LTP News Sharing:
As the press is melting down with the claim Florida is whitewashing slavery, Politifact rides in to ignore the facts and protect the Vice President.
You have likely heard the latest outrage in the press concerning Florida and, by extension, Ron DeSantis. The latest concerns the release of the new 2023 State Academics Standards manuals, specifically the documents centered on the teaching of Social Studies. What has so many in the media outraged is that Florida allegedly claims that slavery was beneficial to blacks. And just like most every previous outrage with Florida/DeSantis – book bans, denying black history, “Don’t Say Gay” – it is all rooted in a lie.
This new hysteria claims that Florida schools are teaching that slavery had positive effects on blacks that they were able to use later in life and benefit themselves. There has been no shortage of journalists and pundits raging about the temerity of Florida’s Department of Education to sell the concept of slavery in this manner, and the Vice President has joined the chorus of those singing this prevarication.
In a recent speech, Harris claimed, “They want to replace history with lies.” This is the brazenness seen frequently from the left. She accuses others of spreading lies and gaslighting the nation as she delivers stark misinformation in an intentional deception.
Just a few facts need to be brought to the fore, and then we will get to the real comedy. This particular issue is all about the new course standards released this month for Florida schools. The aspect that has rankled so many is for the 6-8th grades, and honed down to one subject in the curriculum – so already the claim that “Florida Schools” are teaching this is weakened.
In the packet, there are dozens and dozens of modules, and what is generating the outrage is a portion that mentions that some skills some slaves developed could have been applied later to aid them personally. One of the criticisms of this has those decrying the standards claiming that Ron DeSantis should have turned to black people to get their assessment of these passages. The laughable aspect is that they think he orchestrated this “new” curriculum which, in fact, was written by a team of black scholars and professors.
For my daily media column at Townhall, I display instances when the press works to help the politicians they favor with one category called “Democratic Custodial Services,” and now, Politifact rides in to defend the honor of the Vice President in just such a fashion. The truth detectors at the site – it took three of them to assess this topic – looked at the comments made by Harris and then analyzed the Florida teaching guides, and managed to come up with a glowing assessment of her comments – and promptly undermined the narrative in the process.
The part of Florida’s new standards that Harris was citing is for grades six through eight. It says, “Examine the various duties and trades performed by slaves (e.g., agricultural work, painting, carpentry, tailoring, domestic service, blacksmithing, transportation).” The controversial part is in this “benchmark clarification” about slave labor: “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
You already start to see how limited this controversial aspect has become. In just the middle school guides, what everyone is excited over is a part of the portion of that middle school curriculum. But it gets better…or worse, depending on the perspective. Politifact details the specific components that Harris refers to, and it becomes an utter mockery of the raging coverage all of this has generated.
Although the new standards include many conventional lesson points about the history of slavery, they also include a sentence that enslaved people developed skills that “could be applied for their personal benefit.”
There you have it. The 216-page Social Studies guide has hundreds of modules, within which are listed far more entries for lessons, and all of this hectoring in the press and from Democrats is centered on a single sentence. Then, as if to discredit themselves, the viscounts of vérité at Politifact go on to cite the bulk of the slavery topics taught in the Florida schools instruction manual.
The rest of the document includes specific standards about slavery, including the development of slavery and the conditions for Africans as they were brought to America. It also covers how slave codes resulted in enslaved people becoming property without rights, abolitionist movements, state and federal laws, revolts by slaves, and the Civil War.
Lessons about Black history include later eras such as Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, contributions of Black Americans during both world wars, and the modern Civil Rights movement.
Now let’s do some generalized calculations. Amid all the subjects listed above, among all of the sections concerning these topics, and the voluminous amount of modules and chapters listed in the 200+ pages, a solitary sentence is cherry-plucked with a pair of tweezers and used to describe the entirety of the sweeping coverage of the subject of slavery. This would comprise a minuscule percentage of the criteria. What does Politifact measure as Kamala Harris uses this shaving of the content?
This is a fact-checking site that acknowledges Florida is teaching the breadth of the topic of slavery and delivering all of the worst aspects for students to absorb, but if you point out a lone pull quote and use it to label the entirety of the curriculum, Politifact will applaud you for delivering the truth.
We have known this for quite some time, but this type of judgment from the “fact” checkers leads us to our grading of the site with the only appropriate measurement: Mostly Useless.