Letter to the Editor: DeSantis is building a system of indoctrination

Joe Palmer, Guest Columnist

As a UNF alum and a former reporter and editor there, I was proud to read the editorial in The Spinnaker condemning, in such eloquent fashion, Ron DeSantis’ relentless bullying of the education system in Florida. The only way to defeat a bully is to stand up to him/her. The only way to defeat a bully with a bully pulpit, is to push back, and then take away that bully pulpit at the ballot box. Kudos to the editorial board of The Spinnaker for its willingness to strap on the gloves and fight.

There are millions of students coming of voting age in the next two years, many of them right here in Florida. There are enough young voters out there, and more arriving by the day, to throw cold water on DeSantis’ political aspirations in the next election cycle. It’s already been shown that Generation Z’s zealous activism and turnout in the 2022 midterm elections was key to turning an expected red wave into, as the great American poet, W. H. put it, “a soodling thread.” These truly are the dog days that he noted. Your voices matter. Your votes matter. 

Old citizen voters like myself have been fretting for years about who, if anyone, will step up beside us and say, “Enough!” I think we have the answer now. Know that there are millions of adults like me out there who have your backs and will take to the streets and campuses in peaceful protest with you to help save education, not only here, but in the rest of the country, as well.

Ron DeSantis isn’t looking for higher and more valuable education in this state. No. What he wants to build, indeed, what he’s already laying the foundation for, is a system of indoctrination designed in his own image and likeness. We’ve seen DeSantis’ ugly face before, as worn by totalitarian heads of state in other countries, both now and in the past. 

DeSantis is an obtuse and calculating tyrant. Failure to rise up and push back against him will guarantee, as your editorial so succinctly put it, “death by a thousand cuts” to education in this state. Not to put too fine a point on the tip of the spear, but first we burn books and then we start burning people.

In his poem “Under Sirius,” the great American Poet, W. H. Auden, was prescient about this moment in history: 

“Yes, these are the dog days, Fortunatas:

The heather lies limp and dead

On the mountain, the baltering torrent

Shrunk to a soodling thread;

Rusty, the spear of the legion, unshaven its captain,

Vacant the scholar’s brain under his great hat,

Drug as she may be, the Sybil utters

A gush of table chat…”

We must not allow our young scholars’ brains to be vacated by Ron DeSantis while our other leaders at the state and local level idly chit-chat and do nothing to stop him. This must not stand.


Joe Palmer is the author of “A Mariner’s Tale,” a Spinnaker alumnus and Navy veteran. Palmer, an alumnus of the University of North Florida who graduated in 1983, resides in Fernandina Beach, Florida. 

Readers are encouraged to submit a ‘Letter to the Editor’ for publication with Spinnaker. Spinnaker does not endorse any of the contents of a ‘Letter to the Editor.’ 


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