When Ron DeSantis uses the Miami Freedom Tower as a backdrop, you know something’s coming other than an announcement of upcoming innovations. It’s too gratuitously symbolic. So, that’s where he announced that he was approving a bill (HB395) that will require public school students to observe “Victims of Communism Day” on Nov. 7 each year. In vintage DeSantis hyperbole, he labeled it a “blockbuster day for freedom.” Also under the law, a curriculum about various Communist regimes throughout history will be added to high school U.S. government courses.
But it might be perversely good news for those nostalgic for the Cold War McCarthy era and its Red Scare and Lavender Scare witch hunts. Could “Americanism vs. Communism” social studies classes be resurrected in Florida high schools? Could we see shout-outs to the Johns’ Committee for protecting Floridians from subversive activities–if not disingenuous, would-be autocrats? Nothing, we are effectively reminded by Gov. DeSantis, is now off the table when the political agenda is the calculated misappropriation of “freedom” and “liberty” in the portentous era of Trump and his cult followers.