It's no show of strength to deny people the ability to think for themselves and learn their own history. It's an expression of fear.
DeSantis and his ilk are truly despicable. Another black voice who should be revisited is James Baldwin, one of my personal heroes. He once opined “It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.” These words resonate even more today that when they were penned.
Again Steven Beschloss you are exactly on point in your post. I quote this line: "it strikes me that what DeSantis is showcasing is his cowardice and his fear of others." His comments before the election, claiming he was called by God to act as he acts, lead as he leads, was a definite indication that he needed to inflate himself to project strength because he didn't naturally have it in himself. Many have tried to keep out immigrants because they fear immigrants will end up taking over this country from white people, a false narrative in my opinion. Just look at how our country was built and made stronger by immigrants. So, DeSantis needs to minimize education about African American History in our country because he is afraid that the truth will come out, that young people will better understand the history of race in our country, that young people will be come enlightened, and thus they could reject DeSantis and his views. Yes, I truly believe, and agree with you, that DeSantis is speaking out of cowardice. And this is not good for our country. Learning from history keeps us from repeating past mistakes. If our young people are allowed to learn from history they are likely to reject DeSantis and his views. In my humble opinion, DeSantis is speaking from cowardice. And cowardice isn't an attribute we want in our leaders, not in FL (so glad I don't live there) and certainly not as a potential president of the US. I hope the American people see through the DeSantis rhetoric; and I hope they reject it.
"let me control the textbooks and I will control the state..."- Adolf Hitler.
Add in Abrahamic lessons on obedience & fear of the educated:
"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools are secular & a "general" moral instruction(indoctrination) without a religious (white protestant) foundation is built on air"- Adolf Hitler.
"He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future."
- Adolf Hitler.
All for the prepare the ground for:
"All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the LEAST" intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach." - Adolf Hitler.
I wonder who's playbook they are using? Hmmm.
The main lesson to be drawn from the cowardice of the College Board is the absolute validation of the basic theses of Critical Race Theory. The ongoing strength of white supremacist ideology permeates even supposedly objective academic institutions. A far right ideologue and his cohort can prevent students throughout the entire country from learning about important Black political movements, such as Black Lives Matter, and can silence the voices of critical Black writers in what is supposedly a COLLEGE LEVEL COURSE!
The whole episode is despicable and I fervently hope that Black parents and others refuse to allow their children to signup for this whitewashed nonsense purporting to be African American history. The College Board has proven that it’s a tool of white bigotry, just as the intellectuals who developed the Critical Race Theory analytical tools would have told us to expect.
Thank you Steven, for your thought-provoking writing. I did a Google search for Ron DeSantis, and learned his academic credentials: Yale University (2001), Harvard Law School (2005), Naval Justice School (2005). I believe the issue of racism runs deep within the education system, particularly along the lines of social privilege and economic entitlement. It is notable that DeSantis grandparents were born in Italy, making his ancestors immigrants. Therefore, I presume he is selective in his acceptance of what nationalities can come to the United States. DeSantis is also a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, which I interpret as being an advocate for his own freedoms. America was forgotten, somewhere along the political path to power.
I still believe that the real problem is systemic poverty--unfunded public education, unsafe housing and income too low to meet basic needs. If we acted "as if" and managed this, we would stop punishing blacks and others on the "lower rungs" and things would improve. I am the grandchild of a persecuted people and I believe that many of us carry that trauma into our lives. It is not just Blacks who have lost their families and culture. I think the AP class is less transformative in attitude than true history/sociology. De Santis and others are keeping the great divide up by their rhetoric based on race, but we should really be talking about equal opportunity.
One of the best descriptions of DeSantis I have read.
Thanks for this thoughtful, as always, article, Steven. My sense of DeSantis is that HE is not necessarily afraid but, rather, is a complete opportunist who sees that pandering to the Trump/MAGA partisans, who ARE afraid in the way you described, is a way to advance his political ambitions. Either way, equally dangerous for our country's well-being
Steven, as a resident of Florida it is horrifying and embarrassing to have “death-Santis” sitting in Tallahassee. There is no such thing as CRT, and it is a nomenclature created by white nationalists to silence any discussion of racism, and also classism as an extension. It is a nomenclature designed to inflame emotion and dangerous passion without being able to be pinned down as one particular area or issue.
You are right, it is about not teaching history, sociologist, anthropology or political science that would address the serious issues we faced in the past, facing today, and how to make a better future. As a lapsed historian I find this maddening and horrifying. Treatises like Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” should be required reading.
As for the malignant narcissist Death-Santis is, he is totally insecure in himself and craves the attention and “attaboy” from those who he claims to champion while effectively killing them by spreading lies on COVID, history, and effectively killing their chances at betterment by destroying the underlying foundation of the Florida economy which increasingly relies on an educated and sophisticated work force. Telling the simple truths would deny him those accolades, and not resonate with those in the know because, despite his Ivy League creds, he is mediocre at best and he knows it.
This video reflects my experience as a 30-year leader of AP Teacher workshops. The College Board is not reacting to that governor.
I live in Florida, only because 2 daughters and grandchildren are here. It is a pretty state.Even car washes are landscaped. Roadsides are mowed and free of litter. Flowers thrive. Lemon trees grow.Sunshine. Beach views. BUT.......22M live here; 120M tourists visit-even from eastern Europe.
318,885 moved here in 2022. They tend to be older, more conservative,wealthier and thus, Republicans.. Traffic is horrible,even on side streets, there are beggars at most intersections, there are two seasons - summer(feels like over 100, humidity, even underclothes get wet) & February although climate change has made this winter more like a nice northern summer. There is building going on on every street, houses 5yards apart, 5 story apartment buildings, grocery stores, fast food. Alligators thrive as do fire ants, snakes, bugs. It's not Paradise !! And worst of all, DeSantis, Scott and Rubio. The population is pretty divided evenly by party though Republicans are gaining. One rarely but does at times , hear political conversation although they wear trump shirts, red hats. One man, older, the "deplorable" look, had on a rubber bracelet that said F ... Biden. I asked him why. Because he's a crook. However, a man with real shoes and not flipflops and a tie on said we would have to agree to disagree. A woman complained that rich getting richer, poor, poorer.I said are you a Democrat? Why do you ask, she said. I mentioned the tax cut for the rich , the desire to cut soc.sec. and medicare to pay for it. She knew nothing about that. No, I'm a Republican, she said. A pastor at a local smallish megachurch cried in front of his audience because trump lost. I was accosted by spiel from an evangelist while looking at the flower section at Walmart.
I don't know why the gov would be afraid. He was born and grew up in FL, a slave state. Many still deny the Civil War was about slavery. So, cutting out any courses about it fits right in to the culture. I think it is about ego and power. He was best at everything, even a baseball scholarship to Yale. He graduated magna cum laude in History, so I am sure he studied slavery. He has a Harvard law degree, a naval officer, a bronze star medal. You get used to being number one, I would think, thus, his ego and desire for power, to follow his past achievements. He calls living in FL being free, yet he bans books, interferes with educational truths, banned masks during the pandemic telling kids behind him during a speech to take them off. Like other Republicans, he has no time for LGBTQ people; why he would be afraid of them I don't know.The list is long: Leonardo de Vinci, King James I, commissioner of the King James Bible, Shakespeare. Caesar, Michelangelo, Walt Whitman, Florence Nightingale, Sally Ride, Mary Trump - there is no end to the list. Will he ban all books and study of these people? He requires all girls to register their periods to see if they are trans people or if they get abortions. He has acted unconscionably toward immigrants although his grandmother squeaked into the US from Italy, unable to read or write and was chain migration, her husband already here. This is freedom? No, he is an angry man, full of himself, with an ego that tells him the sky is the limit for him. He deserves it. He craves it. There have been many Hitlers. Mao responsible for 45 million deaths, Stalin 20 million; like DeSantis and learning about slavery, Xi Jinping will not allow the truth about Mao to be taught. There will be others. One can only hope that the friction between him and trump will disrupt the GOP vote(there is trouble between McCarthy and McConnell, too) and the Democrats will prevail.
It’s not only fear, it’s insecurity. This man is supposedly a well-educated man, from the Ivy-league dontcha know - but you wouldn’t know by his actions. He is barely concealing his racism and just waiting for the misogyny and soon to be antisemitism…
Highly recommend. Especially during black history month: https://www.capitalgazette.com/opinion/columns/ac-ce-carl-snowden-column-feb5-20230203-md4t2rdfdva7nar75w5yziuz4e-story.html
The one thing I think missing in the national narrative, is the lack of discussion of the influence of, what Jane Meyer called, dark money. Justice Powell's memo has been a road map for how Corporations can take control of our COUNTRY. Powell wrote it in 1972 and so far they've accomplished most of their goals. Citizens United has to be one of the crowning jewels, essentially allowing the open bribery of political leaders, they might as well wear corporate logos on their jackets like athletes. DeSantis is the embodiment of the Powell Doctrine, complete Corporate control and the destruction of Democracy.
Steven, you're right on the money. DeSantis is a coward, stoking fear in his white supremacist followers. He has created his little red bubble where people are told how to think and what to read so they will worship him as a white savior. He's more dangerous than Trump, because he's smarter. Fortunately, he has no discernible charisma.