A columnist with The New York Times defended Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration for rejecting an advanced placement (AP) African American History course.
The columnist, Columbia linguist John McWhorter, said the course is “advocacy” rather than educational due to its emphasis on “left-leaning writers,” viewpoints and a lack of opposing arguments from the political right. The Florida Department of Education (DOE) rejected the course for containing components of critical race theory (CRT) and queer theory, which the state of Florida banned from its school system.
“[E]ven a stopped clock is right twice a day, and in terms of how we tell the story of Black America, the board did the right thing, whether because of DeSantis’s threat or for more high-minded reasons,” he wrote.
He pointed to the lessons focusing on the Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter, and reparations. He named the “left-leaning” authors Amiri Baraka, Molefi Kete Asante and Manning Marable, whose works are all part of the course’s curriculum.
“But Black history has been ever so much more than protest and professional pessimism; note how hard it is to imagine any other group of people whose history is written with this flavor so dominant,” McWhorter wrote. “This is not education but advocacy. And in no sense does racism mean that the difference has no meaning. The key issue is the difference between opinions that are considered and debated and opinions that are mostly uncontested and perhaps considered uncontestable — essentially opinions that are treated as if they were facts.”
He pointed to the matter of CRT and how it will likely present opinions of minority people as fact, rather than as a disputed opinion. The course included lessons on intersectionality and a reading by Eduardo Bonilla Silva, which “examines in detail how Whites talk, think, and account for the existence of racial inequality and makes clear that color-blind racism is as insidious now as ever.” (RELATED: College Board Releases Reformed Curriculum After DeSantis Ditches AP Course That Taught ‘Queer Theory’)
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
“Some C.R.T. advocates, for example, conclude that systemic oppression means that views from those oppressed via intersectionality must be accepted without question, as a kind of group narrative that renders it egregious to quibble over the details and nuances of individual experience,” McWhorter continued. “As the C.R.T. pioneer Richard Delgado put it, nonwhite people should protest based on a “broad story of dashed hopes and centuries-long mistreatment that afflicts an entire people and forms the historical and cultural background of your complaint.”
McWhorter argued that the lack of content revolving around black conservatives in the course indicates that the left-wing argument will go unchallenged.
“To dismiss those in disagreement as either naïve or malevolent is unsophisticated, suggesting that racial enlightenment requires comfort with a take-no-prisoners approach and facile reasoning,” the piece read. “Not even the tragedies of America’s record on race justify saying ‘I’m just right, dammit!’ as if the matter were as settled as the operations of gravity.”
The course dove into the issue of reparations, which some advocates believe is rightly owed to the descendants of American slaves. One of the course’s readings, “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, focused on racial redlining in the 1960s to defends the idea that reparations are justifiable. McWhorter argued that reparations are widely disputable and should be presented as such to high school students.
DeSantis defended his administration’s decision by vowing to educate, rather than indoctrinate, students in Florida.
“The issue is, we have guidelines and standards in Florida. We want education, not indoctrination,” the governor said in a January press conference.