Opinion

Rude Awokening: DeSantis Team Says Loud Part Out Loud

Loud and clear: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is clear about his "Stop WOKE" agenda — just ask his lawyers.
Loud and clear: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is clear about his "Stop WOKE" agenda — just ask his lawyers. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
Like most Floridians, Gov. Ron DeSantis' team had a busy week after Thanksgiving, what with eating leftover jellied cranberry sauce out of the can and flocking the Christmas tree. Oh, and in the gubernatorial gang's case: appearing in a Tallahassee federal courtroom to defend their boss' suspension of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren this past summer.

As first reported by Gary Rohrer of Florida Politics (and pretty much only reported by Gary Rohrer), Warren's attorneys polled DeSantis' legal team and staff, seeking to clarify what their boss means when he invokes the term "woke" — as he soveryoftendoes.

As Rohrer notes, the question is a valid one given that DeSantis sprinkled in the W-word amid the various Whereases in the executive order that planted Warren in the proverbial corner wearing the proverbial dunce cap.

"Taryn Fenske, DeSantis' communications director, said 'woke' was a 'slang term for activism… progressive activism' and a general belief in systemic injustices in the country," Rohrer reported. "Ryan Newman, DeSantis' general counsel, echoed the part about systemic injustices, specifically regarding the criminal justice system.

"'To me it means someone who believes that there are systemic injustices in the criminal justice system and on that basis they can decline to fully enforce and uphold the law,' Newman said."

The inquiry came in a still-pending civil case in which Warren is challenging his suspension on First Amendment grounds. Warren was suspended by DeSantis in August after pledging not to enforce Florida's recently passed abortion restrictions.

"Asked what 'woke' means more generally, Newman said 'it would be the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them,'" according to Rohrer's report.

Newman, Rohrer writes, clarified that DeSantis doesn't share that particular belief — a point the governor hammered home during his victory speech last month, when he blasted "woke ideology" and declared that "Florida is where woke goes to die."

As one Twitter user aptly pointed out on Sunday, "It sounds different when you apply his own definition to the slogan[:] 'Florida: Where addressing systemic injustices in American society goes to die.'"
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Tom Finkel began his journalism career in Miami in 1989, when New Times, then a fledgling weekly, hired him as a proofreader. He left as managing editor nine years later, only to return in 2019, having served in the meantime as editor-in-chief of City Pages in Minneapolis, Riverfront Times in St. Louis, and the Village Voice in New York City.
Contact: Tom Finkel

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