Florida Represents Hope for Freedom of Thought - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Florida Represents Hope for Freedom of Thought
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Jan 22, 2023 (Fox News/YouTube)

WASHINGTON — I have long held to the belief that the most conformist institutions in America are its universities. More recently, I have come to the conclusion that high schools are joining the ranks of universities in regimenting thought among their students. Now, more alarmingly, I have come to the conclusion that grammar schools are turning out goose-stepping student bodies, and even kindergarteners are getting in on the act.

The student bodies of our country are not being indoctrinated in the Marxist-Leninist claptrap or the fascist bunkum or even nudism, though I am told that the lunatic who recently assaulted Nancy Pelosi’s poor husband with a hammer was under the spell of the shirtless and pantless ecdysiasts. The assemblage of ideas, idiot yells, far-fetched notions, and idle daydreams is the working of a new ideology called wokeness. Wokeness has no bible like Mein Kampf or The Communist Manifesto or even The Three Little Pigs. My guess is that not even a woke acolyte would want his or her name attached to a woke undertaking, but they advance wokeness in the schools nonetheless.

Few students can escape its allures. The result is that even a federally funded penal institution has more free thinkers within its walls than a university. Take as an example Harvard University. I can well imagine that if the incarcerated population of, say, Rikers Island was polled on who their favorite candidate would be in 2024, the result would be more diverse than if a similar poll was conducted at Harvard or Yale or the University of California, Berkeley. But my mind wanders. All of a sudden, there is hope for freedom of thought in America, and it comes from, of all places, sunny Florida.

A few days ago, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, made a powerful case for freedom of thought not only in our high schools and grammar schools but even in our universities. The governor said, “We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think.” And he went on, “but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them.” The governor had already rejected an advanced curriculum from the College Board that featured nonsense such as “Black Queer Studies,” “‘Postracial’ Racism,’” and “the case for reparations.” The very names of these courses suggest that “an agenda [was] being imposed on them.” That is to say, on the students.

Practically everything about how educators treat students in our education system is Orwellian, and DeSantis and others like him are leading a pushback campaign. Educators talk of their goals for “diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.” Their acronym for these programs is “DEI.” Yet there is nothing diverse, equitable, or inclusive about such programs. DeSantis’ solution is to defund them. In December, DeSantis called upon public colleges in his state to report all spending related to DEI programs. Presumably, their budgets will be eliminated or drastically cut back, along with critical race theory, which has also crept into the Florida system. Such programs cost Florida’s taxpayers over $35 million annually and have little to do with education. They are political. Not only that, but they are the political residue of left-wingers who have been beaten repeatedly at the polls.

DeSantis is often mentioned as a frontrunner in the race for the presidency in 2024. Well, if this is a sign of his ambition, I think he has picked at least one issue that is popular with Republicans, independents, and even Democrats. If he will be as wise in picking other issues, he is going to be a tough man to beat. Taxpayers are tired of having their children return from school each day mouthing the opinions of the Left.

Glory to Ukraine!


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R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
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R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief ofThe American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: The Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn’t Work: Social Democracy’s Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery. He makes frequent appearances on national television and is a nationally syndicated columnist, whose articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, National Review, Harper’s, Commentary, The (London) Spectator, Le Figaro (Paris), and elsewhere. He is also a contributing editor to the New York Sun.
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