One of Florida governor Ron DeSantis‘s favorite little mottos is “Florida is where woke goes to die.” In fact, a better, more accurate motto would be “Ron DeSantis’s Florida is where free speech goes to die, unless you’ve agreed to the governor’s list of preapproved talking points, like that LGBTQ+ people don’t exist, white people are and have always been awesome, and nonwhite people have nothing to complain about.” Defenders of the governor will not like this tweak, as conservatives absolutely love to claim free speech is under attack from the left but, as the evidence shows, it’s true.

The most recent example of DeSantis’s war on free speech, which, of course, is inexplicably linked to his bigoted viewpoints, involves an AP African American studies course. Earlier this month, DeSantis sent a letter to the College Board, which is in charge of Advanced Placement classes, informing it that the the class is “contrary to Florida law” and “significantly lacks educational value.” He added: “Should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content” Florida’s Education Department would “be willing to reopen the discussion.” On Friday, Florida Education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. wrote on Twitter: “Florida rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law.” (Not unsurprisingly NPR reports that this is false, and CRT is not included in the curriculum.)

On Monday, DeSantis got into more specifics, saying at a press conference: “We want education, not indoctrination. If you fall on the side of indoctrination, we’re going to decline, if it’s education, then we will do…this course on Black history, what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids. And so when you look to see they have stuff on intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that’s a political agenda and…that’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards. We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them. When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.”

Setting aside the fact that intersectionality is absolutely a part of Black history, DeSantis’s claim that he totally believes in “teaching kids facts” rings extremely hollow, and that’s because during a campaign debate last fall, he argued that students should not be told the US was “built on stolen land” because it’s “not true.”

Bess Levin

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