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Col. Klink and the Orlando Nazis | Column
Where have you gone Gov. DeSantis?
Werner Klemperer (center) as Col. Klink in the TV show Hogan's Heroes.
Werner Klemperer (center) as Col. Klink in the TV show Hogan's Heroes. [ Times files ]
Published Feb. 10

Poor Ron DeSantis. The Wee Willie Winkie of Tallahassee was miffed. This hapless chap cannot catch a break.

Daniel Ruth.
Daniel Ruth. [ Tampa Bay Times ]

There they were, a bunch of redneck neo-Nazis tormenting and attacking a Jewish college student in Orlando, followed by hanging vile anti-Semitic banners over an Interstate 4 overpass.

And before you knew it, some folks wondered if perchance the governor of Florida might find time out of his busy schedule trying to get all those pointy-headed university professors to stop talking about racism in American history to acknowledge Nazis running around Orlando are, well, you know — bad.

Instead the Blue Boy of the Apalachee Parkway saw an evil plot afoot in an attempt to lure him into a trap that risked espousing an original thought. And he was having none of it.

Reacting to calls from the likes of, well Jewish people, who might have appreciated their governor decrying Nazis, not exactly a Sir Thomas More moment, DeSantis stood foursquare in not taking the bait.

Instead DeSantis lashed out, accusing those wanting him to condemn Nazis as an effort to “… smear me as if I had something to do with it.” Now there was a profile in gibberish for you.

Ahem, we’re talking Nazis here. How tough can it be to take a bold stand against Nazis? This shouldn’t require conducting focus group research.

Nobody, not even the harshest critics of the Trump Mini Me, had suggested in any way that he was responsible for a gaggle of goober goose-steppers on the loose in Orlando.

This is Florida after all, where all manner of white supremacists, Klan types, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, gun nuts and your general run of the mill omnibus crazies are more common than palm trees.

It is sort of part of the job description that when horrible things happen in the state people look to the governor to at the very least say a horrible thing has happened. Too subtle?

Indeed, DeSantis took the soft-ball opportunity to suggest these Third Reich rednecks were a disgrace to humanity, by pivoting to attack Democrats for trying to use the presence of a bunch of Bund bozos in Orlando as “… some type of political issue. We’re not playing that game.”

But governor, could you at least play with a full deck? Just asking.

Even the governor’s crack spokeswoman Christina Pushaw couldn’t resist channeling her inner Baghdad Bob, wondering, “Do we even know they’re Nazis?” Perhaps they were actually Democrats posing as Adolf Hitler to embarrass the governor?

Uh, Ms. Pushaw, your boss does an able enough job embarrassing himself all on his own, without the help of Democrats.

What would it have taken to convince her? Did the Orlando oberfuhrers need to annex Yeehaw Junction to establish their bona fides as jack-booted boobs?

You can rest easy, gentle reader, eventually Pushaw later said activities of the Sunshine State Swastikas crowd were “disgusting.” Whew, now we can sleep a little better.

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You know a hurricane could hit the state and Tallahassee might be a tad slow in mobilizing its emergency protocols. Fair enough. A mass shooting could occur and it might take a while to gather all the facts before a governor makes a public statement. Fine. Stuff happens.

But a sitting governor and his public relations flack ought to be able to react pretty quickly when Nazis in Orlando are assaulting Jews and hanging anti-Semitic banners over an interstate highway.

Perhaps DeSantis, R-Why Is Everybody Always Picking On Me?, was merely getting in touch with his inner more sensitive, caring Percy Dovetonsils in taking some time to condemn Nazis.

After all, Governor Snowflake has been leading the charge during this year’s legislative session, otherwise known as “Take A Lobbyist To Work,” to inveigh against stuff like critical race theory being taught in the state’s classrooms because learning about the history of systemic racism in the nation’s history might hurt someone’s (see: white people) feelings.

Rather, or so the thinking goes, if there is racism, or anti-Semitism, or any other form of hate, it is hardly institutional but merely the dark handiwork of the individual.

There was no red-lining by banks. It was all “It’s A Wonderful Life’s” Mr. Potter’s fault.

There was no widespread Jim Crow racism. It was all George Wallace’s plot. He’s the one. He’s the one you want.

There was no institutional segregation either. It was all Strom Thurmond’s doing.

And maybe there were really no Nazis afoot in Orlando. It was all Col. Klink’s malevolence. It was Col. Klink all along.

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