Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a legislative plan Tuesday that, if taken up wholesale, will have a huge impact on the state’s higher education system. DeSantis, who is expected to run for president in 2024, wants to ban state colleges from hosting programs on diversity, equity and inclusion, and critical race theory. (Reminder: CRT has gone from a term describing a legal theory not actually taught in U.S. grade schools to a euphemism for American history that acknowledges racism and slavery.)
This sounds very much like the desire for a memory hole where the country’s long history of racism and white supremacy is “disappeared” for the benefit of the white and powerful. The rewriting of history for political gain, banning education that would weaken white supremacy, suppression of the opposition … add to this Florida’s new censorship of school libraries and state “retraining” on book collection and it’s hard not to describe this series of moves as neo-fascist. That ideology, of course, relies heavily on tightly maintaining the education of its people in a way that serves its leaders. That education usually promotes a revisionist nationalism, often calling back to idealized “better” times and/or traditions.
The following statements came from DeSantis’s office Tuesday:
“… the legislation will ensure Florida’s public universities and colleges are grounded in the history and philosophy of Western Civilization ….”
“In Florida, we will build off of our higher education reforms by aligning core curriculum to the values of liberty and the Western tradition …."
And yet, headlines from major outlets announcing this news barely batted an eyelash. Some, like the New York Times headline below, felt the crux of the story is actually its impact on DeSantis’s political clout.