Florida lawmakers experienced the consequences of their legislation, which has contributed to the acceptance of prejudice, during the past two years of conflict with what they refer to as “woke” culture.
The most recent attempt to prevent local governments from removing historic monuments seems to have hit an impediment following a contentious Senate committee hearing on Tuesday. A new bill has been proposed that would prohibit local elected officials from issuing orders to remove Confederate statues.
This bill includes penalties of fines up to $1,000 and the possibility of civil lawsuits for those officials who violate the law.
The discussion about Senate Bill 1122 took an unsettling turn when backers’ comments showed deeper worries about the bill’s purpose. Some politicians may see the bill as an effort to protect the past, but the feelings that were shown during the meeting revealed a worrying beneath.
One person who backed the bill said that taking down Confederate statues was seen as “part of the cultural war being waged against white society.” With its divided undertones, this speech made people uncomfortable, not just among Democrats (who left in protest), but also among Republicans.
Another person talked about the idea that Native Americans might have the “standing” to take down statues, which made a reference to what might happen to historical sites across the state.
It was clear that these words made Republican Senator Jennifer Bradley uncomfortable, and she made it clear that she thought they were “bigoted” and “racist.”
Even though Bradley had some doubts, she eventually voted in favor of the bill. Every other Republican on the committee agreed with her.
The heated nature of the meeting had a lasting effect. Committee Chair Alexis Calatayud responded to the remark about “white culture” by telling the crowd that not all people who supported the bill felt that way.
Florida’s Legislative Agenda
After the meeting, Republican Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said she knew the bill had problems and was worried about how their own party would react. She made it clear that she didn’t want to introduce a bill that would be “abhorrent to everybody,” which was a hint that the bill might be looked at again.
It is good that Passidomo is aware of the problems with the bill, but critics say that deeds speak louder than words. Since the beginning, critics have opposed the bill and want it to be left alone and die instead of being amended.
The main issue is how the bill affects the freedom of local governments to remove monuments based on what the community wants.
Recent incidents like when the mayor of Jacksonville took down a statue of the Confederacy, show how important it is for decisions to be made locally. Some people are against the bill because they say it takes away this power and makes it harder for communities to talk about difficult past figures.
Even though there have been deaths and racial happenings, like the 2015 shooting at a Black church in Charleston, Florida politicians are still pushing bills like SB 1122 and the “Stop WOKE Act.”
These plans make it harder to talk about racism in the classroom. Governor Ron DeSantis’s unwillingness to condemn neo-Nazi marches also raises concerns about the legislature’s unintentional support of racist ideas.
The recent racist behavior in public during the meeting brought the worries of critics to the forefront, which has led to a new look at the possible effects of such laws.
As the fight goes on, the Florida Legislature is at an opportunity where they have to deal with the unexpected consequences of their actions.