The Unbearable Wokeness of His Being

Published: March 14, 2023

By Jim Lichtman
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U.S. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello

The populist liturgy of Ron DeSantis is simple: The Courage to Be Free, the title of his new book.

And it’s more than a little contradiction considering the restrictions the Florida Governor has put in place against corporations, the press and schools’ curriculum.

DeSantis is not Donald Trump. He’s a smarter, sharper and a somewhat, more “acceptable” conservative who believes that rather than telling socially conscience corporations, “How dare you say that,” he says, “you can’t be ‘woke.’”

That’s the new I.D. marker DeSantis uses these days in the culture wars. “Woke” is a more stealthful way of curtailing free speech or whatever he believes is liberal indoctrination.

Last August, Britain’s Independent, wrote that DeSantis “is vowing to fight the Democrats’ ‘woke’ agenda the way he knows best: by repeating the word ‘woke’ over and over.”

For the record, Merriam-Webster defines, “Woke” as an individual or organization that is “actively attentive to important societal facts and issues.” It’s “challenging injustices and racism in our communities and fighting hatred and discrimination wherever it rises,” an example states.

The obvious question: what’s wrong with challenging hate, injustice and discrimination?

As a result of his anti-woke tirades, The Independent says, DeSantis “has eroded his support with independents and Democrats around the nation with his support of the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill which has largely banned the acknowledgment of LGBT+ Americans in Florida public schools, though many in the state continue to support him. The legislation is seen as one of the fiercest attacks against the LGBT+ community by conservatives since the decision of the Supreme Court during Barack Obama’s presidency to protect gay marriage as a right at the federal level.”

DeSantis is an equal opportunity woke-ster as he liberally wags his finger at “‘woke’ Chicago,” “‘woke’ CEOs,” “‘woke’ business,” “woke’ ideology,” and my favorite: “the left’s ‘woke’ mind virus.” (Sounds like a Star Wars Jedi mind trick.)

Of all this led Florida’s governor to sign what he calls “The Stop WOKE Act,” “which restricts how race is discussed in schools, colleges and workplaces, and sparked a nationwide debate over censorship, critical race theory and diversity training,” The Tallahassee Democrat reports.

USA Today’s Rex Huppke has the best take on it all.

“The bottom line is DeSantis and other[s] in the Republican Party have made ‘woke’ a ubiquitous slur, attacking everyone from leaders of The Walt Disney Co. to teachers to M&Ms. Why? Apparently because the ‘wokies’ are trying to destroy America by engaging in radical behavior like ‘promoting understanding,’ ‘thinking about others’ and ‘making the world a slightly less awful place for people who historically haven’t had much say in how things work.’”

But it’s DeSantis’s “sledgehammer” approach to Free Speech that has the greatest potential for harm as a New York Times editorial makes clear.

“A homeowner gets angry at a county commission over a zoning dispute and writes a Facebook post accusing a local buildings official of being in the pocket of developers.

“A right-wing broadcaster criticizing border policies accuses the secretary of homeland security of being a traitor.

“A parent upset about the removal of a gay-themed book from library shelves goes to a school board meeting and calls the board chair a bigot and a homophobe.

“All three are examples of Americans engaging in clamorous but perfectly legal speech about public figures that is broadly protected by the Constitution. The Supreme Court, in a case that dates back nearly 60 years, ruled that even if that speech might be damaging or include errors, it should generally be protected against claims of libel and slander. All three would lose that protection under a bill that is moving through the Florida House and is based on longstanding goals of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“The bill goes much further than this attempt to hobble the press. It makes it clear that the new defamation rules would also apply to any single ‘utterance on the internet,’ which could mean a tweet or a Facebook post written by anyone, or ‘any one presentation to an audience,’ which could include statements made at school board hearings and other public meetings.”

My take: “Woke” is the new McCarthyism. However, instead of falsely labeling American citizens as communists, DeSantis smears corporations, cities and liberals as a bunch of “wokies” who want to brainwash you and your children.

I’m hoping Americans have the courage to wake-up to the hooey of  “woke” and turn off the DeSantis channel.

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