Ron DeSantis Stumbles While Trying To Positively Spin Slavery Amid Campaign Spiral

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Somehow, new educational standards have been developed in Florida that will include an essentially positive spin on slavery, outlining the teaching to kids that some of those enslaved in the United States developed skills they could use for their personal benefit.

Though he said he was not personally and directly involved in the development of these new standards, Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis defended the new approach at a recent press conference, insisting there was a well-founded basis in the historical record for whatever the ostensible experts behind these new standards were doing. Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Fla.), a state legislator in Florida, rebuked DeSantis publicly.

“Enslaved people were punished by whipping, shackling, hanging, beating, burning, mutilation, branding, rape, & imprisonment,” she wrote on Twitter. “But according to Ron DeSantis and the Department of Education, we can’t forget the “personal benefits.” I’m disgusted. Our kids deserve better.”

Under the new standards, the instruction regarding these purported benefits to slaves from their captivity is set for middle school students. Also among targets of concern is a grouping in these educational standards of purported incidents of violence by Black Americans with massacres targeting Black communities in locales like Ocoee, which is in central Florida.

Broadly, Republican politicians have frequently sought to discourage a critical examination of destruction seen in the nation’s past, as exemplified by the staunch opposition from many in that corner to the prospect of removing or relocating public statues honoring figures like officials in the Confederacy. Republicans have also broadly united behind lambasting critical race theory, which is an academic approach assuming racism is expressed through the structures of society in various parts. In Florida, GOP officials have pursued even a broad limit on the teaching of white privilege. Known in shorthand as the Stop WOKE Act, the same law that preceded this update to the state’s standards for teaching about slavery also restricted businesses and institutes of post-secondary education, though applicable provisions in those contexts have been blocked in court.