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Gov. Ron DeSantis works to protect ‘snowflake’ conservatives | Editorial
Is Florida’s governor turning woke?
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters and members of the media after a bill signing on Nov. 18 in Hillsborough County.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters and members of the media after a bill signing on Nov. 18 in Hillsborough County. [ CHRIS O'MEARA | AP ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Dec. 17, 2021

It’s a good thing the state budget is flush because it’s going to cost a pretty penny to buy 22 million participation trophies, one for every resident of Florida. After all, we wouldn’t want anyone to feel bad. That seems to be Gov. Ron DeSantis’ current thinking. He doesn’t want any hurt feelings among his delicate followers. Can’t be too careful. Snowflakes don’t last long in the Florida heat.

At a news conference this week, the governor used an array of the usual rhetorical bogeymen to assure supporters that he wouldn’t let anyone question their brittle sensibilities. He promised to protect kids and grown-ups from “very pernicious ideologies.” He stressed that, “We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other.” Good one, that. We don’t believe in teaching hate, either. Love is the better subject. And just as you love your mother even if she wasn’t perfect, you can love an imperfect country. And knowing America’s imperfections — understanding the good and the bad — can help the next generation of citizens make a great nation better. Learning from your mistakes — and all that. Remember, the preamble of the Constitution says “in order to form a more perfect Union.” It doesn’t say we’re there yet.

When he spoke, the governor expanded his concerns beyond the schools to corporate Florida. He seems to loathe the idea of private businesses training employees in ways they think will help create a cohesive workforce. The government must intervene! “Well, how is it not a hostile work environment to be attacking people based on their race ...?” he asked. We quite agree. Workers of color should feel as secure in the workplace as their white colleagues. The governor sounds, dare we say it, almost “woke.”

That’s not all. “Just understand, when you hear ‘equity’ used, that is just an ability for people to smuggle in their ideology because we don’t need to have those terms,” he said. Sure, he said he was talking about diversity consultants paid to inject evil thoughts into classrooms and workplaces. But as usual the rhetoric was so light on details that you’d be pardoned for wondering whether talk of “home equity” or “stockholder equity” could arouse suspicions. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, could his constant concern about “equity” mean his real fear is capitalism?

And it’s not just the governor who has awakened to wokeness. Florida Rep. Randy Fine and Sen. Joe Gruters have filed bills that target the teaching of any subject that makes an individual feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex” or any other form of “race or sex scapegoating or race or sex stereotyping.” This from the same political party that not long ago introduced a transphobic bathroom bill. Who knew they are now woke to the welfare of LGBTQ+ students and every student of color? Good on them.

Maybe there’s hope for Florida yet.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.

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