Jesse Jackson: DeSantis following Trump’s lead

Jess Jackson

Ron DeSantis, newly re-elected governor of Florida, is a leading Republican contender for the presidency.

He repeats all the favorite tropes of right-wing Republicans: build the wall, send immigrants to Massachusetts, ban abortion after 15 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest, tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, curtailing the right to vote.

His characteristic stance, however, is “defending liberty” against what he calls the “awakened liberal agenda.”

What is the wake agenda? DeSantis spokespersons define the term “awakening” as “the belief that there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.”

DeSantis doesn’t believe that. So he’s lobbied for an attack on Florida’s schools — he’s set up commissions to review lesson plans, passed laws banning books, and culminated in the so-called “Stop Woke Act,” which aims to protect students from any instruction that making them “feel guilt, fear, or any other form of psychological distress” because of their face, color, gender, or national origin; and the passage of the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which restricts discussion of sexual preferences.

As Chief Justice of the U.S. District Court Mark Walker noted in his ruling that the Stop Wake Act violated First Amendment and 14th Amendment protections, the state’s argument that “professors enjoy “academic freedom.” , only so long voiced these viewpoints, which the state endorses is “positively dystopian”.

DeSantis is part of the violent response to the civil rights movement and its quest to bring equal justice to all by correcting the ingrained injustices in our system that apply to women, gays and lesbians, and especially blacks and people of color. Every Reconstruction movement in this country has prompted a reaction — and DeSantis sees political advantage in making himself the leader of that reaction.

The reality — whether DeSantis believes it or not — is undeniable. America is still marked by deep-seated racial, gender, and sexual prejudices. For example, every study shows that African Americans — and especially African-American men — are more likely to be stopped by police, more likely to be searched if stopped, more likely to be arrested, and more likely to be detained if arrested . The infamous police killings of African Americans that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement continue to this day.

What De Santis wants – to get schools and universities to teach a pasteurized version of history that doesn’t expose the horrors of slavery and segregation, the injustices of sexism, or discrimination against the LGBTQ community – is not a new idea.

Before the Civil War, even white churches preached that slavery was sanctioned by the Bible, that it was not immoral to own black people and treat them as property. This false prophecy helped arm the slave owners and contributed to the rebellion that led to the civil war.

After the Civil War, the plantation class in the defeated Southern states rose up against Reconstruction, which aimed to give equal rights to freed slaves. The Klan unleashed terror on black people and their allies. The Southern elite organized systematic resistance to the emerging coalitions and governments. When federal troops withdrew, they enforced segregation in the South, an apartheid that conservative Supreme Court justices hailed by inverting the meaning of the 14th Amendment in Plessy v. Ferguson.

At the same time, a new history school was created that taught the myth of the “lost cause,” arguing that the Southern states seceded to uphold state rights, not to defend slavery. History books have been rewritten to eradicate the Klan’s terrorism and smear the reform effort by labeling reformers corrupt crooks.

Once again we are seeing a reaction to reforms that have made America more equal. Once again, ambitious politicians are realizing they could benefit from fanning the flames of segregation, nativism, and cultural warfare. Once again, right-wing Supreme Court justices have turned the law on its head, denuded the Voting Rights Act, undermined affirmative action to open schools and workplaces, invoked the First Amendment to defend gay and lesbian discrimination, and more.

Once again, a conservative church is embracing the new response. And now DeSantis wants to create the legal framework for another historical whitewash of the past.

Donald Trump — railing against immigrants, exploiting racial differences, attacking the “politically correct” — demonstrated his political power. DeSantis follows suit and tries to go a few steps further.

Trump, of course, lost the popular vote for his presidential candidates twice. Most Americans refused to join the new reaction.

But as DeSantis shows, that fight has only just begun, and the fight to make America better has yet to overcome the false prophets of reaction.

Email Rev. Jesse Jackson at [email protected].

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