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OPINION

The Lie About Florida Schools and Slavery Gets Completely Exposed

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

We are on week #2 of the press, Democrats, and the Biden administration continuing to deliver the same scathing narrative that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is commanding Florida schools to revise the historical impact of slavery. Media outlets have been delivering red-faced punditry, and the White House saw fit to send Vice President Kamala Harris to the Sunshine State to deliver a rebuke of a speech, decrying that anyone would dare say slavery benefitted black people. It is all so deeply dramatic serving as a case of grand theater. 

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Unsurprisingly, it is all rooted in a lie. 

To set the stage properly, in order to reboot this storyline, first understand it is all centered on the fact that the Florida Department of Education recently issued revisions to all school curriculums in the coming year. In the guidebook for the middle school courses, under the topic of Social Studies, there was found to be an entry concerning the skills that some slaves acquired and were able to apply later in their lives. This has been cited as the revisionism of the reality of slavery and suggests blacks, as a race, benefitted from that era of our history. It reads:

Examine the various duties and trades performed by slaves (e.g., agricultural work, painting, carpentry, tailoring, domestic service, blacksmithing, transportation). Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.

To grasp the extent of this portion of the course guide, we get the full impact from PolitiFact. As we covered in "Riffed From The Headlines," in their defense of the vice president's claims, the fact-checkers declared Harris was "Mostly True" in her speech slamming FDOE and Ron DeSantis. But in the course of doing so, the outlet manages to expose the sham behind it all:

Although the new standards include many conventional lesson points about the history of slavery, they also include a sentence that enslaved people developed skills that "could be applied for their personal benefit." 

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Just take a moment to absorb the lack of enormity behind this – "a sentence." The course guide that was issued is over 200 pages, with numerous modules listed therein and multiple revisions under those modules. PolitiFact even listed out the numerous horrors of slavery that are (and have always been) included in the lessons in Florida schools. Yet, despite this wealth of content and teaching of all aspects of slavery, they approve of Kamala – and the press – reclassifying the entire curriculum based on a solitary sentence. 

Now arrives a completely disqualifying detail that will see all these critics and mewling media mouthpieces reduced to silence. Ron DeSantis' Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern delivers a piece of information that will not sit well with these prevaricating critics, as it concerns the previous controversy surrounding the Florida schools' curriculum. Recall there was significant upheaval when the governor rejected a new course foundation offered up to the FDOE, the debated AP African American History. This course was sent to be revised due to the inclusion of inaccurate social activist lectures, heavy amounts of Critical Race Theory, and other elements not foundational to accurate history teachings.

This resulted in very similar claims being made, where it was said Florida was eliminating black history. Understand this rejection was of a new curriculum being proposed, not eliminating existing teachings of black history. This is because Florida law mandates that black history, slavery, and the Holocaust be taught in Florida schools. (Take one guess who signed the law making this a requirement.) Already, we see that the politicization of these decisions is not rooted in facts. 

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Now comes the glaring reality. 

To this day, there persists outrage that any teaching of slavery would dare include elements suggesting that former slaves at one point would have been able to utilize learned skills while they had been indentured. This is said to "sanitize" the horrors of slavery and whitewash the pernicious practice of people used as property. Any teaching that dares include this controversial stance is considered racist and intolerant. Well… that highly-praised AP African American History curriculum has nearly the exact same language touting the exact same sentiment. Redfern included the section of that course study with the language to this effect. 

Just to reiterate, this identical passage is part of the curriculum that the loudest critics today, decrying this teaching, had been demanding to be installed in Florida's schools. It underscores, specifically, that there is no genuine outrage at the content or, at least at the balance of it, in the entirety of the courses being taught. It is entirely rooted in what can be politicized and who can be targeted politically. 

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Here is the best way to see the vacancy of these outrages. Today, Ron DeSantis is slammed over the inclusion of this passage on slavery benefits. Months earlier, he was slammed for not approving the AP African American History that included this passage. Can those shrieking over Ron DeSantis "whitewashing" slavery explain how this very same element was something they were mandating he needed to accept months prior? 

No, they cannot, and they will not. Because none of these accusations have been about the accuracy of history, it is all about impeeding his political future. 

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