Is Florida the Fourth Reich?

A couple of weekends ago,  Nazis demonstrated in Orlando. According to media reports, they screamed antisemitic slogans and threats against Blacks and Hispanics, waved swastikas, and assaulted a couple of people who stopped to argue with them.

According to Newsweek, Twitter users posted videos of the neo-Nazi rally and reported the slurs.

And a Florida resident posted to Daily Kos, 

In addition, the Nazis protested at several overpasses on I-4 toward Disney, with Nazi flags and a large “Let’s Go Brandon” sign with swastikas. Another one said, “Vax the Jews.” This protest followed another one in Mount Dora earlier. The fact is that antisemitic incidents in Florida rose by 40% since 2020. The undeniable rise of antisemitic demonstrations in Florida even got Sen. Rick Scott’s attention, and he condemned them in a tweet. Democrats, including the candidates for governor and senator, strongly condemned the Nazis. However, the two incumbents they are running against, Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio, have remained silent. 

It’s bad enough that DeSantis refused to condemn the demonstrations; his spokesperson was worse. She tweeted “How do we even know they’re Nazis?” and suggested they might  have been Democrats “pretending.”

If this were a one-off, DeSantis’ silence could be attributed to oversight, overwork…something. But no one who has followed DeSantis and his enablers in the Florida Legislature is likely to give him the benefit of the doubt. (There’s a reason The New Republic made him their “Scoundrel of the Year.”)

A Miami newspaper recounted “Eight Times DeSantis ‘Accidentally’ Did Racist Stuff.”That article was written during DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign, and started as follows:

After enough racism scandals involving a particular political candidate, you’d think everyone might just admit that person is simply racist. Yet a whole lot of people — from bad-faith conservative pundits to easily fooled reporters — continue offering excuses for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis’ infamous statement on Fox News that Andrew Gillum would “monkey… up” Florida.

At best, that gaffe implies DeSantis, who is a seasoned lawyer with degrees from Harvard and Yale, is so ignorant he doesn’t know it’s a really bad idea to use the word “monkey” when talking about a black person.

But claiming his use of the word was a simple accident is also hard to believe because DeSantis has a clear, repeated pattern of making offensive and/or outright racist statements, hanging out with racists, and defending other people who are also racists. It’s past time that DeSantis — long considered the most right-wing Florida congressman who is running on a platform of fealty to Donald Trump and pure anti-immigrant bile — lost the benefit of the doubt.

The article enumerated the reasons DeSantis isn’t entitled to the benefit of the doubt: among other things, he spoke at a Muslim-bashing event alongside Milo Yiannopoulos and Steve Bannon, defended a supporter who advocated”bringing back the hanging tree,” leveled a slur at AOC’s ethnicity, and was moderator of a Facebook group that was a haven for racist memes.

Since he’s been governor, of course, he has worked hard to out-Trump Trump. His anti-vaccination, anti-mask, anti-mandate efforts have received wide publicity, but those efforts are arguably not targeted at minorities–they’re unforgivably dangerous to the health of all Florida citizens (especially the elderly, and Florida has more than its share of elderly folks.)

Other measures are more clearly bigoted.

 DeSantis and Republicans in the state legislature have joined the campaign  against what DeSantis calls”woke” schools. As this Washington Post article describes it:

As part of the “stop-woke” agenda of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Florida lawmakers are now considering bills that would allow almost anyone to object to any instruction in public school classrooms. DeSantis wants to give people the right to sue schools and teachers over what they teach based on student “discomfort.” The proposed legislation is far-reaching and could affect even corporate human resources diversity training.

While the legislation mirrors national efforts to ban critical race theory in schools, the debate in Florida has turned especially raw and emotional, a testament to how central multiculturalism is to the state’s identity. Many parents and teachers — who note that critical race theory is not taught in Florida’s public schools and is already banned under state law — fear the legislation would force teachers to whitewash history, literature and religion courses.

 In Florida, more than 1 in 5 residents are foreign-born and nearly half the population is Latino, Black or Asian American. That might explain DeSantis’ multiple new voting restrictions.

DeSantis and GOP lawmakers have also advanced a bill opponents are calling “don’t say gay.” It would effectively forbid classroom discussions of sexual orientation.

 One proponent of the “anti-woke” bills gives the racist game away: “To say there were slaves is one thing, but to talk in detail about how slaves were treated, and with photos, is another.” 

It is indeed.


  1. I haven’t read this yet, but do I want to? We leave for Florida in 3 hours to visit my husband’s sister. Im already nervous enough.

  2. The trucker blockades (that may be spreading from Canada to other nations) illustrate what a crazy dangerous period we are living through. So much Anger + so much STUPID. How does this resolve? Rand Paul and the Republican crazies are PROMOTING it. What possible good can come from promoting that? Revolution?

  3. My sister lives in FL too and I won’t visit her. I’ve never been to Disney World either. I really want to go especially during winter but alas, it’s Flor-i-doh.

  4. Orlando is not the best place to be protesting against Jews. They would have more impact along the East Coast down toward Miami.

    But Rednecks in Florida…we called them “crackers” aren’t the most brilliant crowd around. As I remember, the smaller communities like Apopka, which surrounded Orlando, were pockets of the KKK.

    I suppose the shrinking number of white crackers in Florida could be whipped up to protest against anything they feel threatens their ever-shrinking numbers. The last I heard, most of them cashed out and moved further North into the Deep South.

    Honest to goodness, they’d feel at home in most of Indiana’s communities.

  5. Regarding DeSantis, Cruz and those Republicans sitting mute and silent in Congress, a legal term fits here; “He who is silent appears to consent.”

    “A Miami newspaper recounted “Eight Times DeSantis ‘Accidentally’ Did Racist Stuff.” That term reminds me of years ago when my young son would get caught in a lie; he would admit he “told a mistake”. The “accidents” and “mistakes” told by the current Republican party can never be totaled up for a final count as they continue daily. If only the groups of “antis”, those the party is against, would vote for Democrats in upcoming elections; we would sweep the board and advance our current slim majority. Which incidentally is temporarily NOT a majority in the Senate due to the Senator hospitalized after surgery for a stroke which has him sidelined for 4 to 6 weeks. We are in a precarious position with the retirement of a Supreme Court justice at this time with McConnell’s Republicans blocking any hearing on any candidate named by President Biden. The “timing” of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and unfortunate Senator who is hospitalized has Trump back in action regarding his run for president, with his Republican party taking advantage of the current Democratic disadvantage. We can’t let ourselves be distracted by the dangers Florida poses. Beyond here there be dragons!

  6. I read yesterday’s blog post late, but would I be able to sue a religious based charter school because the religious based teaching causes my student “discomfort”? Or do these rules only apply to public schools?

    Todd, Cracker is a derogatory term coined by POC to counter the n… word. It has almost as much baggage as any label you can use and stereotyping is the first step to discrimination.

  7. My biggest concern about these new laws is that I’m not certain our current Supreme Court would find these laws unconstitutional.

  8. Florida is a vulnerable target for many reasons. The state attracts visitors from all around the world that provides a big stage for organized protest. The state’s dismal performance during the pandemic verified by local health authorities places Florida in the cross hairs of international bio terrorists for maximum impact on civilian losses without firing one bullet. Faux Nazis are the least of our 21st Century homeland security issues.

  9. It is a fight for the soul of the nation. One contestant are the authoritarians who are bluntly in search of power and recruit whoever, however they can as soldiers to support them just as the Kings of old in their castles recruited serfs and soldiers. They don’t worry at all about recruiting tactics, the truth holds no part of their plans. They just say and do what works, but authoritarians attract others who live on power.

    The fact is that is not how the country got to its place in the world. It’s also not what the Constitution aspires us to. Victory by authoritarians would add the US to Russia and China and North Korea. No wonder the world is worried.

    The question is, is that how humans adapt to the times bearing down on us, times of chaos of our own doing with peaking population and weather and sea level increasingly at odds with civilization.

    Perhaps this is the panic and fighting for the lifeboats.

  10. Your post, Pete, resonates with what I believe, also. The pandemic has been a very significant but deadly litmus test on our nation’s readiness to face an unrelenting enemy that cares less about anyone’s politics, race or religious creed. If you live in a state with the highest per capita losses during the pandemic, you should be very concerned:

  11. “Cracker” !

    Did someone in the comments actually use that word? OMG, I never thought I’d read that here. Wow. That takes cajones!

  12. Aging Girl,

    Yes. Todd trotted that word out. For those who don’t know the complete pejorative of that word, it’s short for “whip cracker”, you know, that thing that slave holders used to keep their labor force in line. Is it any wonder, then, that Republicans – especially southern Republicans – are so opposed to labor unions.

    DeSantis is proof-positive that getting degrees from Yale and Harvard or being a lawyer does not graduate someone from being a hate-based, racist bigot. All that “education” did was allow him to become corrupt, a Republican (mostly the same thing) and a total embarrassment to the good people of Florida…if not all of mankind to boot. This dreadful wretch would have fit in perfectly with Hitler’s police – by any name you choose.

    Well done, Florida. You really know how to pick the worst among you to be governor.

  13. Is it appropriate to infer a correlation between a state’s performance during the pandemic and propensity of per capita vulnerability to state authorized denialism? What contributed most to the rise of Nazism during pre-war Germany?

    Sheila wrote: “His (Santos) anti-vaccination, anti-mask, anti-mandate efforts have received wide publicity, but those efforts are arguably not targeted at minorities–they’re unforgivably dangerous to the health of all Florida citizens …”

    Is the dismantling of current policy by sowing discord at times a deception to lead naive people to believe a politician is a champion of anti-authoritarian rule? Even if the consequences result in the loss of more than 900,000 fellow citizens?

    What evidence do we need to witness to see through what really is “the Big Lie” that matters most?

    The candidate we need in 2024, if not now in the mid term, will be one who speaks with conviction with a compelling focus on ENDURING VALUES, VACCINES and VOTES to rebuild a more resilient future for the next generation.

  14. in florida,the amount of retired folks,from other states are a key to the republican plan.apease them,but keep them out of the spotlight. many from the new england states,who follow each other to warmer climes. many are the retiries who saved and went south with union pensions and retirement funds. a tax haven also. some may speakout,most keep quiet,and shrug it off. not wanting to rock thier boat,and see those taxing liberals gain another office.deathsantis is just apeasing them for gain,and many others.ive spent many a mile hauling out of florida,its not trucker friendly,and I have been pushed off the road by cars who demand the road to,themselves.
    i rate it as the worst state to operate any truck in,and throw in law enforcements attitude of the trucks always wrong…its far from pretty when ya step beyond the tourists communes. the white folk literally demand they rule. wages for the average joe/jane below the natl average. industry that make floridas bell ring,run by ruling class politics.low wages to keep the people believing this is the way the world is. the way people drive there makes its own statement,we dont care about your world,mine is first..

  15. I have a house in North Naples, Florida, one of many surrounding a 57-acre lake. I left there when the pandemic began for one reason: its governor; one DeSantis, a racist who aspires to higher office but is literally killing thousands of Floridians and tourists with his primitive view of the science and data provided to us by the medical community – and I haven’t been back since. I will vote absentee for whoever his Democratic opponent turns out to be, and if he is reelected I will make one more trip to Naples – to engage a broker to sell my house and then seek my winter warmth elsewhere, like Costa Rica, Maui or Kona.

    Meanwhile and before the possibility of such trip to Florida, I expect to enjoy a summer of Yankee warmth with travel, including a July trip to Cooperstown, New York, there to witness the installation of my now deceased cousin, Gilbert Hodges, into the Baseball Hall of Fame; after which my daughter and I expect to run down to Long Island and visit relatives there, all in anticipation of the November election, which will determine my future residency in the “Sushine State.”

    DeSantis doesn’t belong within a mile of Washington D.C., nor even Tallahassee, and his failure to condemn the Nazi March in Orlando (among other such atrocities) tells us all we need to know. There are lots of beer halls in Florida, but no Munich. Perhaps he’ll pull off his putsch in Jacksonville.

  16. It is clear that Gov. ‘Deathsentence’ and way too many other contenders for public office have reached the conclusion that the majority of American voters are devoid of education, morality, spirituality, and any sense of humanity.

  17. “Crackers” actually originated as a term for ox and cattle drivers – referencing their cracking of whips to move and direct the animals.

  18. Gerald ,
    I am curious about the people living in the Naples housing development where your home is. I know of many Hoosiers that winter at Naples and they are all die-hard republicans. Were you a lone democrat surrounded by republicans?

  19. No, there are some Democrats in our resort but you are right; the retirees are mostly Republicans, as is Collier County, which is 2-1 Republican. I suspect without knowing that the ratio is worse in our park. We started a Democratic Club in the park some years ago but I haven’t been there for a while and don’t even know if the club is still in existence. One would think that it would take more than to have an R beside your name in order to get elected, like for instance the current governor, who should have an N (for Nazi) beside his name but yet garners millions of votes from die hard Republicans and Fox-infected Democrats and Independents.

    We have quite a few CEOs who live in Naples and have private that take them to work in New York Monday mornings and return Friday evenings. One morning I was chatting with a Republican neighbor from Dayton, Ohio, when such a jet flew by and told him he was paying for it, explaining that the trip up and down the coast and the salaries paid pilots and and the stewardesses who served the CEO coffee or spirts (including the coffee and spirits) as well as the plane itself (over time via depreciation) were “ordinary business expenses” and deductible to the CEO, and that he (my Buckeye neighbor) and I were paying what such zillionaires should be paying when he could fly commercial. My neighbor said he never thought of it that way – and I believe him. He was and is a victim of Republican zillionaire propaganda about high taxes – from those who frequently pay no taxes! GRRRR! I haven’t been in Naples since early 2020 so I don’t know how our little club is doing. I hope it is still in existence. . .

  20. Gerald,
    That was some eye opening job commuter news. Those CEOs most likely pay little to no personal income taxes. I imagine they use the tax scheme of having the company pay them a minimum wage of $15K at most and then borrow a few million from their company for living expenses. Then they can write off the interest on the company loans and the company can write off those millions as a business expense. That is how they can get tax refunds on money they never paid to the IRS in the first place.

  21. MoJo – because Fox has cable and streaming news sources locked up and they would never run a story about that.

  22. Of course DeSantis and Rubio are silent. They only speak when they have something stupid to say.

  23. This tax deference to the executive class has been going on for decades. When the Democratic Party has been elected to Congress and the White House as a majority, why no action against such deference?

    Is the party all hat and no cattle?

  24. Gerald,
    You better start packing. People are flooding
    to Florida from high tax states with cash in their pockets ready to buy.
    I’m sure you’ll make quite a hefty profit on your Naples place.
    Regardless of how this octogenarian group feels, DeSantis is liberals worst nightmare. He’s the GOP rising star and he’s young!
    Covid paranoia is OVER in FL.
    Just visited there- people are happy – out walking in the warm sun – yoga by the ocean- dining out with friends and living their retirement years to the fullest. The economy is flourishing and you see Teslas in abundance.
    There will be plenty of happy people to fill the spots left by the disgruntled.

  25. At Jack … you are the only truck driver I know of who frequents Sheila’s online column. I pay much respect to the truck drivers at home and abroad. 90% observe courtesy of the road. The Teamsters have come out to voice strong opposition to the so called Freedom Convoy blocking surface arteries into Ottawa and at the border.

    What say you?

  26. A “Note from Florida:”
    There is the “Don’t say gay,” bill…about which I’ve called my state senator, here in Florididia, and there is another in the works, #1055,
    which would allow cameras, and microphones in classrooms, also a crazed thing. I’m going to call about that one tomorrow.
    Florida may WELL BE the “Fourth Reich,” sadly. Former Gov. Scott, who puts out a sickeningly “sweet” portrait of himself, engaged in
    serious voter suppression, which allowed DeSantis to win the post by only 36,000 votes. Scott oversaw the disqualifying of 98,000 voters with the
    last name of Johnson-which tends to be common among African-Americans, as I have read, helping to pave the way for this rancid human-like thing.
    Yes, Joann, Apopka even showed up, in “The Warmth of Other Suns, The Epic Story of America’s Mass Migration,” by Isabel Wilkerson.
    It was the place from which one of the 6 people whose journeys out of the South were detailed in the book about that migration, had to leave
    QUICKLY, or most probably be killed by the sheriff later on the very day he literally snuck out of town.
    When DeathSantis makes a “mistake” as referred to above, it is either only a “mistake” in having allowed his true perspective to jump out, or it is
    a clear “signal” to the many “deplorables” here that they are loved. I have previously mentioned the silver-haired grandmother-type I saw, last year, wearing a
    “PROUD DEPLORABLE” t shirt, right?
    This all makes me want to return to N.J., except that the fools there, elected, and then re-elected Christie-on-the-beach!
    So, does Indiana’s “worst” state legislature, have competition?

  27. FYI “cracker” is used correctly here by Todd. It is not the same term in Florida as was in common use at one time as a pejorative for white people by black people responding to the N word.

    Someone else here mentioned it above, but at one time much of Florida was cattle ranch and free range, and “crackers” were literally the guys on horseback cracking their whips to herd the animals, much like cowboys in the west.

    In modern times in Florida it essentially means country people, identifiable by their unique form of deep south accent, and north of Lake Okeechobee and outside of the retirement communities and the cities they comprise much of the population.

  28. Nancy – Yes, and the zillionaires probably take the interest charged on their company loans for personal expenses as a deduction, and overworked IRS auditors who are deliberately underfunded don’t have time or patience to check out such items written up by company accountants, whose salaries are themselves deductible. It’s not surprising that a few years ago Boeing, the recipients of billions in “defense” appropriations every year, not only paid no taxes but got a refund on 11 billion in profits. As I used to jokingly suggest when whining about such as this, “When does the revolution begin?” However, it appears that there are others in high places who aren’t joking (e.g., Rand Paul’s suggestion that the truckers shut down the economy – the libertarian response to high taxes and and other such atrocities. Egad!

  29. Interesting read…including comments. As a multigeneration Floridian, the term “cracker” was generated from early cattlemen, primary industry prior to pineapples, oranges, and tourism.

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