Florida conservatives are engaged in what appears to be the most fervent attack on historical truths and fact-based school curricula in the country.
The state's right-wing lawmakers have pushed for a slew of bans prohibiting lessons about racism, LGBTQ people and gender inequality. And a major group routinely at the center of these fights is the Florida Citizens Alliance.
Joy mentioned the group on an episode of "The ReidOut" last week — and you should really get to know it.
The alliance is a conservative nonprofit that claims on its website that children who attend public schools are being “indoctrinated” in a “system that undermines their individual rights and destroys our nation’s founding principles and family values.”
Given those deranged beliefs, it won’t surprise you to learn that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis chose the group’s co-founders to serve on his transition advisory committee in 2018.
The Miami New Times broke down the alliance’s modus operandi when they reported on its ties to DeSantis that year:
The group also compiles a yearly “Objectionable Materials” dossier of books and teaching materials to which the Alliance objects. The group appears to grow upset whenever it thinks school texts promote “Islam,” “socialism,” sex, evolutionary science, or gun control, for example. The Alliance has issued line-by-line objections to numerous history books — its complaints usually just boil down to the books simply not being conservative enough. Group members have complained, for example, about everything from positive depictions of journalists to negative depictions of Ronald Reagan.
The alliance’s fearmongering is a major source of the right-wing hysteria in Florida over anti-racist school teachings, which have been scapegoated as “critical race theory.” In several Florida counties, the alliance has been the primary backer of oppressive book bans. And as The Miami Times referred to, the organization’s ties to conspiratorial extremism don’t stop at lessons about identity.
The Daily Beast has detailed the alliance’s fervent attempts to whitewash textbooks that teach about climate change, which a leader of the group called a “philosophy of the academic aristocracy” in 2018. That’s a particularly extreme claim in Florida, where the evidence of climate change is arguably more obvious than anywhere else in the United States. But as I’m sure you’re beginning to understand, the alliance is not a fact-based organization.
According to the Daily Beast, the alliance’s members have previously combed school textbooks “for violations of their beliefs, creating carefully detailed reports on how many times, and in what context, elementary and high school students were learning about rising seas, or melting ice in Antarctica.”
Those efforts preceded the group’s successful push for a GOP-backed bill allowing residents to challenge the use of specific texts in school curricula.
In short: This is a group full of right-wing quacks that enables other right-wing quacks’ worst — and dumbest — impulses. If you need a video that drives that point home, here you’ll find the alliance echoing the nonsensical, education-related rantings of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI and was later pardoned by then-President Donald Trump.
Florida Republicans are enacting laws that reflect the alliance’s warped and bigoted approach to education, and more people ought to know how sinister this relationship is. It’s a prime example of the danger that looms when right-wing figures have the ear of powerful politicians.