Florida to teach Kindergarten children ‘the evils of communism’

The Murdoch media is about as renowned for irony as it is for balanced political coverage.

The Australian published an article (22/4) about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign to protect the state from dangerous influences. It was an article which could be read ironically but more likely it was something The Oz approved of and probably hoped would lead to a similar policy in Australia.

DeSantis has backed off a bit on book banning but what goes on in schools is still of vital concern and worthy of legal compulsion on what you can and can’t teach in them.

The Australian story proclaimed that Florida had passed a law that requires students from kindergarten onwards to learn about the “evils of communism”.

DeSantis said the aim was to teach “the truth about the evils and dangers of communism” and the new curriculum would protect students from being “indoctrinated by communist apologists in schools.”

Now it’s not quite clear how many ‘communist apologists’ there are in Florida schools but given the mass exodus of people from Cuba in 1980 it is just possible that there were a few communist infiltrators among them who became teachers and may have been young enough not to have reached retirement age by now.

But the subject of communism and Cuba has remained a hot button in Florida politics for a long time. The success of the Castro revolution provoked an initial mass exodus to the US – in particular among those Mafioso profiting from gambling and prostitution.

In 1961, backed by the CIA, a rag tag army of Cuban exiles trained by the CIA launched the Bay of Pigs Invasion in a bid to remove Fidel Castro from power.

The invading army surrendered after 24 hours. It was not the JFK administration’s finest hour. But it did lead to two things: an ongoing US obsession with getting rid of Castro and a Castro plan to get rid of some of his population and send them to the US.

The US Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training recounts how it unfolded.

“On April 1 1980 several Cubans took control of a bus and drove it through a fence of the Peruvian embassy in Havana; they requested – and were granted — political asylum. After Fidel Castro retaliated by having the Cuban guards protecting the embassy removed, over 10,000 people crammed into the tiny Peruvian embassy grounds.”

Castro then announced that the port of Mariel, just outside of Havana, would be opened to anyone wishing to leave Cuba, as long as they had someone to pick them up. The ADST said: “Cuban exiles in the United States rushed to Key West and to docks in Miami to hire boats to transport people to the United States. That set in motion a six-month drama in which more than 125,000 Cubans fled their country and overwhelmed the shores of the US. Castro then upped the ante by allowing thousands of criminals and mental patients to leave as well.”

The Mariel boatlift ended in October by mutual agreement between the US and Cuba. Although after Mariel South Florida had to contend with a marked increase in crime – depicted  on screen by the 1983 remake of the hyper-violent movie classic Scarface.

The ADST also describes the 2000 custody case surrounding Cuban child Elian Gonzalez which dominated the American news cycle and was widely covered throughout the world. Combining US-Cuba immigration policies, custody issues and the 2000 American presidential campaign, the case of Elian Gonzalez became highly publicized and politicized.

Elian and his mother left Cuba on a raft headed towards the US but it sank in a storm, killing his mother and all but two other passengers.

“After being picked up by the Coast Guard and brought to live with relatives in the Miami area, a lengthy legal battle began. After months of publicity and legal wrangling, Elian was finally allowed on June 28 2000 to return to Cuba in his father’s custody, after the US Supreme Court declined to review a lower court decision that Elian was too young to file for asylum,” the ASDT reports.

It’s doubtful if today’s US Supreme Court would make a similar decision although it would be fascinating to see the way they would manage to decide that a child was better off not being with his surviving parent.

The major political impact of this was a large Cuban anti-Castro Florida expatriate community which resulted in a strong Republican voting base – although the overall Latino community voting patterns are now much come complex and impacting in many States – particularly California.

Even in Florida younger generations born of Cubans who left Cuba are probably more diverse in voting behaviour than their parents and grandparents. Moreover, the Cuban population is now being diluted by refugees and their descendants from Latin American countries whose problems generally resulted from the interference of the US through coups and the protection of torturous dictators advised by the CIA.

The De Santis legislation requires the teaching of the history of Communism in the US; atrocities committed under communist regimes; the increasing threat of communism in the US during the 20th century; and, Cuba’s communist policies.

The Australian did acknowledge that seven of the 120 Florida lower house representatives voted against what it put as the education ‘reforms’ and quoted one Democrat comparing the bill to McCarthyism.

The blog has not started reading The Australian. The clip was sent by his friend Tony Jaques. The blog was also a founding member of the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society.