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Rich Lowry: DeSantis is right on African American studies

Rich Lowry

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is accused of a long parade of scares to which a new count has now been added – allegedly going against the tenet of African-American history.

Florida rejected the College Board’s pilot course for Advanced Placement African American Studies, and the decision was treated in progressive circles like the curriculum equivalent of George Wallace standing in the school front door.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the state’s decision “unintelligible.” According to Jean-Pierre, DeSantis wants to “block the study of black Americans”. She remarked menacingly, “These types of actions are not new, especially after what we’re sadly seeing out of Florida.”

Florida Senator Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, said rejecting the course was tantamount to “whitewashing” American history. Jones claims that “we’re going back to square one and seeing that, once again, we have to defend ourselves to be legitimate in America.”

Except that there is obviously a difference between objecting to the ideological content of a pending pilot course and erasing the history of African Americans as such.

This is the typical game of pretending that African American history can only be taught through the biased political lens favored by the left.

When the Red States resist critical race theory, their proponents make it sound like the result is that students never learn about the transatlantic slave trade, the 13th Amendment, or Frederick Douglass.

That is absurd. No sane person objects to teaching American history fully and truthfully. (In Florida, the controversial “Stop WOKE Act” itself dictates that instructors should teach the history of African peoples, the Middle Passage, the experience of slavery, the abolition, and the effects of segregation and other forms of discrimination.)

The problem is when the curriculum is used as an ideological weapon to inculcate a distorted, one-sided worldview, and here Florida has the College Board dead right.

The College Board has not released the pilot curriculum publicly, but as documented by conservative writer Stanley Kurtz and a publication called The Florida Standard, it really gets out of hand when it comes to current issues. The syllabus positively portrays the Black Lives Matter and Reparation movements and commends the writings of a group of writers on the left, from Robin DG Kelley to Michelle Alexander, without rejoinder.

Prejudice aside, with the state of American historical and civic knowledge on the verge of collapse, who thinks high school students need to brush up on Black Queer Studies? The syllabus explains that this topic “explores the concept of queer color critique, grounded in Black feminism and intersectionality, as a lens for Black Studies that shifts sexuality studies toward racial analysis.”

If anyone wants to marinate in this filth, he or she can certainly wait until they do so at the college, which specializes in wasting students’ time and spouting ridiculous swear words and lies.

This is the more fundamental point. Such “study” programs—African American, women, queer, etc.—are intellectually corrupt at the university level and inherently biased, and should be kept out of the realm of K-12 public education.

It should come as no surprise that an AP curriculum developed with input from university-level practitioners of African American studies would contain all the same perversities and distorted ideas.

Florida should be commended for saying no, and other states that care about a solid education should do the same.

African American history is American history. It was meant to be taught as an integral part of American history—and it has been. Only when we are sure that all students know this history should we be ready to specialize further, and never when it is the poisoned fruit of “identitarian” courses in universities that take it for granted that their students encourage it should be thoughtlessly embracing progressive attitudes and beliefs.

This struggle is not about blocking history or erasing the country’s sins, but about drawing a line between Hifalutin political advocacy and a thorough, truthful education in America’s past.

Rich Lowry is a syndicated columnist.

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