Florida's 'anti-woke' education law even worse than McCarthyism: historian
Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at a "Unite & Win Rally" at Arizona Financial Theatre. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

An expert on the "red scare" of the 1940s and 1950s sees strong similarities between that dark historic period and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis cracking down on educators.

The state's Republican legislature passed the so-called "Stop Woke Act" that restricts teachers from teaching about racism and biases, and historian Ellen Schrecker and other critics say the law has a chilling effect on free speech in much the same way as Sen. Joseph McCarthy's hearings on communism, reported the Miami New Times.

"What I'm seeing is much more widespread and much more dangerous because it's getting into the content of American education," said Schrecker, the author of several books on McCarthyism.

Leftist scholars and artists were blacklisted over their alleged associations with communism, but the federal government never actually legislated what they could say or teach.

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"Today, the political inquisition is reaching into the classroom," Schrecker said. "It’s censoring people’s teaching and forces them to change what their syllabus looks like."

The faculty union at Florida International University is encouraging professors to reject the law and publicly criticized the University of Florida and other administrations for going along with the DeSantis-backed law, which critics say is overly vague.

"We think this is a holistic attack on our ability to do our job," said Ronald Cox, who teaches politics and international relations at FIU. "We’ve now got the union to agree that faculty should be able to teach the way they've always taught."