Slavery was good?

7/27/2023, 6 p.m.
Africans were so lucky to be captured, shipped in torturous conditions away from their homeland, stripped of their languages, kinship, …

Africans were so lucky to be captured, shipped in torturous conditions away from their homeland, stripped of their languages, kinship, religion and culture and bound into perpetual servitude in America so that they could learn “useful skills.”

Pretty preposterous, right?

Not for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

He’s so proud that the Florida Department of Public Education has rewritten the history standards to ensure that public school students in his state will be learning about the glories of slavery, instead of just being taught what he calls the false narrative that human bondage was simply terrible.

Surely, he believes, we can find something positive to say about the horrendous conditions that the enslaved were forced to endure before freedom came and that too many endured even after our forbears were manumitted.

Why are we paying attention to this verbal garbage?

Because Gov. DeSantis wants to use this version of how slavery went down in this country to rev up his fledgling and disintegrating campaign to win the Republican presidential nomination.

From our vantage, he appears to be running for bigot in chief, rather than commander in chief.

It says a great deal that an elected Republican leader is trying to make the case for slavery.

Though a few brave souls in the GOP have pushed back, it is more distressing that most Republican presidential candidates and Republican leaders, such as Virginia Gov. Glenn A. Youngkin, Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears and Virginia House Speaker Todd Gilbert, have declined to denounce Gov. DeSantis’ racist views.

Maybe they disagree, but don’t want to stir up an interparty fuss. But their golden silence bespeaks a certain admiration for someone willing to spout nonsense in public. Even more shameful is that they may agree with him, but don’t want to face hostile fire.

At least one Republican is bold enough to refute Gov. DeSantis and his meely-mouthed brethren. former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, who has joined the race for the Republican nomination was clear when he tweeted, “Slavery wasn’t a jobs program that taught beneficial skills.” Mr. Hurd, the son of a Black father and white mother, added “It was literally dehumanizing and subjugated people as property.”

Still, he is a passenger pigeon in his party these days. There was a time when Gov. DeSantis would have faced a serious and substantial backlash from his own party members, not just from Democrats. No more.

We have to agree with Cedric L. Richmond, co-chair of the Biden for President campaign: “Ron DeSantis’ comments in support of the idea that slavery had benefits are disgusting, but they are a symptom of the extremism that has infected the Republican Party. There’s no debate over slavery. It was utterly evil.”

We know our people made a way out of no way. We know many emerged from slavery with skills that they used to go on to serve as soldiers, educators, doctors, lawyers, civil servants and more. That they built towns that were so successful envious white people burned them down, and yet they went on to invent necessary products ranging from traffic lights, portable air conditioners innovations in medicine and technology.

Black people have long claimed the lead as creative engines in popular music, design and entertainment. In this week’s Free Press edition, we learn a little more about blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup who gained prominence as a recording artist in Chicago in the 1940s. In 1954, Elvis Presley’s career took off after he “benefited” from recording a version of Mr. Crudup’s “That’s All Right.” Elton John, The Beatles and others covered Mr. Crudup’s music, too. Mr. Crudup lived out his last days largely unheralded in Virginia, where he worked as a farmer to support his family.

But our people did this despite the horrors they or their ancestors went through, not because of those horrors.

Slavery stunted the South and the talents of those who were forced to work without pay. Generations have passed but the wounds of that terrible institution have yet to be fully healed. Trying to put lipstick on a pig, Gov. DeSantis, reveals more about you than the swine.