When Florida Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis promotes or signs some type of hateful legislation to advance his political ambitions—such as imposing criminal prohibitions on gender-affirming health care, enacting laws restricting what teachers can teach or say to their students upon penalty of termination, or highly publicized, media-friendly measures arbitrarily smearing or criminalizing LGBTQ folks or undocumented immigrants—the easiest thing to conclude is that he’s either a cynical, amoral sleazebag, or an outright bigot.
Unfortunately, however, DeSantis’ actions don’t occur in a vacuum. They enjoy broad support among his most loyal constituents. The plain fact is that DeSantis is channeling the views and beliefs of those who put him into office.
Which is why this incident, as documented by Grace Hauck, writing for USAToday, is instructive. Because DeSantis, in the eyes of his ardent fans, has been so cruelly treated by a liberal media predisposed to underappreciate the tender bond he shares with them, it sometimes must fall to those same loyal supporters to publicly demonstrate their keen appreciation and thanks for all he has done and continues to do.
Including, apparently, Nazis.
As Hauck writes:
About 15 people with flags displaying Nazi insignia gathered outside Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, as others displayed messaging in support of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
USAToday posted a video of the scene on Twitter:
It’s probably impossible to express just how it must feel for parents, all with their fresh-faced kiddies in tow and eagerly anticipating their journey through the Magic Kingdom, to be greeted by the stark black swastika emblazoned on a sea of red, billowing in the Florida breeze. But at least they—and especially all the Floridians who voted for him—now understand that DeSantis’ most dedicated supporters aren’t afraid to display their allegiance to the man and his worldview in a very public manner.
As Tampa’s News Channel 8 reports, some demonstrated their sympathy towards DeSantis’ policies in other creative ways:
Other photos show protesters in the area with signs that said “Destroy all Pedophiles” and “White Pride Worldwide.”
Still, there were some naysayers. At least one resident expressed her misgivings at the sight of the Nazi-flag-waving DeSantis supporters.
Lisa Gause, 60, told USA TODAY she and her son were stopped at a red light when she saw the small group and took a photo of the scene, which shows a "DeSantis 2024 Make America Florida" flag planted in the ground.
"Good lord, what is this world coming to? What is Florida — what is America coming to?" said Gause, a sixth-generation Floridian. "We don't want this going on."
Democratic state representative Anna Eskamani also weighed in:
"It's absolutely disgusting to see what has become a common presence of Nazis in Florida, and even more disturbing when they are holding signs and flags that signal support for people like Governor DeSantis," Eskamani said. "Every person, regardless of political ideology, should condemn this. Florida is a state built on diversity and we will always stand against bigotry and hate."
It certainly is “absolutely disgusting,” as Rep. Eskamani puts it. But it’s also absolutely revealing. He’s doing what they want, they love him for it and they’re not afraid to show it. In politics, you’re known by the company you keep.
And these are obviously some of DeSantis’ biggest fans.