November 1, 2022

Gregory Sampson: As American as Mom & Apple Pie?

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Gregory Sampson lives right up the road from the Florida overpass that was the site of an anti-semitic display on a highway overpass (a location, he points out, that has been a site of such behavior in the past). This is not, he points out, the kind of fringe behavior we’ve seen with KKK marches in Skokie. 

But this is something different. This is American racism, as old as the country itself, believing it is time to appear publicly once more with its targets being Black people, Jewish people, Spanish-speaking people from other Western Hemisphere nations, and most recently, the LGBTQ community.

This is American racism directed against our Jewish friends and neighbors with old, tired tropes like the Communist symbol that disappeared with the Soviet Union, a political entity not known for its love of the Jewish people. This is what evil looks like when it appears among us. It goes by many names, you already know them, there is no reason for GOT to give hate groups free publicity.

There is no place for antisemitism in America and that includes Florida. But this is what we get when a political party becomes the home for a desperate minority who fears losing their power and their privilege. That party now bases its political fortunes on indulging the worst fantasies and prejudices of white supremacy.

This is the broader societal trend that manifests itself in new laws and regulations that shut down free speech and the integrity of academic inquiry in our schools with the bans on discussing race, American history that is anything but a white-washed version of actual history, and understandings of gender identity. Understand that these vague laws intend not only to sanitize classroom lessons so only the approved version is explored, but also to chill all expression, school clubs, even private conversations with trusted adults.

It is a waste of time to argue with these hateful people. To tell them that their words and actions are causing higher rates of mental illness, especially depression, in young people with higher incidences of self-harm and suicide will not persuade them. They don’t see this as a problem.

What they do see as a problem is an attempt by public schools to teach the truth. Thus, at the behest of Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida legislature passed bills to stop schools from addressing racism or issues of gender identity. One is infamously known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The Governor’s idea is to stop the indoctrination of children by mandating his version of indoctrination.

But there are many more grumpy teachers than GOT, many of whom may be willing to buck the law and carry on as they always have. They will soon be out of a career.

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