Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has emerged as a pacesetter for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He desires Florida to be the place the place woke involves die, and as president would undoubtedly need the identical for the nation. Nonetheless, a federal court docket decide has derailed that plan, prohibiting DeSantis from imposing the elements of Florida’s Cease WOKE Act that bar Florida’s educators from expressing some viewpoints in college school rooms, calling the legislation “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. Immediately Florida is thought for its seashores, tropical local weather, citrus fruit and senior residents. That’s good, however numerous locations all over the world share these traits.
What DeSantis is providing Florida after which the nation is a chance to uniquely rebrand itself. It might be nationally, possibly even internationally, acknowledged because the cemetery for wokeness. There is no such thing as a different nation or state that might make that declare.
Right here’s how we might help make the governor’s aspiration a actuality.
Final 12 months, DeSantis signed laws making the destruction of historic monuments a felony. Nonetheless, for the reason that homicide of George Floyd, 31 states, together with each blue states like California, Massachusetts and New York and purple states like Indiana, South Carolina, and Texas, in addition to Florida, have wokenly eliminated 377 Accomplice memorials and monuments. The worth tag for his or her removing and destruction or storage has assorted from $2,000 to $2,000,000 apiece. The social price has been far increased when it comes to protests, threats of violence and deepening divisions in already politically frayed communities.
Such prices might be slashed by taking a leaf from DeSantis’ playbook. He shipped refugees legally within the U.S. 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 have been the refugees on Martha’s Winery.
This could be a win/win for everybody. The woke throughout the nation may eliminate their politically incorrect memorials with out the sturm und drang historically related to their removing. DeSantis would obtain a unprecedented reward enabling him to attain his desires for Florida. What might be a extra tangible solution to display his dedication to eradicating woke, which is outlined as alertness to injustice in society, particularly referring to race, than adorning the governor’s residence and the grounds of the governor’s mansion with statues and memorials to slaveholders, racists and insurgent leaders?
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It is a reward 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 develop into extra delicate to social injustice, that they’ll proceed to raze their memorials, which they will proceed to ship to DeSantis.
Accomplice memorials might be just the start. There are additionally monuments to anti-Semites, segregationists and authors and educators that might be eliminated and despatched to DeSantis. The chances are mind-boggling.
With a whole lot of memorials on the governor’s mansion, DeSantis, who’s financially punishing Disney for criticizing his “Don’t Say Homosexual” faculty coverage, may open a rival to Disney World constructing on his statue monopoly “Woke Land.”
What child wouldn’t relatively 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 canines; operating via high-pressure hoses on scorching days, or watching the nightly guide burnings? No approach Mickey and Minnie may compete with that.
Right here’s one other winner. Florida is one of 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 could be tantamount to a confession of being mushy 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 could have earned the fitting to remake them: change their shade to funereal black, place the Grim Reaper on the middle, and change 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, wouldn’t that genuinely be Making America Nice Once more?
Levine is president emeritus of Woodrow Wilson Basis and a distinguished scholar of upper schooling at NYU.