Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has said you catch the most flak when you are over the target, and just days before officially filing for his 2024 GOP primary campaign, the attacks against him are ramping up.
The NAACP, the liberal civil rights organization, over the weekend issued a travel advisory for Florida, warning potential tourists that recent laws and policies championed by DeSantis and Florida's Republican-held supermajorities in the state legislature are "openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals."
The move appears part of a growing leftwing effort to censor and boycott government states, organizations and companies that disagree with woke ESG and other "inclusion" policies.
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"What a joke," DeSantis said in response during a speech Sunday.
"We'll see how effective that is. You know, just remember, during COVID, these people would be on CNN and all this stuff, slamming Florida, saying we were so bad, don't go to Florida, and then they would end of being spotted on the beach somewhere, vacationing in Florida."
As the audience chuckled, DeSantis added, "So this is just ridiculous."
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There has been an ongoing effort to try to hit DeSantis and his state's tourism, a significant revenue generator for state coffers.
DeSantis noted Florida is "proud to be leading the nation in tourism, and I think we've led it for many years in a row now."
"We get involved in these stupid fights," DeSantis continued, mocking those trying to hit the state during COVID.
"This is a stunt to try to do that. It's a pure stunt. Fine, if you want to waste your time on a stunt, that's fine," he said.
"I'm not wasting my time on your stunts, OK?"
DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern also tweeted DeSantis' remarks in response in a shareable gif.
Another tweet from a senior DeSantis communications officer Bryan Griffin denounced the political hit as "noise."
"Florida under @RonDeSantisFL: unprecedented success (borne out in tourism, domestic in-migration, job numbers), deep red electoral shift, and the most significant conservative legislative reform package ever," Griffin tweeted Sunday. "The left: maybe travel advisories? Media: brilliant.
"It's just noise."
The NAACP, long an advocate for Black Americans, joined the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a Latino civil rights organization, and Equality Florida, a gay rights advocacy group, in issuing travel advisories for the Sunshine State, where tourism is one of the state's largest job sectors.
The warning approved Saturday by the NAACP's board of directors tells tourists that, before traveling to Florida, they should understand the state of Florida "devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color."
Florida is one of the most popular states in the U.S. for tourists, and tourism is one of its biggest industries.
More than 137.5 million tourists visited Florida last year, with visitors spending $98.8 billion in the state in 2019, the last year figures are available.
Several of Florida's Democrat mayors were quick to say Sunday their cities welcomed diversity and inclusion.
The NAACP's decision comes after the DeSantis' administration in January rejected the College Board's Advanced Placement African American Studies course.
DeSantis and Republican lawmakers also have pressed forward with measures that ban state colleges from implement so-called ESG (“environmental, social and governance”) policies that push a far-left agenda on issues like climate change, using quotas and selecting individuals for promotion based on their race and other “inclusion” requirements.
DeSantis has also opposed critical race theory, and also passed the Stop WOKE Act that restricts certain race-based conversations and analysis in schools and businesses.
In its warning for Hispanic travelers considering a visit to Florida, LULAC cited a new law that prohibits local governments from providing money to organizations that issue identification cards to people illegally in the country and invalidates out-of-state driver's licenses held by undocumented immigrants, among other things.
"The actions taken by Gov. DeSantis have created a shadow of fear within communities across the state," said Lydia Medrano, a LULAC vice president for the Southeast region.
The liberal civil rights organizations also said DeSantis efforts to ban promotion of gay and transsexual lifestyles in elementary schools contributed to their decision.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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