Right-wing media figures are now lecturing a number of Black Republican elected officials who have criticized part of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new history curriculum standards on slavery, which the Florida State Board of Education approved on July 19. The new Black history standards will include instruction claiming that during the centuries of slavery in America, enslaved people “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
The Florida Education Association, which represents about 150,000 teachers, called the new standards “a disservice to Florida’s students” and “a big step backward.” The NAACP called the history standards “a sanitized and dishonest telling of Black history,” and Vice President Kamala Harris said that Florida’s extremist leaders “want to replace history with lies,” asking: “How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” After DeSantis’ team defended the new standards by comparing them to an Advanced Placement course from the College Board, the company rejected the comparison.
Several Black GOP lawmakers also criticized the new standards.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who is also running in the Republican presidential primary, criticized his competitor DeSantis, saying: “There is no silver lining in slavery. Slavery was really about separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating.”
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), who has endorsed DeSantis rival former President Donald Trump, wrote on social media that “the attempt to feature the personal benefits of slavery is wrong & needs to be adjusted.”
Rep. John James (R-MI), who has also endorsed Trump, criticized DeSantis and his administration over the history standards’ handling of slavery, and Trump supporter Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX) made two social media posts criticizing DeSantis and the new standards.
Many right-wing media figures joined with the DeSantis team in attacking the critics, variously telling this small number of Black Republican officials that they are in effect misguided in their criticism:
- National Review’s John W. Bush wrote that Scott is “feeding into lazy tropes” with his criticism. Bush also complained in his National Review article that Scott is unfairly tarnishing the supposed “blueprint that Florida conservatives have been building for the last decade.” [National Review, 7/30/23]
- The Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo to Hunt: “Nobody ever said ‘slavery was a net benefit.’ Delete this tweet and apologize.” [Twitter/X, 7/28/23]
- TheBlaze host Steve Deace: Donalds is “trying to race bait Ron DeSantis.” [Twitter/X, 7/26/23]
- Deace: “Donalds basically debased himself for Trump by siding with Kamala to race-bait his own side. No. Quarter. We get enough lying about race and race-baiting from Democrats.” [Twitter/X, 7/26/23]
- Far-right troll Mike Cernovich: “Has Christian Senator Tim Scott apologized for his wicked and divisive lie about DeSantis and Florida’s academic standards?” [Twitter/X, 7/30/23]
- Fox News chief political analyst Brit Hume: “DeSantis is right about this. Tim Scott is wrong and so is Byron Donalds.” [Twitter/X, 6/29/23]
- Fox host Mark Levin: “I must say I'm disappointed by Tim Scott. I'm disappointed by Wesley Hunt, disappointed by Byron Donalds.” On his radio program, Levin said he was “disappointed” by these Black Republicans before launching into a defense of Florida’s new history standards on slavery. [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 7/28/23]
- The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro likewise said he's “very disappointed with Tim Scott” over his criticism of Florida's education curriculum. Shapiro said Scott “promptly sided with Kamala Harris, and he sided with the Congressional Black Caucus,” and is “being disingenuous because he fully well knows what the -- the story is with Florida's education curriculum.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 7/28/23]
- Daily Wire host Matt Walsh posted to social media: “Any Republican who repeats Kamala Harris talking points loses huge amounts of credibility. Very disappointing to see from Byron Donalds.” [Twitter/X, 7/27/23]
- Later, Walsh said “it’s absolutely disgraceful” for Scott to say that there is “no silver lining in slavery.” [The Daily Wire, The Matt Walsh Show, 7/28/23]
- Radio host Erick Erickson wrote that Black Republicans criticizing the Florida standards were confused by press reports and misled by their staff. Erickson wrote that “four out of five black Republicans in Congress, including Tim Scott, have criticized the guidelines based on the inaccurate press reports,” and that “their staff, opposed to DeSantis, have an incentive to not be fully transparent about the standards.” [Substack, Erick Erickson’s Show Notes, 7/31/23]
- Fox News Radio host Guy Benson asked in his Townhall column: “Why on Earth are some Republicans boosting Kamala’s ‘slavery’ lie about Florida?” Benson accused the Black GOP lawmakers of spreading “propaganda” and demanded that they “should rally around” DeSantis instead of criticizing him. [Townhall, 7/31/23]
- Fox Business host David Asman agreed with Benson’s criticism of the Black GOP lawmakers. Benson said “there have been other members of Congress, Republicans, saying that DeSantis and Florida called it a net benefit to slaves, which is crazy. That’s just a completely invented-out-of-whole-cloth attack that even the left didn’t attempt. So I'm not really sure what some of these GOP members are doing. I hope they'll reconsider,” and Asman responded: “I agree with you.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 7/31/23]
- Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter wrote that Scott “consistently defaults to submission to the woke left,” citing his commentary on the Florida curriculum as an example. Schlichter wrote that Scott is “too weak to be a modern Republican” and “chose to be a loser in what should be the defining moment of his campaign” by criticizing DeSantis’ history standards. [Townhall, 7/31/23]
- Washington Examiner commentary editor Conn Carroll wrote that DeSantis “crushe[d] Scott for echoing Kamala Harris’s lies.” Carroll wrote that “accepting Harris’s false narrative is exactly what Scott did here, and DeSantis is right to call him out for it.” [Washington Examiner, 7/31/23]