Growing up in Hollywood, right next to the railroad tracks, I remember seeing flat cars bearing tanks, trucks and artillery being rushed south as the Cuban missile crisis came to a boil.
No question, Fidel and Nikita scared the bejesus out of us Floridians. And so naturally the Legislature leaped into action.
By requiring Florida high school students to take a course on Americanism Vs. Communism.
I gotta confess. I don’t even remember taking the course at South Broward High School, let alone anything I might have learned from it. It’s all faded in the mists of time, like those nuclear air raid drills we all supposedly endured back in the ‘50s.
“Ok, children, duck under your desks now!”
(Turns out we were ahead of our time. Only now they call ‘em active shooter drills.)
Still, the “us vs. them” lessons must have left an impression. Right out of high school I joined the navy. And shortly thereafter my destroyer was sent to patrol the waters off Guantanamo during a subsequent Cuban mini-crisis.
We didn’t see any Rooskies, but the sharks were thick as Florida mosquitos.
But of course there is nothing old under the sun anymore.
Fidel is dead. The Russians gave up communism for oligarchy. And the Chinese haven’t invaded Grenada. Yet.
Still, last year Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill to ensure that, once again, Florida school children will be educated in the evils of communism.
Good on him. May old enemies never be forgotten.
If nothing else, bringing back Americanism Vs. Communism will be something of a dress rehearsal.
It’s only a matter of time until DeSantis and his shock troops in the Legislature get around to requiring that our kids learn about the real present danger to our way of life.
Americanism Vs. Liberalism.
Listen, every time DeSantis opens his mouth, he tells us in no uncertain terms who he thinks the real enemy is.
“From schools to corporations, Democrats are working to indoctrinate our nation’s youth with hatred,” he says.
And “The adoption of woke ideologies like Critical Race Theory is the left’s latest method to delegitimize America’s institutions and our founding principles.”
Ron DeSantis isn’t my governor.
I don’t say that.
And just about every chance he gets.
And, yes, he’s talking about people like me.
I am the anti-Ron. Who knew?
I am a Democrat. I am a liberal. And I know I’m a leftist, because I just got an email about my last column in the Sun: “Spoken like a true leftist.”
So who am I to argue that I am the real and present danger to the American way of life?
Heck, I’ve been to war in the defense of my country. So I must be a “militant leftist.”
I pay my taxes. So I’ve been helping to finance the “liberal indoctrination” of school kids.
I obey the law, so obviously I’m just flying under the radar until the putch is declared by the Comintern.
And I vote. Which makes me very dangerous indeed.
Oh, yes, and one more thing.
I am involved in what Meg Greenfield, the late editorial page editor of the Washington Post – and, by definition, another leftist – liked to call “the daily argument of life.”
I’ve been arguing for more than 40 years on the pages of The Sun and elsewhere.
I thought that was my patriotic duty.
But if DeSantis is to believed, I’ve just been trying “to poison our society.”
Like all Democrats.
Like all liberals.
Like all leftists.
Listen, in the course of my journalistic career, I have known and written about Claude Kirk, Bob Martinez, Jeb Bush, Charlie Christ and Rick Scott.
Republican governors all (except of course for “Chain Gang” Charlie, who has now come over to the dark side).
All of them had their passionate partisan leanings.
But I don’t remember any of them openly fomenting hatred against millions of Floridians because they registered D instead of R.
I don’t remember any of them demonizing half the state’s population in order to win the hearts and minds of the other half.
It’s starting to feel like old times in this state. And that’s not good.
Spero McConnell, a social studies teacher in Miami when the American Vs. Communism course was mandated, recalled the experience to Education Week some 30 years later.
“We had to sign a loyalty oath before we were allowed to teach…People believed there were subversives in every segment of society, including the schools.”
I am an American. I am a Floridian. I am a veteran. I vote. I pay my taxes. I obey our laws. I insist on participating in the daily argument of life.
And I will never sign a loyalty oath because some pol thinks he can get to the Oval Office by bringing back 1950s-style McCarthyism.
Personally, I don’t think Americans are that mean-spirited to fall for Gov. Ron’s scam. I hope I’m right…um, I mean left.
Either way, I’m happy to be Gov. Ron’s anti-Ron.