Opinion

Which Florida Official Condemned Nazis the Best?

Gov. Ron "Jackasses" DeSantis
Gov. Ron "Jackasses" DeSantis Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr
There's more than one way to skin a cat, and if you're an elected official, there are apparently even more ways to respond to a neo-Nazi rally. After a group of about 20 swastika-sporting, slur-spouting demonstrators descended on the Orlando area over the weekend, Florida politicians practically fell all over one another to stake out the high (or low, depending) social media high ground.

South Florida officials had jumped into a similar fray a week earlier, after a person or persons yet to be positively identified strew anti-Semitic leaflets across Miami Beach and Surfside. So when "Nazis" commenced to trend on Twitter on Sunday, many were quick to decry the group, which included members from the National Socialist Movement, the leader of which lives in Florida and which the Anti-Defamation League has deemed an "Americanized and modernized neo-Nazi group."

New Times was on the case to rate our politicians' Nazi-whacking on a scale of 1 to 10 in accordance with perceived tone, timing, and sincerity.
SCREENSHOT VIA TWITTER
Screenshot via Twitter

Gov. Ron DeSantis: 1

We can appreciate Ron DeSantis and his press secretary, Christina Pushaw, not wanting to jump to conclusions or misrepresent facts. Despite the swastikas and slurs, Pushaw didn't seem convinced and asked, in a since-deleted tweet on Sunday night, "Do we even know they're Nazis?"

The following day, the governor held a press conference where he referred to the Nazis as "jackasses" but refused to outright denounce their activities because he claimed it was he who was being smeared: "These people, these Democrats who are trying to use this as some type of political issue to try and smear me as if I had something to do with it, we're not playing their game." He added that he would leave it to state law enforcement to do their due diligence and ensure the demonstrators are held accountable.

Concern for the Jewish community? Nope. Outrage? Forget about it. The part where he's supposed to say being a Nazi is bad? What do you think this is, America?

We give DeSantis one point for use of mild profanity, and because our scale only goes down to one.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio: 5

A broken clock is right twice a day etc., etc. Though he was a little late to the game, Rubio, a Miami-born-and-based Republican with a penchant for sitting on his hands and propping up insurrectionists, denounced the demonstrations, referring to the participants as "freaks."

Tired: playground insults.

Wired: calling a Nazi a Nazi.

Bal Harbour Mayor Gabe Groisman: 7.5

As the mayor of Bal Harbour, Gabriel Groisman adopted a sterner tone, admonishing the "Jewish community in our country" to "get serious about our self-defense, real quick." Groisman didn't outright condemn Nazis, but he didn't have to. "Self-defense" packed plenty of punch.

Fun fact: Groisman, who is Jewish, was awarded the Pursuit of Justice Award from the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists in 2018.

State Sen. Jason Pizzo: 8

Though it's unclear what moment in history the Democrat from District 38, which includes Miami Beach, Surfside, and North Bay Village, was referring to, "I miss those times when you could kick the shit out of punks like these" managed to be a step up from Nazi-punching.

State Rep. Michael Grieco: 8.5

State Rep. Michael Grieco, a Democrat representing Florida's 113th district which encompasses Miami Beach and downtown Miami, posted about the Orlando-area Nazis not once, but twice over the weekend. The first salvo came on Sunday, when he opted to ridicule their intelligence level, pointing to how they mangled the inexplicably popular "Let's Go Brandon" anti-Biden gibe. "I guess if you're going to crawl out of your Anit-Semitic hole to advertise bigotry on an overpass...spelling isn't relevant," he tweeted.

Grieco later followed up, calling upon "every member of the Florida House and Senate to publicly denounce the despicable display in Orlando over the weekend" and specifically mentioning DeSantis and Rubio by name.

"We're getting crickets or deleted tweets from most," he aptly noted.

Though Grieco's heart was in the right place, we knocked off a couple of points because he never did outright condemn Nazis — which was his assignment for the group! But we added back some of that because he can be credited with shaming everyone else into joining in, thus making this post possible via peer pressure.

State Sen. Shervin "Shev" Jones: 9

The Broward Democrat who represents Florida Senate District 35, which includes Miramar and Opa-locka, stressed the importance of "teaching children history." In context, it seemed he was referring to the Holocaust, but it may as well have been Jim Crow or Stonewall.

New Times appreciates the context Jones brings to the conversation, and the unity it somehow inspires from hateful symbols and rhetoric. As the demonstrators try to divide our community, Jones reminds us we're more alike than we may realize.

Bonus points for the alliteration of "selective silence."

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava: 10

Daniella Levine-Cava is the county's first Jewish mayor, and after anti-Semitic leaflets disseminated across Miami Beach and Surfside last week, she was quick to not only condemn the act but "call on [the] entire community to firmly and forcefully condemn...all forms of hateful rhetoric, threats, violence and bigotry that have become increasingly common in our divided society."

Exactly one week later, Cava once again took to social media for what has seemingly become her 2022 Sunday ritual: to once again condemn Nazis. She tweeted Sunday evening that "white supremacists must be forcefully condemned at every level." She added, that "we must confront it wherever and whenever it appears."

Cava earns points for consistency and swiftness, and for calling on the community to stand up to Nazis. Winston Churchill would be proud!
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