The Democrats’ Ron DeSantis Lie

Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. Decades from now when your grandchildren ask you if you remember where you were on this day, your smile will fade, your gaze will shift to the distance, and your mind will travel back to the exact time and place where you first heard the news: Ron DeSantis, the republican nominee for governor of the State of Florida, called his African-American opponent a monkey.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. On August 30th, CNN ran the following headline: “Florida's GOP gubernatorial nominee says a vote for his black opponent would 'monkey this up.’” For those of you who were not stuck in an airport August 30, and were therefore not forced to watch CNN, the author of the article was referring to an incident in which Representative Ron DeSantis, the GOP nominee for the 2018 Florida Gubernatorial election, told his supporters to not “monkey this up” by voting for his African-American Democratic opponent.

The obvious use of a heinous racial slur like this would mark a true low-point in our national dialogue and serve as a sobering reminder of how far we still have to go to achieve a truly accepting and just society—if it had actually happened.

CNN, and almost every other major news outlet for that matter, managed to bury DeSantis’ full statement under a misleading headline. DeSantis’ original statement reads in full, “We've got to work hard to make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction, let’s build off the success we’ve had with Governor [Rick] Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”

I think that I stand on solid ground when I say that after reading or hearing DeSantis’ original statement in full, most people would not conclude that he was employing a racial slur in an attempt to court the alt-right vote—unless they are a Democratic political operative or a member of the mainstream media, but I repeat myself. After all, Florida, the state from whence came such notably rabble-rousing politicians such as Jeb Bush and Bill Nelson, is not exactly known to be a stronghold for white supremacist sentiment.

I am not writing this article, however, for the sole purpose of defending Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis is a Roman Catholic, a father of two, a Yale and Harvard educated lawyer, and a veteran who served in Iraq. He is, by all objective metrics, a good man and a good American; a patriot who loves his family and served his country. The quasi-libelous attacks against him based on his use of a commonly understood phrase, literally defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “To handle or play with (something) in a careless way,” is disgusting and immoral. I have no interest in gratifying his accusers with any more defense than I have already offered.

Instead of talking solely about the mainstream political left’s cruel attack on Ron DeSantis, I want to talk about their bad habit of launching the same type of attacks on other Republicans. If you are yourself a Republican, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you are not, let me explain.

While campaigning with former President Barack Obama for reelection, Vice President Joe Biden told a predominantly African American crowd that Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin would, if elected, “Put y’all back in chains.” Why did he say this you ask? Did Mitt Romney suddenly come out in favor of repealing the Thirteenth Amendment? No. Joe Biden was, in fact, concluding that Romney was a neo-confederate apologist for slavery based on Romney’s plan to reduce regulation on Wall Street. I’m sure Calhoon would be proud.

Why did I bring this point up? Because Mitt Romney, perhaps one of the most decent men to run for the presidency in my lifetime, who has an adopted black grandchild and has never shown even a hint of racial animus, was called a racist by the sitting Vice President of the United States of America—and this happens to be the rule, not an exception.

It is no secret that America’s relatively short history as a nation is marked by deep-seated racial wounds. I am willing to go a step further, though. I think that America suffers from racism-induced PTSD.

I think that Americans are so horrified by the evils that were perpetrated by some of their countrymen, and condoned by their government, that they are willing to support almost any otherwise unpalatable politician if they can be sufficiently convinced that the alternative candidate is a racist. Racist, as far as I can tell, is the absolute worst thing you can call someone in American public discourse.

This point is not lost on Democrats, it is in fact what animates them. Andrew Gillum knows that Ron DeSantis is not a racist just as well as Joe Biden knew that Mitt Romney wasn’t a racist. This knowledge did not and does not stop them, however, from slandering their political opponents by playing on America's subconscious fear of and disgust toward racism.

Ron DeSantis is not the first Republican to be victimized by this Democratic tactic, and he most certainly will not be the last. And rest assured, it is a Democratic tactic. There is no commiserate slur used by the right or the left. Sure, we call them communists, but more and more of them seem to be just fine with that. Sure, we call them out of touch and elitists and lots of other uncharitable names, but none of those political slurs call into question the foundational morality of a person by invoking the most painful fact of America’s history.

The American Political Right is not perfect, I will be the first to admit that. It is too prone to demagoguery and eccentricism. It has a faint but ugly anti-intellectual streak, and it is often so jingoistic so as to appear to be xenophobic. But there is one fact about my political fellow travellers that will always make me proud to call myself a Conservative, and that is that the overwhelming majority of my party does not slander its opponents with the same mean-spirited, racially charged ferocity as our Democratic adversaries do us.

Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore on Flickr

Joseph PerrottaComment