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DeSantis’ war on CRT and DEI is racist and pointless

Apr 18, 2023

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has earned a reputation as one of the GOP’s preeminent culture warriors. He introduced legislation to prohibit Florida’s public colleges and universities from teaching critical race theory and also pushed to cut funding for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs at state schools.

Straight Arrow News contributor Ruben Navarrette argues that DeSantis’ war on CRT and DEI is racist and ultimately pointless. Why? Navarrette says he’s catering to white voters, a shrinking demographic group that will soon be the minority.

Suddenly, it seems race talk makes Republicans nervous. What? That’s absurd. Like the GOP hasn’t spent the last 50 years talking about race, trying to scare up votes from white folks by offering them protection from Black and Brown folks. That’s a major part of the Republican schtick. Crack it open and you get your tax cuts, strong defense, and racial fear-mongering. That’s the GOP, folks. There ain’t nothing else. 

Now all of a sudden, the American people are supposed to swallow the fairy tale that Republicans have found religion and gone colorblind. They’re better people, is that it? That doesn’t sound white. The way DeSantis tells it, any attempt to promote — now you might want to clutch those pearls again — diversity, equity, inclusion is just “political window dressing” in order to “wither on the vine” without funding. That’s his plan. The governor hopes to put before the legislature a bill that would strip public colleges’ and universities’ funding for DEI and CRT programs. Later in a statement, the governor’s office characterized these initiatives as discriminatory and divisive. That’s bull. Why Governor, if I didn’t know better, I might think that you and other white Floridians have guilty consciences and perhaps a lot to atone for. And so you want to turn the page, naturally. 

Instead, you might want to look down the road and into the future. By 2042, whites are expected to become a statistical minority in the United States. It wouldn’t hurt for whites to study up on people who don’t look like them. Florida is going to experience this phenomenon way before that. In 2020, whites made up just 51.5% of the state’s population. The U.S. Census predicts this figure will dip below 50% in the next few years. You know who already knows this? White people and slimy politicians like DeSantis, who wants the votes of those white people.

The recent GOP attack on DEI is R-A-C-I-S-T. I know, at least try to look surprised. The political party that gave America Nixon’s Southern Strategy, Reagan’s Welfare Queen, Bush 41’s Willie Horton ad, and Trump’s depiction of Mexicans as rapists and drug traffickers, has now set its sights on colleges, with courses and programs that promote — now brace yourself, because this is really terrible —Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

For Republicans, whose party is still, believe it or not in 2023, overwhelmingly white, this is the unholy trilogy. The way they see it, all this emphasis on DEI, not just at colleges but also in corporations, organizations and foundations, why it’s just an elaborate scheme to allow people of color a chance to get even with white people for historical slights, real and imagined. In January, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the GOP self-appointed culture warrior, announced plans to block state colleges and universities in the Sunshine State from having programs on diversity, equity and inclusion. Also in DeSantis’ sights is the concept of critical race theory, an obscure mode of teaching that encourages students to view history, not as a series of isolated one-off events, but in terms of patterns of systemic racism. 

Suddenly, it seems race talk makes Republicans nervous. What? That’s absurd. Like the GOP hasn’t spent the last 50 years talking about race, trying to scare up votes from white folks by offering them protection from black and brown folks. That’s a major part of the Republican schtick. Crack it open and you get your tax cuts, strong defense and racial fear-mongering. That’s the GOP, folks. There ain’t nothing else. 

Now all of a sudden, the American people are supposed to swallow the fairy tale that Republicans have found religion and gone colorblind. They’re better people, is that it? That doesn’t sound white. The way DeSantis tells it, any attempt to promote — now you might want to clutch those pearls again — diversity, equity, inclusion is just “political window dressing” in order to “wither on the vine” without funding. That’s his plan. The governor hopes to put before the legislature a bill that would strip public colleges and universities funding for DEI and CRT programs. Later in a statement, the governor’s office characterize these initiatives as discriminatory and divisive. That’s bull. Why Governor, if I didn’t know better, I might think that you and other white Floridians have guilty consciences and perhaps a lot to atone for. And so you want to turn the page, naturally. 

Instead, you might want to look down the road and into the future. By 2042, whites are expected to become a statistical minority in the United States. It wouldn’t hurt for whites to study up on people who don’t look like them. Florida is going to experience this phenomenon way before that. In 2020, whites made up just 51.5% of the state’s population. The U.S. Census predicts this figure will dip below 50% in the next few years. You know who already knows this? White people and slimy politicians like DeSantis, who wants the votes of those white people. And he’s not the only one. 

In March, the bill DeSantis backs, HB-999. advanced in the state House of Representatives by being voted out of the House Post-Secondary Education and Workforce subcommittee. Now it’s on to the state senate and possibly eventually to DeSantis’ desk for his signature. This whole campaign against DEI is just silly and pointless. Even if those programs on colleges and university campuses go down in flames, nothing is going to change. Well, I mean except Florida’s demographics, that’s definitely going to change. And there’s nothing that DeSantis and other Republicans can do to alter that reality. They should just learn to accept it. Or don’t. Whatever. It doesn’t matter.

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