Reporting for the Orlando Sentinel yesterday, Steven Lemongello looked at how Gov. Meatball is wasting his time "on the culture war front, re-doubling his defense of the state’s controversial new Black history standards as a new report revealed a now-infamous anti-LGBTQ ad was actually made within the campaign itself. A pro-DeSantis account also tweeted a video that included alleged imagery of a Nazi symbol. Though reports that it had been retweeted by a DeSantis campaign staffer before it was deleted were unconfirmed, Florida Democrats pounced.DeSantis’ continuing cultural battles come amid reports that his presidential bid is planning a ‘reboot’ following worsening poll numbers and a major shedding of cash."
Writing over the weekend for L.A. Progressive, Henry Giroux took Meatball Ron to task, effortlessly and brilliantly noting that “the cult of manufactured ignorance now works through disimagination machines engaged in a politics of falsehoods and erasure. Matters of justice, ethics, equality, and historical memory now vanish from the classrooms of public and higher education and from powerful cultural apparatuses and social media platforms that have become the new teaching machines. In the current era of white supremacy, the most obvious version of apartheid pedagogy is present in attempts by Republican Party politicians to rewrite the narrative regarding who counts as an American, especially in the whitening of American history. This whitening of collective identity is largely reproduced by right-wing attacks on diversity and race sensitivity training, critical race programs in government, and social justice and racial issues in the schools. These bogus assaults are all too familiar and include widespread and coordinated ideological and pedagogical attacks against both historical memory and critical forms of education.
White ignorance is crucial to upholding the poison of white supremacy. Apartheid pedagogy is about denial and disappearance—a manufactured ignorance that attempts to whitewash history and rewrite the narrative of American exceptionalism as it might have been framed in in the 1920s and 30s when members of a resurgent Ku Klux Klan shaped the policies of some school boards. Apartheid pedagogy uses education as a disimagination machine to convince students and others that racism does not exist, that teaching about racial justice is a form of indoctrination, and that understanding history is more an exercise in blind reverence than critical analysis. Apartheid pedagogy aims to reproduce current systems of racism rather than end them. Apartheid pedagogy most ardent proponent is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who has become America's most prominent white supremacist. Nowhere is his version of apartheid pedagogy most obvious than in the new African American history standards adopted in 2023 by the Florida Board of Education. Under the new standards, middle-school students are told that slaves benefited from slavery by “developing new skills which…could be applied to their personal benefit.”
It is hard to understand how African Americans who were raped, tortured, whipped, and subject to unimaginable acts of dehumanization somehow benefited from the horrors of slavery. This is white supremacy on steroids. Under this form of apartheid pedagogy, students are also instructed that the acts of violence committed against African-Americans [as in] the “1905 Atlanta race riot, 1919 Washington, D.C. Race Riot, 1920 Ocoee Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Massacre and the 1923 Rosewood Massacre” were perpetrated not only by whites but also by African Americans. White supremacy is once again rewriting history by stating that mass violence and massacres committed by white racist mobs were sparked by violence from Blacks. In fact, in all of these massacres, whites entered Black communities and destroyed homes, businesses, and murdered Blacks. Two examples will suffice.
In the November 2, 1920, the Ocoee massacre took place. As Isis Davis-Marks observes, a white mob “of around 250 burned 22 homes, 2 churches and a fraternal lodge. The number of black residents killed in the attack remains unknown, with estimates ranging from 3 to 60. Several contemporary observers placed the death toll at between 30 and 35.”
During the Tulsa Race Massacre, which took place on May 30, 1921. whites committed numerous acts of violence against Black people. The Red Cross later estimated that “some 1,256 houses were burned; 215 others were looted but not torched. Two newspapers, a school, a library, a hospital, churches, hotels, stores and many other Black-owned businesses were among the buildings destroyed or damaged by fire.” 36 Black people were murdered.
DeSantis’ attempt to rewrite history and engage in a form of apartheid pedagogy is an attempt to both cover up this violence and strip away a history of structural racism. It is also an attempt to eliminate those historical narratives that instruct us to see what is wrong in our history so it cannot be repeated. This type of racist pedagogy is aimed at both whitewashing history and erasing the hard-fought struggles by African Americans to expand and protect their fundamental rights. Under such circumstances, history becomes a petri dish of lies designed to shift the country into a time when white oppression was legitimated and normalized. In addition, DeSantis’ attempt to distort the authoritarian ideology, menacing tactics, and violence aimed at those groups considered excess, a threat, and disposable is part of a larger attempt to erase how his own politics are closely aligned with fascist ideologies and practices rooted in the past.
This is a form of “patriotic education” being put in place by a resurgence of those who support Jim Crow power relations and want to impose pedagogies of repression on students in the classroom. This type of retribution is a part of a longstanding politics of fear, censorship and academic repression that has been waged by conservatives since the student revolts of the 1960s.
We’ve been warning our readers that for all his flaws— and after all he is the worst president of American history— Trump is probably not as horrible as DeSantis. Yesterday, centrist commentator Matthew Yglesias shared the same sentiments. He wrote that Trump has a lot of flaws as a person, as a policymaker, and as a politician. But the only criticism Ron DeSantis seems to have of him is that Trump isn’t a totally dogmatic ideologue. As criticisms go, this one does have the virtue of being true: Trump governed as a conservative who moved the policy status quo to the right, but he hasn’t spent the bulk of his career in the conservative movement, isn’t particularly steeped in the canon of conservative thought, and has from time to time been willing to toss aside conservative ideological dogma to advance his own purposes. If you’re looking for the most rigid right-winger in the universe, DeSantis is right— Trump is not your guy. As the basis for a presidential campaign, though, it’s not very persuasive, and I think DeSantis’s inability to articulate any other critique is one reason his campaign is flailing.” Good, let’s hope it continues to flail.
And flailing it is. In an increasing number of state polls, DeSantis has slipped out of second place, or is about to, as various other candidates are already catching up with him. His inevitability as the one Republican who could challenge Trump is anything but and GOP donors were the first to notice and start pulling back from the flailing campaign. It’s as though the more voters have gotten to know DeSantis— his personality, his policies, his record, his horrible Mafia princess wife, his vision— the more wary of him they’ve grown. Various sets of voters—and the media— are reevaluating Tim Scott, Nikki Haley (who’s beating Meatball in South Carolina), Chris Christie, even Vivek Ramaswarmy, who is at 10% in Mark Penn’s new national poll, to Meatball’s 12%.
Though Trump’s unfavorable rating among Republicans has risen from 24% in 2022 to 32% in 2023, the DeSantis campaign “reset” isn’t going to work, because the candidate is worse than the campaign. He’s been spending money like it would never run out. But it is and former GOP campaign operative Jonathan Last explained for Bulwark readers why that’s a big part of the Meatball Death Spiral:
He’s spending a large percentage of his total resources on goods that do not produce votes or impact polling.
He’s not on the air in Iowa where he must win in order to have any viability.
Donors won’t throw good money after bad when they see that he’s been spending their money not to beat Trump, but to live a lifestyle approximating their own.
On-the-make politicians who work hard to avoid regular people tend not to be good at winning elections.
“The first red flag for donors on DeSantis,” he added should have been his physical and vocal presentation. The second should have been his desire to avoid people.”
Even Florida Republicans are losing faith in their little Meatball. Just since he’s started campaigning openly for president, a Morning Consult look at every governor’s standing, shows DeSantis (towards the bottom of the 50) decreasing overall and among his own base:
I have a feeling that Mrs. DeSantis— who, after all, wears the cape in that dysfunctional family— will become so panic-stricken by Scott’s rise and Meatball’s impending collapse that she will find a way to out the closeted South Carolina “lifelong bachelor.”