MSNBC analyst suggests Florida college professors could be jailed or fined for criticizing DeSantis

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Liberal MSNBC analyst Fernand Amandi suggested Wednesday that university professors in the state of Florida could be punished with something worse than dismissal for speaking out against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

During an appearance on “The ReidOut,” Amandi repeated allegations by some professors at the University of Florida that they were told not to criticize DeSantis or the university’s policies related to the coronavirus when interacting with the media. He also called DeSantis an autocrat and suggested he was a fascist by citing recent claims that the governor wanted to create his own “paramilitary militia.”

“This is part and parcel with Ron DeSantis. Imagine on the heels of the announcement last week, where he now wants to build his own private paramilitary militia. This is an autocrat acting in the manner of an autocrat,” Amandi said after host Joy Reid asked him about the allegations of pressure being put on professors.

Last week, DeSantis’ proposal to reinstate the “Florida State Guard,” a civilian-military force that would assist in the event of a state emergency, prompted alarm from left-leaning politicians and pundits. Dozens of other states have such entities, however.

Florida law professor Danaya Wright, Joy Reid and Fernand Armandi discuss allegations of pressure on Florida professors to not criticize Gov. Ron DeSantis. (Screenshot/MSNBC)
(Screenshot/MSNBC)

Amandi added it was surprising that there weren’t more resignations and protests by faculty members at the University of Florida and other institutions across the state for what he referred to as a “declaration of war on academic freedom.”

“We know these commandments, these pronouncements are indeed coming from above,” Amandi said. “The message is very clear. Don’t criticize, don’t say anything untoward, don’t make the dear leader look bad, because if you do, we will pull your funding, and we’ll pull your job, and in the future we may do worse. And that, my friends, is what fascism and autocracy sounds like.”

It wasn’t clear what Amandi meant by saying “we may do worse,” although it appears he was suggesting professors could be imprisoned.

GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, on Nov. 6, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada
(Fox News )

According to the Miami Herald, a report released Monday by a University of Florida Faculty Senate committee stated employees were told “not to criticize the Governor of Florida or UF policies related to COVID-19 in media interactions.” 

“[The report] says they were told not to use their UF titles or affiliation in written commentary or to give oral presentations. And faculty at UF Health expressed concerns over funding being in jeopardy if they did not adopt the state’s stance on pandemic regulations in opinion articles,” The Herald wrote Tuesday.

DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw responded to the claims of alleged pressure on professors as “vague, unspecified, theoretical, and baseless.”

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