Conservatives are often hesitant to criticize other conservatives.
Florida issued its guidelines for teaching history last month, including a set of standards that covered the issue of slavery in grades 6 through 8.
It’s likely that what happened next would have been a big yawn for most folks, until Kamala Harris pointed it out in one of the few speeches she’s ever given in coherent English.
The vice president referenced a section of the new guidelines which read as follows:
“Examine the various duties and trades performed by slaves (e.g. agricultural work, painting, carpentry, tailoring, domestic service, blacksmithing, transportation).”
So far, so good.
But then the standards make the unnecessary leap to this controversial point:
“Instruction [will] include how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Kamala being Kamala, she managed to turn this into an opportunity to rant about racism, saying to a receptive crowd that “Just yesterday, in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery. They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it. We who share a collective experience in knowing we must honor history and our duty in the context of legacy.”
I rarely agree with the vice president on anything. Her voice scares me. Her past treatment of Brett Kavanaugh, lie after lie from the Senate floor, repels me and makes her a figure of immense disdain.
She was picked as Joe Biden’s running mate because she checked off the right boxes, including the one that says “make friends with the candidate who called you a racist, you know, that little girl, senator, on the bus, that was her.”
But she has a point. It really never ends well when you try and find a positive spin about slavery.
After Kamala made her statements about Florida trying to point out how some slaves actually “benefited” from slavery, a number of progressives picked up the chant and it became a thing on social media.
The problem is, it should have been a thing. It should have been brought to the attention of the public, moaned about by the grifter hosts on MSNBC for a few days, and then put to rest with a clear acknowledgement from us — from conservatives — that this was a mistake, and that the sentence needed to be removed from the curriculum.
Instead what happened was the typical circling of the wagons, with some ridiculous narrative twisting from people like Twitter darling Allie Beth Stuckey, a podcast host who continued to argue that slavery taught slaves resilience.
This is an actual tweet from this prolific pundit:
“What’s more offensive? Saying some slaves benefitted from skills they learned while enslaved, or using slavery to cover for your anti-DeSantis grift?”
“I’m pretty sure, blondie, it’s saying slavery had an upside. My God, I never realized the conservative movement had such mediocre shills.”
Imagine, for a course on the Holocaust, that you suggest that skills Jews and other prisoners of the Nazi regime developed might have benefited them if they were eventually liberated.
Imagine saying that Anne Frank honed some amazing journaling skills while in hiding from the SS. Imagine suggesting that the experiences Primo Levi and Eli Weisel lived through in their respective captivity taught them resilience, and that what they learned became the basis of some of the greatestliterature of all time.
Imagine doing that.
On second thought, imagine screaming back that this is madness, cruel and utterly repulsive.
That’s what I would do. That’s what we should all do.
When my father went to Mississippi in 1967, he met some men and women who maintained an amazing sense of dignity even under the oppression of Jim Crow.
It never occurred to him to think that Jim Crow benefited them in some ways by helping them become “resilient.”
I’m very sad that some conservatives doubled down when they were told how wrong they were. I’m angry that they tried to gaslight us into believing we were the crazy folk.
And I am again reminded that if you tolerate mediocrity from your friends, you cannot then criticize it in your enemies.
Copyright 2023 Christine Flowers, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected].