Well, I Guess We Know What “Wokeness” Is

If we ever thought the current war on “wokeness” isn’t an effort to dumb America down–to keep the kids from learning about times when the country failed to live up to its principles, to keep them from reading books that might stretch their horizons or (horrors!) make them aware of the existence of folks unlike Ma and Pa–Florida is disabusing us of that error.

Ron DeSantis is updating the old lyrics. Remember “How will we keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree”? In Florida, it’s now “How will we keep them in the GOP after they’ve learned to think?” (Indiana’s legislators are singing along…)

Talking Points Memo has the most recent abomination emanating from the sunshine state.

The Florida statehouse launched another strike in Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “anti-woke” war with a new bill this week aiming to hand more control of school administration over to the governor and his political appointees.

House Bill 999, introduced on Tuesday by Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola), proposes to give boards of trustees nearly unanimous power over state university faculty hiring, allow professors’ tenure to be reevaluated “at any time,” remove critical race theory and gender studies from college curricula, and bar spending on diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

The bill also digs in on DeSantis’ obsession with shutting down any educational instruction on race and systemic racism, stating that general education courses must not “suppress or distort” historical events, reference identity politics like critical race theory, or define U.S. history in ways that contradict “universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.” Instead, the courses must “promote the philosophical underpinnings of Western civilization and include studies of this nation’s historical documents, including the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments thereto, and the Federalist Papers.”

Of course, “suppressing and distorting American history” is precisely what this bill–and the “anti-woke” movement– would do.

DeSantis’ administration has actually threatened teachers that they will be charged with felonies if they allow students to check out unapproved library books. His rejection of an AP African American Studies course for “lack[ing] educational merit” (!!) made national headlines (as did the disgraceful acquiescence of the College Board that “corrected” its curriculum.)

Decisions that are typically made with university presidents and boards of trustees in cooperation with faculty and staff – like setting up core curricula and deciding which departments should close, would be handed exclusively over to the board – members of which are appointed by the governor.

What Daniel Gordon, a historian at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author on academic freedom , finds “particularly striking” about the bill is that it doesn’t require trustees to consult university faculty before hiring new professors. “This contradicts a principle, well established by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), that [sic] professors in a given discipline have the expertise needed to select a new faculty member in the discipline,” he told TPM. “Math professors are the people best equipped to assess applications for a professorship in math!”

In January, DeSantis announced plans to defund diversity, equity and inclusion programs in every public university in the state.

If these appalling measures were limited to Florida–if this out-and-proud racism and anti-intellectualism were limited to just one arguably deranged office-holder– it would be bad enough. But as the linked article notes, DeSantis’ “anti-woke” proposals are clearly intended to appeal to a “very specific breed of Trump voter as he mulls a 2024 bid.”

We all know what that “specific breed” believes.

DeSantis is evil, but not stupid. He clearly intends to ride the tide of White Supremacy to the White House, and he just as clearly believes that there are enough voters who share his racism, misogyny and homophobia to put him there.

A 1939 article from the Atlantic said it best.

THE early Americans were determined that education should be free from political control. Being liberals in the original and true sense of the term, they believed in the integrity of the individual as opposed to the despotism of the state. This integrity or dignity of the individual was, of course, basic in democracy. Among other things, it implied the right of the citizenry to think independently, to seek truth honestly, and to determine without political interference what should constitute the education of their children….

It was the experienced judgment of these early liberals that education, religion, and the press should be free from political domination. These were the institutions of thought. They had to be untrammeled if the individual was to be free. Hence it came about that early America produced a peculiar system of education, its outstanding characteristic that it was to be supported and controlled by the people, by parents, by citizens — but not by the state.

I guess our Founders were woke.


  1. Joy on “Reid Out” last night was reporting on the current CPAC situation and it is a “situation” this year; the usual Gaetz/Taylor-Greene, et al, will be in attendance and who isn’t attending may be a good sign of…something…not sure what in the current GOP. Switched to Fox News to see if they were covering the issue but they were deep into a report about Democrats paying people to stay homeless and use their free $1,000 monthly for whatever, they interviewed 2 people who could compete with the stars in that unforgettable long ago movie “Reefer Madness”. They reported how they ate meals then returned to their tents to get high and stay high. The “woke” version is a bill which Oregon passed for aiding homeless people and low income with housing issues. A sidebar reported President Biden laughed while reporting on a mother who lost 2 sons to fentanyl overdoses. I had watched the MSNBC report this morning as President Biden reported Marjorie Taylor Greene blaming him for those two deaths which occurred under Trump’s administration. He did chuckle at her level of ridiculousness. I believe the web site for the bogus reports is RedState.org; it rivals Fox News and we really need to check both sources out to appreciate the value of being among the “woke” at this time.

  2. I suspect that the “woke” people of Florida have not thought through their support for DeSantis’ university reforms. Just what value out in the real world will any Florida university diploma have?

  3. Woke is wanting to know the whole truth and wake up. In America, this means accepting how badly our country treated other races – immigrants of all stripes and slaves.

    It’s hard to treat other people like crap once we know how our Ancestors treated them in the past. Our local oligarchs denied blacks, Chinese, and Jews housing in many neighborhood districts until the 1990s.

    Unwoke = racism.

    When our oligarchs structure society accordingly, it’s called systemic racism.

  4. Even though our country’s Founders and/or early citizens believed that education should be free from political control and not controlled by the state, the state still ensured that dark-skinned people were not allowed to be educated.

    Educated people have that darned habit of being able to think for themselves and the white men in control weren’t about to have any mutiny among the slaves.

  5. For the far right, “woke” is the one syllable version of enlightened, an outcome of liberal education.

  6. Conservatives are in favor of small government, intellectual freedom, and local decision-making….

    Oh, wait a minute. I got mixed up. That’s last year’s script.

    Conservatives are in favor of using the power of any governmental body they control to impose political correctness (of their flavor) on anyone they can bring under their thumb.

    Also, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

    Or is it Eurasia? I keep getting mixed up.

  7. The Blaise Pascal quote would fit very nicely, if it were not that DeSantis is
    not doing this from religious conviction, but from craven political expediency.
    Still, there is some religious background for the idea that an ignorant public is
    easier to manipulate…St. Augustine, I have read, urged the church to not
    educate the populace of his time, for fear that they might be able to think on
    their own.
    I would like to see Pres. Biden, or a spokesperson for him, publicly call this
    garbage out for what it is. Something like “Woke is living in reality, rather than
    in a fairy tale.”

  8. Bravo, Mitch!

    How about, “Woke is living in reality, rather than in a Rupert Murdoch concocted fairy tale.”

    Rupert and Sky News in Australia are ready to launch missiles at China. That should end up well…

  9. The Florida state legislature has decided that the problem is Democrats. A bill has been filed to disallow any organization that supported slavery, which includes the Democratic party. If this bill passes and DeMentis signs it, even the Floridians might just realize what they really voted for, at least I hope they do.

  10. Imagine your healthcare depending on a doctor trained at a DeSantis-ruled university.

  11. Mitch, I like your “Woke is living in reality . . . .” but Maybe we should end it with “rather than in the Handmaids’ Tale”.

  12. I have more experience with the university accreditation standards in New England and the Midwest. But it seems to me that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools needs to take a serious look at whether Florida’s public universities are or will be in violation of critical standards related to academic freedom and shared governance. And they need to speak out. The loss of accreditation is a biggie, as students would no longer qualify for federal financial aid. I hate to see students placed at risk, but the potential loss of a major revenue stream may be the only way to rein in an out-of-control, extremist governor and legislature.

  13. Now you know why I am presently in Naples, Florida, awaiting the closing of the sale of my house here on the lake on St. Patrick’s Day. I will not be governed by a fascist, having spent over two years once upon a time fighting fascism and, I thought, we had succeeded. Ronald DeFascist has proven me wrong. He is the worst governor in the fifty states, and that’s saying something when one considers the governors of South Dakota, Arkansas and Texas, among others.

  14. walking thru a old apartment building,the smells of something cooking,doors open for some stagnate air to possibly flow,caughs and talk,kids running around the hallways half dressed and cloths beyond their days. not peeking or looking in to other lives as i,pass by.theres many diffrent minorities and i being white,a few steps maybe better off,kids i play with polite, often i can see hungry. the inner city maze of concrete again and again repeats the scene,it never changes.the fields of row housing decimated over 50 years,still slum lord owned,and perfected by law. denial sucks desatin,and your buddies pass those laws of lies and deciet to satisfy the ones who follow your hollow path…your billboards say it all, your screwed while we exist..

  15. Miitch:
    hopefully if Biden ever comes around for round two,maybe he’ll finally let loose and tell it
    like it is. its way past time for change.he’ll have little to lose.

  16. Folks get rightfully incensed at the thought of Russia meddling our elections. Why don’t they get equally incensed over Rupert Murdock meddling in our elections? As far as I know, he has not become a citizen of the U.S. and continues to be an Aussie who figured out how to get rich. This is why I don’t watch Fox News, can’t believe a word they say.

  17. “In 1981, Murdoch bought The Times, his first British broadsheet, and, in 1985, became a naturalized US citizen, giving up his Australian citizenship, to satisfy the legal requirement for US television network ownership.”…Wiki

  18. Ranting is fun…wonder if there were lots of ranters in Germany in the 1930’s?

  19. As I looked for coverage one the Supreme Court hearing on the student loan forgiveness program, I realized why this was such big news. It was splashed on the news for several days in a row, that we were going to have news about the news, and then there was going to be news, and then the news itself of the hearing. This was one of the few times that Biden seemed really overstep him self with an executive order.

    Looking back to Desantis and Trump, they do/did this kind of grandstanding thing everyday. It made great headlines. It plays to the base. Will it stand up to a good lawsuit? A don’t think so, but by the time the court strikes it down, they will/were on the a dozen other hot button culture war issues. Nobody even noticed that for all of the grand gestures, nothing really happened because non-woke people don’t seem to have the attention span to remember that this kind of stuff is just performance politics and lacks substance.

    Biden’s overstep got noticed because he is not producing the constant churn of garbage like Desantis/Trump do/did. You’ve got to give Biden credit for trying. Desantis not so much.

    It will be interesting to see if the fascist punishment on Disney will stand up. I’ll bet Disney has some pretty good lawyers.

  20. aberger had the right idea, but it doesn’t go far enough.
    I want to see this issued from universities and employers throughout the country.

    “Seeing that the State of Florida has legislated that their system of public colleges and universities will be modeled after the indoctrination centers of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, we will no longer consider degrees from such institutions as being of any value for admission to advanced studies, or meeting any educational requirements for employment.”

    Yes, I feel sorry for the students, but maybe it will light a fire under their parents.

  21. As you noted, DeSantis would not be able to meet his own standard since “suppressing and distorting American history” is precisely what his legislation would do. Our history books are replete with suppression and distortion of the contributions of African Americans, women, Asians, native Americans, and others to our history. Likewise, our history is long and strong on undermining the high ideals and lofty principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Federalist papers.

    The ACLU should have a field day with this legislation which unfortunately has infected legislatures in Indiana and elsewhere. I’m sending them another check with encouragement to let the lawsuits begin.

Comments are closed.