Let’s get the thing with the boots over first: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis showed up for a photo-op in white wellies and immediately drew a slew of “Who wore them best?” tweets, mostly split between Nancy Sinatra and the green M&M, who, before black mermaids and crystal flutes, had conservatives up in arms over those sexy boots.
However, the nation’s cartoonists already had their eyes on DeSantis, thanks to his Martha’s Vineyard campaign prank, and Pat Bagley echoed a more serious observation, which is that DeSantis might have used the stunt money to aid his own people rather than to promote his re-election.
There’s a bit of the “Don’t spend it on what you want, spend it on what I want” in those complaints, but there’s also an element of truth, given that, in addition to the white wellies, DeSantis chose to wear campaign gear for his photo ops, including this “Handing out food” shot.
It’s better than tossing paper towels, mind you, but it does call to mind the advice in Matthew 6:2
Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
It’s important to show up — Bush was heavily criticized for flying over Katrina rather than pulling rescue workers off their jobs for a photo op — but it seems doubly important not to do so as a campaign event.
And, as Nick Anderson (Tribune)‘s commentary makes clear, the aftermath of the Martha’s Vineyard stunt has not gone unnoticed.
The key here is not a suggestion that the FEMA teams are undocumented immigrants, but, rather, that DeSantis does not differentiate between what he does as governor and what he does as a candidate, with a hint that perhaps he’s using both staff time and tax money to promote his re-election, which is not only unethical but illegal.
Andy Marlette (Creators) is up in Pensacola, away from the hurricane damage but close enough to speak authoritatively about the likelihood of anyone checking papers as the recovery proceeds.
It serves, as well, as a comment about the likelihood that gratitude will change anti-immigrant minds once the crisis has passed. There have also been cartoons suggesting that, once the disaster relief check from Washington has been cashed, DeSantis and his crowd will return to their diatribes about socialism and against the federal government.
But, of course, it’s never been about logic and facts, and there’s no reason to expect anyone to abandon rhetoric that has proven effective.
If logic and facts were involved, more employers and industrialists would be nodding along with Greg Kearney, who points out the worker shortage in Maine, a situation which could be said of nearly every state in the union. We have jobs; we need workers.
It’s hardly an old conflict, and this 1994 David Horsey cartoon was a favorite with high school students when I lectured in schools. There is no shortage of “What if the Indians had behaved like that?” cartoons, but this one is particularly apt because the myth of Thanksgiving was built up in the expansion years following the Civil War, when we inflated the way natives had welcomed the first immigrants as a metaphor for our own eagerness to welcome workers from abroad.
We even offered incentives for immigrants to come work in our factories and farm our lands.
Unless they were Chinese, that is.
However, even then, there were those here who objected to the Irish, to Eastern Europeans and to DeSantis’s ancestors, the Italians.
We have a long history of hating minorities, and the Know-Nothing Party was a serious threat to the nation, winning seats in Congress in the 1854 midterms on a platform of anti-immigration and anti-Semitism.
Now we’re seeing a backlash even against those fleeing Communism, in a state where, as Jeff Danziger noted 22 years ago, Cuban emigres and their Republican allies insisted that Elián González, victim of an illegal parental abduction, be kept in the US rather than returned to his father in Communist Cuba.
Today, those freedom-lovers apparently join DeSantis in rejecting refugees from Communist Venezuela. I guess we’ll see in November.
DeSantis certainly has his defenders, and Mike Lester joins a chorus of conservatives in denouncing Nancy Pelosi as a racist for suggesting that immigrants might be valuable as agricultural workers in Florida.
Not that it’s a new job opportunity: Immigrants have worked our fields for decades, both legally and under the table, and, yes, most of them — both legal and under the table — have been from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
Pelosi was careful to say that she does not favor open borders, nor that she advocates employing those who are not documented.
Quite the opposite: She called for better border security and revisions in how we admit and certify these willing workers, though you’d have to read that quote in context if you wanted to understand her position.
Lincoln was one of the candidates who lost in those 1854 midterms, and he noted the danger he saw in the growing trend towards bigotry within the rising tide of Know-Nothings.
Though he couldn’t have foreseen how the new Republican party, later called “The Party of Lincoln,” would embrace the same violent rhetoric, and even endorse the despotic nation he sarcastically suggested.
Maybe we need to launch another Double V campaign, with a little broader scope and a little narrower target.