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Ron DeSantis Bans Pro-Palestinian Student Groups To Show He Supports Israel Over US Constitution
Maybe loyalty oaths would help.
In a demonstration of his love for free speech, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis instructed the head of the state’s university system to order the shutdown of all campus chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine. Chancellor Ray Rodrigues yesterday sent a letter to the presidents of all state universities ordering the “deactivation” of the campus groups, claiming that because the national organization had said some pretty awful stuff, their Florida chapters had to be shut down for “supporting terrorism.”
Here’s the alleged logic: In a “toolkit” posted online, the national organization called the horrific October 8 attacks on civilians in Israel by Hamas — which killed more than 1400 people in Israel — “a surprise operation against the Zionist enemy,” and called for local chapters to join protests during a “national day of resistance” on October 12. Lots of downplaying — but also justification — of the slaughter and demonization of “the Zionist entity,” and a call for “fearless resistance.” It also included an extremely tasteless suggested illustration for protest organizers, featuring a silhouette of an armed figure flying a paraglider, one of the ways Hamas attacked Israeli towns.
Yeah, that’s gross, and also — unlike in the Wonkette comments, which we very much will actually not allow! — protected by the First Amendment.
The document also insisted, in a boldfaced line, that “We as Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement.”
Citing that line, Rodrigues explained in his letter that
It is a felony under Florida law to “knowingly provide material support . . . to a designated foreign terrorist organization. . .” § 775.33(3), Fla. Stat. (2019). Here, National SJP has affirmatively identified it is part of the Operation Al-Aqsa Flood—a terrorist led attack.
That’s some interesting logic, turning what’s clearly a symbolic statement into a literal confession to participating in a massacre. Good luck actually using that declaration to charge members of a university student group with “material support” for terrorism.
The Independent Florida Alligator, the student newspaper for the University of Florida, reported that the UF chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine was one of three groups that held a teach-in on campus about the Israel-Palestine conflict, on October 12, but if any of the speakers echoed the national group’s endorsement of the Hamas attacks or pledged fealty to Hamas, the article failed to mention it.
Rodrigues went on to note that there are at least two student chapters of the group at Florida universities, and since they “exist under the headship” of the national group, which said it’s literally part of the Hamas attack on Israel, then — time for his own boldface — “Based on the National SJP’s support of terrorism, in consultation with Governor DeSantis, the student chapters must be deactivated.”
Rodrigues followed that by saying that members of the two now-banished chapters of SJP “may form another organization that complies with Florida state statutes and university policies,” and even noted, generously, that the two universities should “grant these two chapters a waiver for the fall deadlines, should reapplication take place.”
The letter closed with an ominous note that Big Stupid-Faced Brother is watching Florida universities, and without getting too specific about where the lines might be, warned that the governor and Board of Governors of the university system will work together to
ensure we are all using all tools at our disposal to crack down on campus demonstrations that delve beyond protected First Amendment speech into harmful support for terrorist groups. These measures could include necessary adverse employment actions and suspensions for school officials.
Ah yes, Florida, the freedom state. No “big government overreach” unless it can be used for electoral publicity. Didja see how Ron DeSantis shut down those terrorist cells in Florida universities?
We assume that at some point this will all be found to be unconstitutional, but by then DeSantis will no doubt be rolling around in some other filth and calling it a presidential campaign, the end.
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Comment Moderator’s Note: Please note that Yr Editrix’s general ban on horribleness in comments on this topic remains in effect. The point of this article is that Ron DeSantis is being a cynical asshole for presumed political advantage by going after a student group.