Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) claims that the truth about slavery is that “nobody” questioned it until the American Revolution, only to draw criticism from historians who know better.
In a continuance of his war on education last month, DeSantis pushed yet another white nationalist propaganda point in a speech by claiming that “nobody” questioned slavery until Americans did so during the American Revolution and implied that Americans came together to abolish it.
“Nobody had questioned it before we decided as Americans that we are endowed by our creator with inalienable rights and that we are all created equal,” he said. “Then that birthed abolition movements.”
Here’s the video via Twitter:
In Florida, we require the truth about American history to be taught in our classrooms.
We will not allow schools to twist history to align with an ideological agenda. pic.twitter.com/IlRe6UpC6j
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 20, 2022
Of course, many people had already questioned the evil practice of slavery prior to the American Revolution, including prominent philosophers, politicians, and even the slaves themselves, whom DeSantis made a point to ignore because Republicans don’t care about black voices.
As for his claim that “we decided as Americans” to question slavery, the founding fathers protected slavery in the Constitution and did not even consider slaves as whole persons. In fact, they were treated like livestock. Furthermore, DeSantis’ own state of Florida is one of the original Confederate states that seceded from the Union in opposition to ending slavery. Had Florida and the rest of the Confederacy gotten their way, slavery would still be legal.
In response to DeSantis, Brown University professor Karin Wulf presented the facts to Newsweek.
“The idea of natural rights didn’t originate with the American revolutionaries; they were reflecting ideas that were widespread among political thinkers, perhaps most obviously the 17th-century English political philosopher John Locke,” Wulf noted. “The United States as a government did not act against slavery in any form until 1807 (prohibition of the Atlantic slave trade) and acted in key ways to protect it right up to the Civil War (the fugitive slave act).”
“Most egregiously, the idea that ‘no one’ questioned slavery erases enslaved people themselves who were active in resisting slavery both as individuals and collectively and in refusing the logic and legality of their enslavement,” Wulf continued.
Other historians also called out DeSantis for spreading misinformation about American history, with one even accusing him of trying to ride white nationalism to election victory.
But this is what Republicans have been doing for years. They have maliciously white-washed American history to downplay the plight of people of color while glorifying the Confederacy as if it was not racist or fascist. The fact is that the South fought for the right to own other human beings and they murdered Americans on the battlefield in a failed effort to achieve that goal. And these same states have continued to treat people of color as less than human ever since, even actively trying to deny them the vote.
Controlling education is part of the GOP scheme to produce a young voting base for their party, a base that will support their white nationalist agenda. Americans need to stop racists like DeSantis from remaining in political power if we want our children to learn the real history of our country.
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