On Florida

When you hear something you’ve heard before or experienced, you tend to believe it. When it’s entirely new, you rely on the reputation of the reporter. When I moved to Florida in 1977, I knew nothing. When the spouse assured me that the South had changed, I had no clue what that meant. In the event, the notion that the South had changed was mistaken. Though, it could be argued that North Florida was never representative of the South. After all, the Peninsula, which had been acquired from Spain, remained a territory until after the Civil War and experienced an influx of Freedmen intent on claiming property for themselves.

Based on my own experience in Chile, Florida was/is a third world country with the same distinction between enormous wealth and abject poverty. It was an insult to the conscience made worse by the fact that religious fed their lust for piety by distributing sandwiches to the hungry while refusing to provide access to facilities where people could wash their hands. I had to persuade officials to shut the “soup kitchen” down to promote the establishment of a more sanitary facility.

That started me on 17 years of civic activism and agitation until, in 1992, I fled. Even annual respites in New England had become unbearable. I am not sure that the murder spree of Danny Rolling was the last straw, but the news reports as I was driving south made it clear it was time to get out.

The question is what made UF a target. And the answer is that the culture of compliance which relies on the routine violation of basic human rights was well entrenched. The distribution of knowledge was not the main purpose of UF. The main purpose was, and still is in Florida, the exploitation of a generation for profit. Exploitation is what Florida is about. And the worst part about this mindset is that it spawns disdain and then the disdain generates resentment. And Ron DeSantis is its icon.