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What is behind Ron DeSantis’ Stop-Woke Act? | Cas Mudde

The strategy behind this Republican battle is to fight off the federal state until they have re-established federal power themselves

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has been grabbing national headlines with his relentless attacks on so-called “woke”. In addition to his Stop-Woke (Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) Act, which prohibits educational institutions and businesses from teaching students and employees anything that would cause anyone to “feel guilt, anguish or any form of psychological distress” due to their race, color, sex or national origin, he has barred University of Florida professors from giving evidence against the state’s voting law, claimed that professors at public professors have no right to freedom of speech, and organizing a “hostile takeover” of the New College of Florida, one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country. But he is far from the only Republican politicians to attack the education system.

UCLA Law School’s CRT Forward Tracking Project has tracked 567 anti-Critical Race Theory (CRT) efforts introduced at the local, state, and federal levels. According to the World Population Review, there are currently seven states that have banned CRT, while another 16 states are in the process of banning it. That constitutes almost all states with a Republican governor. While CRT is a highly specific academic theory that is almost exclusively taught at some law schools, the anti-CRT laws are incredibly broad and vague and target all levels of education. In my state, Georgia, House bill 1084 bans the use of so-called “divisive concepts” (eg race and gender) from teaching. In a sentence that could come straight from Orwell’s 1984, the bill prohibits schools from “promoting concepts such as tolerance, mutual respect, cultural sensitivity, or cultural competency”.

Cas Mudde is a Guardian US columnist and the Stanley Wade Shelton UGAF professor in the school of public and international affairs at the University of Georgia

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