'Not worthy': Some Union League members threaten to resign after group bestows gold medal on DeSantis
On Tuesday, January 24, far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Center City Philadelphia to receive the Union League’s gold medal, an honor that was first given to President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. But Philly is overwhelmingly Democratic — the northeastern city hasn’t had a Republican mayor since Bernard Samuel left office in 1952 — and the ultra-MAGA DeSantis is a very polarizing figure who frequently draws criticism not only from liberals and progressives, but also, from Never Trump conservatives. A crowd of protestors gathered outside of the Union League on Philly’s Broad Street, declaring that DeSantis was undeserving of that reward.
The protests came at a time when teachers in DeSantis’ state were scrambling to comply with one of DeSantis’ controversial policies: Florida House Bill 1467, now in effect.
According to Philly’s Channel 6 Action News, broadcast by the local ABC affiliate WPVI-TV, some of the protestors were Union League members.
Action News reports, “A faction within the League says the potential presidential candidate was not worthy for a variety of reasons, including elevating election deniers and banning books he deems offensive from libraries. Some members threatened to resign unless the award was rescinded.”
Democratic Pennsylvania State Sen. Vincent Hughes was among the protesters, telling reporters and attendees, “Why are you promoting this individual who, in their philosophy, sees so many people, Black and brown folks, LGBTQ+ folks, as second-hand citizens?”
Another anti-DeSantis protester, Rev. Alyn E. Waller of the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, told the crowd, “This is a disgrace. It is wrong. It is a smack in the face of the people of this city. How are you going to honor someone in a city that is 44 percent African-American, and he has determined that an AP course on African-American history has no educational value? That is not acceptable.”
In Florida, DeSantis and his allies have rejected an advanced placement course on African-American studies, banning it from schools. One of DeSantis’ detractors, Washington Post opinion columnist and Never Trumper Jennifer Rubin, slammed the move as “explicitly racist” and “full-blown white supremacist” on January 23.
Another DeSantis policy that has drawn widespread criticism is HB 1467, which has some teachers fearing the possibility of felony charges. Those teachers, according to The Guardian’s Erum Salam, “are removing books from their classrooms or physically covering them up after a new bill went into effect that prohibited material unless deemed appropriate by a librarian, or ‘certified media specialist.’”
“The new guidelines for the Florida law, known as HB 1467, outline the books be free of pornographic material, suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material, and appropriate for the grade level and age group,” Salam reports. “In order to determine if the books meet these guidelines, certified media specialists must undergo an online training developed by Florida’s Department of Education. With only a few or even one media specialist present in each school, the process to vet books is lengthy.”
The Guardian reporter adds, “Scrutiny of teaching material in Florida schools heightened under the leadership of the right-wing Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, whose administration says it is actively working to ‘protect parental rights,’ which includes a prohibition on childhood education on gender, sexual orientation and critical race theory.”
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