Florida’s descent into fascism

Malaki Lingg, Assistant Web Editor

Florida lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis have been at the center of discussion as of late after implementing an assortment of controversial laws and policies. The most interesting is HB 1467 — a new educational law restricting what books are allowed in the classroom. 

Under the new law, a “media specialist” is required to screen all books or printed materials in a school before they are allowed for use in a classroom. In addition, the law provides school staff with state guidelines and training to aid in content evaluation. The law has been implemented to keep inappropriate content and material that may lead to student indoctrination from entering the classroom. 

Teachers who fail to comply with the law may be subject to a third-degree felony charge, which equates to a five-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. Alongside this, educators in Duval and Manatee County have been instructed to cover up or entirely remove books from the classroom to avoid breaking the law. 

According to PEN America, books such as “The Gift of Ramadan,” by Rabiah York Lumbard and Laura K. Horton, “Malala: A Hero for All (Step into Reading Series),” by Shana Corey and Elizabeth Sayles and “Before She Was Harriet,” by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome have been removed from use by the county. These are just a small sample of the 176 books banned in Duval County since January 2022. 

Florida’s educational policies give a striking semblance to totalitarianism and the history associated with Nazism. A majority of the banned literature features voices from a diverse selection of religions, races and sexualities; an apparent attempt to silence their voices.

In 1933, members of the SS, the German Student Association and the Hitler Youth Movement burned approximately 25,000 books deemed “un-German.” In one night, the Nazi Party silenced the written voices of the Jewish people in Germany and began the hard ban on literature written by Jews, Romanis and Communists.

While currently on a vastly different level from the Nazi regime, Florida is practically engaging in a metaphorical book burning. The current right-wing government is banning books written by groups they perceive as their political rivals whilst prosecuting the educators who dare to use unapproved materials. 

HB 1467 is a blatantly un-American law. Florida is stifling free speech in schools in an attempt to “stop” indoctrination. In reality, Florida’s goal is to silence the voices of marginalized groups, possibly to teach the next generation of students a highly nationalist, euro-centric view of American history.