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“REPREHENSIBLE”: Ron DeSantis fails to clearly condemn Nazi rallies in Florida

“REPREHENSIBLE”: Ron DeSantis fails to clearly condemn Nazi rallies in Florida

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I never thought that I would see a spokesperson for the Governor of Florida actually feuding with the Anti-Defamation League after trying to smear Democrats from staging fake nazi rallies.

But here we are.

Floridians were horrified to see neo-Nazis stage demonstrations in Orlando last weekend. The hateful rallies included instances of violence, swastika flags being hung from an overpass, and a banner that read (and misspelled) “Let’s go Brandon.”

These acts of hate drew quick condemnation from elected officials and community advocates across the state, but it was quickly noted that Governor Ron DeSantis had not weighed in on these brazen displays of intolerance and antisemitism.

By Sunday night, Democratic lawmakers in Central Florida who were calling on DeSantis to issue a statement or at least say something to repudiate the neo-Nazis were being met with radio silence.

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That’s when his spokesperson Christina Pushaw decided to weigh in and question via Twitter whether the Nazi Demonstrators were, in fact, secret Democratic operatives. This absurd notion drew quick and massive backlash, including from a prominent South Florida rabbi who called Pushaw’s tweets “reprehensible.”

The Nazis in Orlando are from a group that has been established for years and have a website in which they include their contact information. A simple Google search would have clarified that for Pushaw, but she was more interested in muddying the facts and playing politics with a painful situation for so many Floridians rather than providing a clear answer as to why DeSantis just refused to issue a simple and clear statement condemning Nazis.

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Pushaw was later forced to acknowledge that her absurd suggestion that the Nazi demonstrators were Democrats was indeed fake, but she kept a combative attitude when pressed as to why the Governor was silent, feuding on Twitter with the Anti-Defamation League of Florida.

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Ron DeSantis finally was asked the following Monday about it during a press conference, and unsurprisingly, he was just as combative as his unhinged spokesperson.

In fact, his performance was much much worse.

Instead of simply condemning hate and using the opportunity to try and unite people, he was his usual aggrieved self, accusing Democrats of trying to “smear” him and saying he wouldn’t “play their game.”


Ron DeSantis thinks that being asked to condemn neo-Nazi demonstrators is playing “their game.” Instead of doing the right thing and clearly condemning a group supporting genocide and white supremacy, he made it completely about himself, his own grievances, and pettiness.

DeSantis did call the Demonstrators “jackasses” and “malcontents,” but he never condemned their ideology.

He never pushed back against their white supremacy.

Anyone paying attention to our Florida state legislative session can deduce why.

Florida Republicans and Ron DeSantis are working hard to make Florida an intolerant place. They are pushing bills to ban the discussion of  LGBTQ topics in schools. They want to prohibit discussion regarding Florida’s racist past that causes “discomfort” to whites. They want parents to be able to sue schools and libraries to remove books from curriculums if they disagree with the topics.

It’s in this sort of environment that hatred is emboldened. It would be nice for Ron DeSantis to take a break from talking about the made-up threat of critical race theory and instead clearly denounce the actual threat of Nazi demonstrators in our communities.

Even former Republican Florida governor reviled Medicare fraudster Rick Scott issued a statement denouncing the nazis.

Unfortunately, our Governor decided to play politics instead.

Thomas Kennedy is a Democratic National Committee member representing Florida. Twitter: @tomaskenn

This is an opinion column.

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Thomas Kennedy
is a former reported opinion columnist and roving correspondent. He's an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Florida and a fomer Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.

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