Baxley was in the news again recently, after he tried to claim that abortions are killing Western European society (they're not). He used outright white-supremacist rhetoric that can pretty much verbatim be found on neo-Nazi forums. And when he got called out about it, he doubled down and refused to apologize.
Is this very stupid and offensive? Certainly! But it's also the Dennis Baxley way. Here's a rundown of the dumbest stuff he's said while also being in charge of our laws.
1. He opposed a memorial to slavery victims because he didn't want to "celebrate defeat."
Via the Miami Herald:
House Democrats and members of the legislative black caucus are offended and irate after a conservative Senate committee chairman said Friday the reason he didn’t hear a bill to create the first slavery memorial in Florida was because he didn’t want to “celebrate defeat.”2. He said elderly residents at a nursing home who died after Hurricane Irma would have died soon anyway:
“I would rather celebrate overcoming the heartbreak of slavery. I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to child abuse; I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to sexual abuse,” Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley told the Herald/Times for a story that was published online midday Friday. “I have a discomfort about memorializing slavery. ... I would like to take it in a more positive direction than a memorial to slavery.”
His comments came as the House voted unanimously that day — with roaring applause — to build the Florida Slavery Memorial near the Capitol in Tallahassee. Despite the House support, the proposal stalled in the Senate because Baxley had what another senator described as a “philosophical objection” to the concept.
As of this morning, 14 elderly people have died from heat exposure in a negligently run Hollywood, Florida nursing home after Hurricane Irma shorted out the air conditioner there, a tragedy that the State of Florida could easily have prevented.3. He thinks we shouldn't ban guns to stop mass shootings because we don't ban spoons to combat obesity.
Baxley could use his power as a lawmaker to force state nursing homes to, say, buy backup generators or submit to extra inspections. Ah, screw that. Why do his job, legislate, and try to fix societal problems if those geezers would have just keeled over next week anyway?
"Look at the population," Baxley said yesterday, according to a news release the Florida Senate Democrats circulated today. "You're dealing with the 90-somethings. Some of these deaths would naturally occur, storm or no storm. Eventually, everyone who was in that nursing home will die. But we don't need to attribute those all to the storm and bad policy."
Baxley's remarkably cruel comments would merit a tongue-lashing at a Sunday family dinner. But they're exponentially worse in context: He was speaking yesterday at a meeting of the State Senate's Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.
From Vice News:
4. He said he was attending a pro-Confederate meetup to somehow denounce racism:
Florida state senator @dennisbaxley on banning AR-15s: "Spoons are used to eat stuff to kill yourself with obesity, but we're not picking up spoons to get rid of obesity."— EKL (@ericakland) February 21, 2018
Watch the rest here: https://t.co/yrOlETQhfA pic.twitter.com/pmCrhJgjcH
Save Southern Heritage operates chapters in multiple states, and one member who lives in Virginia said on Facebook that he attended the "Unite the Right" rally over the weekend.5. And he believes abortions are killing Western European society:
Despite the obvious racism and tacit support for violence by the group online, Florida state Sen. Dennis Baxley — who tried to block a monument to the victims of slavery in Florida earlier this year — is scheduled to appear at a Save Southern Heritage Florida banquet in Temple Terrace, Florida, September 2. Baxley is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion about the alleged "War on the South" alongside Orlando-area radio host Doug Guetzloe and black Confederate flag supporter H.K. Edgerton. Tickets cost $29.50 and include a three-course fried chicken, salmon, and pasta dinner.
Reached by phone, Baxley confirmed he will indeed attend the banquet but said he'll speak to "condemn racism, bigotry, and violence." However, he said that he does not believe Confederate monuments should be taken down and that removing Confederate iconography is actually what triggers racist violence.
Baxley went on WLRN to talk about abortion, since Georgia, Alabama, and other states recently passed nightmarish anti-abortion restrictions and Baxley himself had sponsored a similar anti-choice bill this year that died before becoming law. But Baxley, for some bizarre and entirely in-character reason, justified his anti-abortion stance by echoing straight-up white-supremacist talking points about Western European birthrates.
WLRN's recap states:
“When you get a birth rate less than 2 percent, that society is disappearing,” he said of Western Europe. “And it’s being replaced by folks that come behind them and immigrate, don’t wish to assimilate into that society and they do believe in having children. So you see that there are long range impacts to your society when the answer is to exterminate.”As Orlando Weekly's Colin Wolf noted yesterday, this is factual nonsense in addition to being racist nonsense. Abortion rates don't have any correlation with birth rates — birth rates in the United States are dropping, sure, but they are dropping while rates of abortion are also falling.
But the bigger issue here is the racism. A key component of white-supremacist ideology is the notion that the white, Western European "race" will ultimately be "replaced" by immigrants of color who will take over and essentially exterminate white people. White nationalists refer to this as "replacement theory" or "white genocide."