The youngest member of Congress has condemned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for actions that he describes as fascist.
Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Florida), a Gen Z member of the House of Representatives, appeared on CNN on Sunday to discuss DeSantis, who is viewed as a potential contender for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2024.
DeSantis is “acting on scapegoating vulnerable communities due to his failures,” Frost said, noting that it was important to address the threat head on by “being bold in our messaging and calling it out for what it is.”
The Florida governor’s actions — particularly those targeting LGBTQ and Black youth in the state — are deeply troubling, Frost continued.
DeSantis “is abusing his power and using the state to target political opponents and political enemies,” Frost said. “And there’s a word for that, and it’s fascism, and we have to be honest about it.”
“In a few years, it can be a problem for the nation,” Frost went on, referring to DeSantis’s presidential ambitions.
“We need everybody to pay attention and talk about how he’s targeting trans folks, targeting not just Black history, but Black people in general, which is American history and targeting marginalized communities across this entire state,” Frost said.
DeSantis’s attacks on marginalized groups in Florida have been well-documented. Last year, the governor signed legislation restricting educators in the state from discussing gender and sexuality in schools, a measure commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
That law and other policies have resulted in a number of books being pulled from the shelves in school classrooms and libraries, with new rules from the Florida Department of Education requiring every book to be approved by a district-appointed media specialist before it can be made available to students.
DeSantis and Republicans in the state have also forced schools to adopt lesson plans that whitewash the history of slavery and racism in the U.S. DeSantis’s “militant opposition to any teaching of the Black freedom struggle” is tantamount to “proto-fascism,” historian Barbara Ransby has said.
DeSantis is currently pushing for the passage of an anti-press freedom bill that could affect the rights of journalists and potentially punish social media users for calling out people who are using such platforms to express homophobic or transphobic views.
The Florida governor has used immigrants as political props, tricking dozens of migrants into boarding planes so he could transport them to Democratic-led states to score points with far right conservatives. He has also introduced legislation that would bar undocumented immigrants from accessing health care, education and employment in the state.
Frost has been describing DeSantis’s actions as fascistic for some time now. He has, however, been criticized by advocates for Palestinian rights for his resistance to taking a similarly firm stance against the far right Israeli policies that — with U.S. backing — are subjecting Palestinians to relentless violence and apartheid conditions: After having expressed greater support for Palestinian rights earlier in his campaign, Frost went on to publish a position paper denouncing the BDS movement and declaring U.S. military aid to Israel to be “one of the most important parts of the foreign aid that we contribute to.”
While it’s clear that Frost is far from ready to apply the same clarity of principles to the arena of Palestinian liberation, his vocal condemnation of DeSantis is welcome news to the Florida LGBTQ and racial justice activists who have been trying to raise more national alarm about DeSantis’s fascism for some time.
“I’ve had people tell me to stop using the word fascist in talking about Gov DeSantis and what’s going on in Florida. I won’t stop,” Frost said in a tweet from February. “This is what’s going on. I won’t tone down my language when we are actively being oppressed.”
Note: This article was updated to add information about Frost’s position paper regarding U.S. military aid to Israel.
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