DeSantis Rebukes Ramaswamy, Defends Ban on Pro-Hamas Groups
Governor Ron DeSantis on Sunday defended his order to disband pro-Hamas student groups at Florida universities, pushing back against criticism from his GOP primary opponents. DeSantis argued on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that shutting down the groups was a matter of stopping “material support to terrorism” rather than an issue of free speech.
Since the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel left over 1,300 people dead–including 31 Americans–DeSantis has repeatedly made the case for cracking down on pro-Hamas and anti-Semitic activity.
“This is not cancel culture, this group, they said in the aftermath of the Hamas attack that they don’t just stand in solidarity, that they are part of this Hamas movement,” DeSantis said to host Kristen Welker.
“And so, yeah, you have a right to go out and demonstrate, but you can’t provide material support to terrorism. They’ve linked themselves to Hamas, and so we absolutely decertified them.”
“That’s not a First Amendment issue. That’s a material support to terrorism issue,” he added.
DeSantis on why he’s shutting down college groups advocating for Hamas.
Says we should not be committing national suicide by allowing these groups to gain a foothold and flourish in America. pic.twitter.com/KwuA3M45GX
— Josh Power 🇺🇸 (@JoshPower80) October 29, 2023
Following the initial attack on Israel by Hamas, the National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group issued a “toolkit” calling the massacre “a historic win for the Palestinian resistance.”
The statement went on to specify,
“We as Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement,”
At least two chapters of the SJP were organized on the Florida campus. Florida university system chancellor Ray Rodrigues swiftly moved to shut them down under the direction of DeSantis.
“Their own words are saying they’re part of this organization, that they don’t just stand in solidarity, that they don’t just support what they did, but that this is their movement, too,” DeSantis told Welker. “So once you hitch your wagon to a group like Hamas, that takes you out of the realm of normal activity, and that’s something that we’re going to take action against.”
Free speech doesn’t just protect the ideas we love. It protects the ideas we hate. The idiotic college “pro-Palestine” student groups are dead wrong to excuse genocidal attacks against Jews and spout disgusting anti-semitism, but one of the things that makes us different from… pic.twitter.com/knDsQsXbKJ
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) October 26, 2023
Last week, fellow 2024 Presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy criticized DeSantis over the order, accusing him of violating the Constitution.
“It’s a shameful political ploy for [Ron DeSantis] to ban the existence of pro-Palestinian student groups at Florida universities,” Ramaswamy said in a statement published to X.
“It’s unconstitutional. It’s utter hypocrisy for someone who railed against left-wing cancel culture. Conservatives should be allowed to criticize BLM or vaccine mandates, and crazy liberals should be able to criticize Israel or the West even if they’re dead wrong about it.”
On Sunday, DeSantis rebuked Ramaswamy’s comments, saying that allowing terrorist sympathizers to flourish would be equivalent to committing suicide as a country.
“Are we just going to commit suicide as a country and let groups metastasize who are openly siding with brutal terrorist organizations?” he asked. “I don’t think that’s a recipe for a successful country. I want to have a country where we’re protected from that stuff. So I think we made the right decision. I stand by it 100%.”
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