness. There isn’t any different nation or state that might make that declare.
Here is how we may also help make the governor’s aspiration a actuality.
Final 12 months, DeSantis signed laws making the destruction of historic monuments a felony. Nevertheless, because the homicide of George Floyd, 31 states, together with each blue states like California, Massachusetts and New York and pink states like Indiana, South Carolina, and Texas, in addition to Florida, have wokenly eliminated 377 Accomplice memorials and monuments. The value tag for his or her elimination and destruction or storage has various from $2,000 to $2,000,000 a chunk. The social value has been far increased by way of protests, threats of violence and deepening divisions in already politically frayed communities.
Such prices will be slashed by taking a leaf from DeSantis’ playbook. He shipped refugees legally within the US to Martha’s Winery in Massachusetts, which he characterised as a progressive state, a sanctuary location supportive of immigrants.
In a like method, states and communities that want to take away monuments and memorials may ship them to DeSantis on the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee, the place they are going to be welcomed and handled with respect as had been the refugees on Martha’s Winery.
This might be a win/win for everybody. The woke throughout the nation may get rid of their politically incorrect memorials with out the sturm und drang historically related to their elimination. DeSantis would obtain a rare present enabling him to attain his goals for Florida. What could possibly be a extra tangible method to show his dedication to eradicating wokee, which is outlined as alertness to injustice in society, particularly regarding race, than adorning the governor’s house and the grounds of the governor’s mansion with statues and memorials to slaveholders, racists and insurgent leaders?
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This can be a present that can hold giving. There are nonetheless greater than 1,500 Accomplice monuments that haven’t been eliminated. One can anticipate within the years forward, as states and communities grow to be extra delicate to social injustice, that they may proceed to raze their memorials, which they’ll proceed to ship to DeSantis.
Accomplice memorials could possibly be just the start. There are additionally monuments to anti-Semites, segregationists and authors and educators that could possibly be eliminated and despatched to DeSantis. The probabilities are mind-boggling.
With a whole bunch of memorials on the governor’s mansion, DeSantis, who’s financially punishing Disney for criticizing his “Do not Say Homosexual” college coverage, may open a rival to Disney World constructing on his statue monopoly “Woke Land.”
What child would not somewhat spend a day chit chatting with 8-foot forged members taking part in Jefferson Davis, Alabama Commissioner of Public Security “Bull” Connor, or Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio; dodging snarling canine; operating by high-pressure hoses on sizzling days, or watching the nightly guide burnings? No manner Mickey and Minnie may compete with that.
Here is one other winner. Florida is one in all seven states that also commemorate Accomplice Memorial Day. Desantis can put his cash the place his mouth is and make it a state vacation like Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina. To do in any other case can be tantamount to a confession of being smooth on wokeness.
Florida license plates may then be redesigned. They’re now inexperienced and white with photos of oranges at their middle and the phrases “Sunshine State” on the backside. If we do our half to assist Desantis, he may have earned the best to remake them: change their colour to funereal black, place the Grim Reaper on the middle, and exchange the present phrases with “The Graveyard State” or “The place Woke Involves Die.” If DeSantis turns into president, he may do the identical with authorities license plates, stamps and cash. To borrow a time period from his chief Republican rival, would not that genuinely be Making America Nice Once more?
Levine is president emeritus of the Woodrow Wilson Basis and a distinguished scholar of upper schooling at NYU.