Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis: Florida is Becoming Gilead “A Real-Life Handmaid’s Tale”.

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( This year, Hulu streaming service celebrates its 15th year anniversary. One of its most successful TV series has been the Handmaid’s Tales—created by Bruce Miller. The TV series is based on the book, Handmaid’s Tale, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, published in 1985. Handmaid’s Tales is set in a futuristic totalitarian, patriarchal nation known as the Republic of Gilead. Gilead was established after the overthrow of the United States government by a radical religious political group called the Sons of Jacob. The Sons of Jacob subscribed to the theonomy belief. This is the philosophical Christian form of government in which society is ruled by divine law, particularly the judicial laws of the Old Testament, and a belief that strict adherence to the 10 commandments should be observed by modern societies. The Sons of Jacob used their theonomic ideology to launch a coup of the United States Government—resulting in the 2nd  Civil War. During the skirmish, the President and most members of Congress were killed. The new government quickly consolidated its power, banning all other religious groups, including Christian denominations. Only the Sons of Jacob faith—the new national religion—were to be observed. The United States Constitution was abolished and all forms of media were censored. What was formerly the United States of America was changed into a military religious dictatorship known as the Republic of Gilead—led by Commanders.

The Republic of Gilead

In the Republic of Gilead, women are subjugated into a patriarchal society. They are the lowest-ranking class. They are not allowed to own money or property, nor to read or write. Most significantly, women are deprived of all control over their own reproductive anatomy.

Much of Gilead society is grouped into classes that governed their liberties and responsibilities. Women are separated into social categories and follow a strict dress code identified by being plainly dressed in a specific color. Handmaids wear long red dresses, and a large white bonnet to conceal them from public view and to restrict their vision. The Commanders’ wives wear sky blue. The Aunts wear brown. Their job is to train and indoctrinate the handmaids. The Marthas wear green. These are women who are sterile or have passed their childbearing years. They are the cooks and maids. The Econowives wear blue, red, and green stripes. They are the wives of lower-ranking men who handle the day-to-day activity of running the nation of Gilead. Very young girls wear pink. They often marry or are “given” to a Commander at age 14 to produce children. Young boys wear blue, and widows wear black.

The Handmaids

The worldwide fertility rate has collapsed as a result of sexually transmitted diseases and environmental pollution. Therefore, the theonomic government of Gilead justifies using handmaids as a biblical answer to this problem, based on an extremist interpretation of the biblical account of Jacob, Rachel, and her handmaid, Bilhah (Genesis 30:1-8).

Handmaids are considered “fallen women” according to Gileadian law. These are women who have divorced and remarried. Therefore, they are classified as adulteresses. Women who had previously had an abortion, single-parent mothers, lesbians (known as gender traitors), non-Christians (those not following the Son of Jacob religion), social and political activist, former professional, academic, and scholarly women are all classed as “fallen women.” The state arrested these fertile women and sentenced them to serve as handmaids to atone for their sins. These handmaids are forced into agreeing to being monthly raped by their Commander in order to redeem themselves according to Gileadian law. Handmaids are assigned to the homes of the ruling elite.

Each month, at the time of her ovulation, the handmaid is required to submit to a ritualized rape (referred to as “the ceremony”) by her male master—the Commander—in the presence of his wife. The handmaid must lean back between the legs of the wife while the husband has sex with her (the handmaid). The intent is to impregnate the handmaid so she could bear a child for the wife and Commander.

A handmaid name is created by adding Of- to the first name of the Commander whom she serves (OfFred, OfMichael, OfWilliam, etc.). When she is transferred to another Commander, her name is changed.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis - 2023.

The Ron DeSantis’ Effect

The dystopian society of Gilead presented in the Handmaid’s Tale may offend our sensibility, and cause us to ignore it by believing that nothing like this ever could happen in real life. But when we hear Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene advocates for a ‘national divorce’, “We need a national divorce. We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government,” and when we consider the radical totalitarian dystopian laws being passed in Florida by Ron Desantis, America becoming a totalitarian Gilead-like theonomic government, doesn’t seem that farfetched.

The state of Florida with its Republican legislators supermajority (28-12 majority in the Senate and a 85-35 majority in the House) is leading the charge of pushing America down the road to Gilead.  Under Governor Ron DeSantis leadership, Florida is passing oppressive laws similar to those of Gilead. Florida is becoming a Gilead-like state—a real-life Handmaid’s Tale.

According to author Hilary Elizabeth of ScreenRant, “The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most terrifying dystopias in fiction.” Elizabeth outlines 16 of the scariest laws enacted in the Republic of Gilead. Several of the laws she listed correlate with recent laws passed by DeSantis and the Florida supermajority Republican legislators:

Women Can’t Votein Gilead women have lost their right to vote.

In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, on November 6, 2018, Amendment #4 passed in Florida by an overwhelming 64.55%. The amendment went into effect on January 8, 2019, making an estimated 1.4 million people with felony convictions eligible to register to vote. DeSantis created a new crime unit and targeted mostly Black voters, male, and female, for voter fraud, and videotaped them being arrested. These individuals thought their voting rights were restored by Amendment #4 because their local election boards said they were eligible to vote and had given them a voter registration card.

Women Can’t WriteIt is hard to imagine any government making it illegal for half of its population to write. But to make sure that women in Gilead have as little power as possible, they are banned from writing.

In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, freedom of written expression is being stripped from journalists through a pair of new bills.  Senate Bill 1316, would require bloggers who write about elected officials to register with the state, similar to a lobbyist and disclose who is funding their blog. Another bill, House Bill 991, would make it easier to sue a journalist for defamation and make it easier for lawmakers in Florida to sue anyone who makes supposedly defamatory statements about them—even in a social media post.

DeSantis’ supermajority Republican Legislators are reintroducing a False Light Tort bill.  This means that even if a journalist writes something about a public official that is 100 percent true, if the public official deems that the intent of the article was to make him or her look bad, the public official could file a defamation suit.

Women Can’t ReadIn addition to being forbidden from writing, in the dystopian society of Gilead, women are also forbidden from reading. As stated by author Hilary Elizabeth,  “if women are banned from reading then they can’t exactly prove or disprove that Gilead’s laws are actually completely made-up nonsense.”

In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, books are banned. He forced schools to provide a searchable list of every book available in their libraries or that are used in instruction. School boards must inform the public prior to approving new instructional books and allow anyone to voice their opinion. Any objections to the material, by a parent or community member, must be reported to the state.

According to the FlordiaInsider website, over 4,180 instances of specific books were banned. Books with characters of color made up 40 percent of the banned books, while 21 percent of the titles dealt with racist and racial topics. Books related to Black History, Critical Race Theory, The 1619 Project, slavery, or any literature legislators perceive white children might read and feel bad about themselves appears to be a primary focus of the reading ban. There was no regard for the feeling of Black children—not being able to read in school about anyone who looks like them, or how bad it made them feel to read about Confederate Civil War Generals like William G. M. Davis, who fought to maintain slavery. If children are not allowed to read for themselves, they may never know that the sugarcoated white-lies they have been told about American History could actually be, in the words of author Hilary Elizabeth, “completely made-up nonsense.”

Abortion Is Retroactively IllegalIn Gilead, women found to have had an abortion are arrested, even if they had it prior to the founding of Gilead and in a place where abortion was legal. These women are sentenced to serve as handmaids to compensate for their abortion sin.

In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, the Republican legislature doesn’t think the 15-week ban goes far enough. They are pushing a six weeks ban. This is a time before most women even know they’re pregnant.

“Gender Treachery” Is IllegalAccording to the laws of Gilead, sexual intercourse is exclusively for procreation and is therefore only legally permitted between a man and a woman. Thus, homosexuality is illegal. All LGBTQ+ sexualities are viewed as sinful, a crime punishable by death by hanging on the wall in the town square.

In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, Disney lost its self-governing status because of their support of the gay community.  A “Don’t Say Gay” bill was passed in 2022, which is the state telling teachers what they can say in the classroom. A teacher can’t talk about gender identity with students. They are not allowed to use any pronoun except the one the child was assigned at birth.  Desantis also signed into law a bill banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.

DeSantis and his Republican Legislators are considering a bill to eliminate college major or minor in gender studies. They are considering legislation that would put a stop to any discussion of intersectionality (the interrelated nature of social groups such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group) at the college level, and are seeking to end all college diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

The Free Press Is Illegal—In Gilead, there is no freedom of the press. By not allowing women to read or write half the population is kept in ignorance. As stated by Hilary Elizabeth, “Concealment of information and truth is one of the most dangerous and easiest ways to control millions of people.”

In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, House Bill 991 in essence would force journalists to get permission from the Desantis’ government before they expressed their written opinions.  If the bill becomes law, if a journalist quotes an anonymous source according to this legislation, and is not willing to identify that source at trial, then anything stated by the anonymous source is automatically presumed to be false and therefore grounds for defamation.

Freedom Of Speech Is IllegalFreedom of speech is abolished in Gilead. Regulating what people can even say to one another and denying them the right to assembly and protest are methods of control that totalitarian regimes throughout human history have employed.

In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, the Department of Management Services has changed the rules for groups or individuals who want to reserve space inside the state Capital.  The changes require organizations seeking to reserve areas to make their requests through specific Administration officials. And that whatever event they have, must “align” with the mission of the state (Politico). In other words, no protests. A group of Florida taxpaying citizens would have to agree with Ron Desantis’ beliefs and his policies, or the group would not be given a permit to hold a meeting in the Capital.

The Canary in the Coal Mine

State Representative Anna Eskamani (D) Florida, said, “It’s important for us to ensure that the American people understand that what is happening in Florida is not what you want to happen across the country, if this man (Desantis) gets anywhere near the White House.”

Fabiola Santiago who writes for the Miami Herald said that “Republicans want whatever every dictator has: total domination over what people think, whom they love, what they read.  Total political control over law and policy without organized opposition to offer an alternative. Floridians must wake up. It’s imperative.”

State Representative Fentrice Driskell (D) Florida, points out that the nation should pay more attention to what is happening in Florida, “I do believe that this is of national interest because if people don’t want Florida’s present-day reality to become their future, folks need to know what Ron Desantis is doing here, because he does intend to run for president in 2024.

In a March 7, 2023, interview on the Joy Reid show, State Representative Anna Eskamani summed up her assessment of Governor DeSantis. “He’s trying to out Trump, Trump in every way that he can.  What does worry me though is just the consolidation of power that he has seized in Florida where we don’t have checks and balances anymore.  The legislative branch has totally just been co-opted by the Governor. Our judiciary, just like the federal Supreme Court has now been co-opted by the right as well. The fact that we are navigating these extreme policies in Florida, we’re the canary in the coal mine for the American people to give everyone a warning of what could happen if you don’t stop DeSantis now.”

Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, and his super-majority Republican Legislators, by passing a rapid succession of draconian laws, are demonstrating that the possibility of America becoming a totalitarian Gilead-like theonomic government is not just a good storyline for a bestselling book or a hit TV series.  They are showing us that America could actually become a real-life Handmaid’s Tale.

Staff Writer; Robert J. Walker

This brother is a retired Mississippi Educator. He is the author of several books including; 12 Characteristics of an Effective Teacher and The Plan of Salvation Kindle. He lives in Walls, Mississippi.

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