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OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Here in West Florida

by John Brummett | January 11, 2023 at 4:09 a.m.

There is another basic difference between Asa Hutchinson and Sarah Sanders beyond the fact that he tells the truth about Donald Trump.

It's that he, as governor, resisted unnecessary right-wing cultural issues that presumed to address problems that weren't occurring. He thought those were distractions and wastes of time. His view was that he'd worry about school bathrooms if and when school people told him boys were tormenting girls by going into their bathrooms to gawk, point, even accost. Or vice versa.

Failing that, he thought such bills didn't fix anything but might do damage by complicating legitimate government debates over real issues like cutting income taxes and spreading computer education.

Sanders--and I say it again with the greatest confidence, and I don't know why she would mind unless it would hurt Daddy Trump's feelings--is Ron DeSantis. I call her Sarah DeSanders. Arkansas during her governorship will be West Florida.

Those culture-right bills that Asa tamped down? File 'em, pass 'em and Sarah will stick 'em straight into the law books. She'll own the liberals, by danged, if there are any left in Arkansas to be had.

She deigned last week to grant interviews to reporters she had previously blown off as irrelevant, so 20-teens. She apparently had concluded that you can and should stonewall reporters as a candidate, but that, as governor, they're going to be around a lot and you may as well refine your skill, plied as Trump's paid falsifier, to turn their questions into your talking points.

Vouchers and school choice? Why, certainly, let her tell you about her LEARN program, starting with a soliloquy on the letter "L."

That's how you do that.

Liberals evil and reactionaries nice. I think that's what LEARN stands for.

In an interview with Roby Brock for the television programs "Capitol View" and "Talk Business and Politics," Sanders answered one question directly. Asked about culture-issue bills, she said they'd be coming and that she'd already said that she would sign a DeSantis-Florida measure to make it a punishable act if a teacher in kindergarten or the first three grades lets any references to gays and lesbians get made.

She used the word "protect" in the context of that question.

Protect from what? Are our littlest ones getting forcibly gay-i-fied in romper room? How are these teachers going about that? Who are these teachers? Where is the sweet daughter of 5 or 6 who, when asked by Mommy what she learned today, said "I'm a lesbian."

I'd be opposed, too, if grade-school teachers were actually instructing and/or advocating about sexual orientation and gender identity.

But it's not happening, which means any law to stop it is not essential. That leaves the likelihood that such a law amounts only to a politician's hollow grandstanding.

If such a law had any real effect, it only would be to send a message to gays and lesbians that the state of Arkansas so disapproves of them that our kids must be guarded from them.

To be fair to Sanders, let it be noted that she said in this interview that states borrow good ideas from each other all the time and not only from Florida.

So, there's Oklahoma, which has a law saying that a teacher can get fired if a youngster comes home from school and tells his parents that he's sad because he found out that America has always been a bad country.

That's the "critical race theory" concoction that opposes fact-based, truth-telling history instruction.

"Critical race theory" is the new Republican phrase for what we used to call "sending kids to school."

Which reminds me: We're also likely to get a law saying you can decline to send your kids to school and get state money sent straight to you to keep your kids at home and ... I guess the conservative word is "protect" them.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.


Print Headline: Here in West Florida

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