A retired U.S. Navy officer has declared war on the "religious fanatics" in Florida who are flooding school boards with demands to ban books, arguing in front of one board that they are engaging in "religious fascism."
According to a report from the Daily Beast's Michael Daly, 54-year-old Wess Rexrode appeared at a school board hearing in Florida's Martin County where he gave members of the board and supporters of book bans a piece of his mind.
Rexrode, who was deployed on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on 9/11, bluntly stated, "Religious fanatics, who wouldn’t even let women be educated, flew planes into the World Trade Center and my Pentagon. I spent the last decade of my naval career fighting religious fascism abroad. I never thought I’d have to fight it right here in the United States of America.”
According to the Beast's Daly, "Rexrode was speaking specifically of those who used a new Florida law to have 92 books banned from the county’s public school classrooms and libraries. Books by Jodi Picoult and Toni Morrison were removed following an objection filed by a member of Moms for Liberty who had not even read them."
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Rexrode explained that he has a 14-year-old in middle school, before stating, “I don’t need anyone else telling my son what he can and cannot read. I’m perfectly capable of doing that myself.”
“I grew up in rural South Carolina, and books got me out of the trailer parks,”he continued. “My parents trusted those educators and the librarians to let me read what I needed to read.”
“I want my son exposed to different ideas and different viewpoints so that he can learn to think critically and not be force fed somebody else’s opinion. We’ve all been exposed to different opinions. It makes us better, makes us stronger,” he continued. "Diversity has made me stronger. And I didn’t sacrifice 21 years of my life to stand idly by while religious fanatics and other fanatics try to impose fascism on my country.”
In an interview with the Beast, he admitted, "I’m not right or left. I think for myself, and my oath was to the Constitution, not a political party. I just want what’s best for America.”
“I think my patriotism and my intelligence and my work ethic and my bonafides, I guess sort of speak to themselves. So then people typically have to debate me on the facts, instead of attacking me personally, which too many times a lot of debate these days devolves into," he added.
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