This is another wonderful post by Billy Townsend about politics and education in Florida. He begins by questioning the staff of a Black Republican Congressman, Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) for using the term “redemption” in a tweet without being aware that this was the word used by white supremacists who wanted to end Reconstruction and restore the status quo of Black servitude. I have posted only about half the article. I urge you to open the link and read it in full.

The post begins:

OFF RECORD:  I will not be entertaining such an asinine question. Questioning if the Congressman, a proud American and Black man, would support the overthrow of Reconstruction does not warrant the Congressman’s or my time.

This is a real statement from Harrison Fields, the spokesman of Republican Florida Congressman Byron Donalds, in response to several questions I emailed him. The “off record” part is meaningless. I did not ask “off record,” nor did I agree to go “off record.” This is the public voice of a Florida elected public official. He doesn’t get to unilaterally declare what’s public and what isn’t.

Fields ignored my primary question, which was this:

Was Rep. Donalds aware when he tweeted about “our country’s great story of redemption” that “Redemption” is actually the historical name white supremacists gave to the overthrow of Reconstruction and re-establishment of white supremacist governments in Florida and the South after the Civil War. 

Here is the Donalds tweet in question: Byron Donalds @ByronDonaldsI applaud @GovRonDeSantis for banning Critical Race Theory in our schools. We must tell our country’s great story of redemption and teach our children patriotism. Every child should know they have a shot at the American Dream and that we ARE the greatest country in the world.

I suspected and suspect that Donalds did not know about Redemption. But he prides himself on “intellectual diversity;” so I did not want to assume anything or take away his agency. So I also asked:

If he was aware, could you clarify if he intended to praise the overthrow of Reconstruction and re-establishment of white supremacy as “our country’s great story”? Does he consider the white supremacist overthrow of Reconstruction “our country’s great story?”

Fields asserted in response that Donalds’ very blackness makes what I asked an “asinine question.” That assertion is the essence of critical race theory,as near as I can understand it. 

It’s the idea that racism is systemic enough in American history and governing and legal structures that “a proud American and Black man” can be expected to perceive, experience, and act in response to events and state power in a particular way. 

Under Fields’ critical race theory, “our country’s great story of redemption” becomes a particularly fraught phrase to use in addressing what the state says one can teach and learn in school about racial history — if one knows the historical meaning of Redemption. 

It’s either willful carelessness or open trolling.

“Narrative” vs. “fact” 

You can check out Jeff Solochek’s Tampa Bay Times article about the final critical race theory/1619 blahblahblah rule-making circus here. Key talking point from Ron DeSantis: 

Florida must have an education system that is “preferring fact over narrative,” DeSantis said.

It’s important to understand that no word DeSantis uses has any meaning. Ever. He only knows that 2024 Republican presidential primary voters enjoy leaders who behave like petty assholes in order to provoke and own as many “libs” as possible. Everything he does and says that isn’t directly tied to enriching a particular subset of the powerful is aimed at that 2024 GOP primary electorate’s impulses. If critical race theory somehow “owned the libs,” DeSantis would immediately take up its cause. 

You can’t debate any of this with anyone because debate is not the point. There is no content to this argument because it’s not an argument. It’s a troll. 

What you can do is recognize what a gift this fake suppression trolling is to the short, medium, and long-term cause of spreading real history. The enemy of good history isn’t suppression and threats; it’s indifference and incuriosity. 

And the more “fact” emerges, the more garbage cultural “narrative” falls apart. It can’t be reimposed on the culture without a level of force DeSantis and Corcoran and the rest are too feckless and incompetent to bring — even in the classroom. 

Beyond the classroom, DeSantis and Corcoran and all the rest of the screaming anti-critical-mask-1619-theory performance artists are utterly powerless to affect the relentless march toward clearer, more honest historical understanding — unless they start killing people and locking them up for it.

If it’s going to come to that; let’s get to it now and force the confrontations that might prevent it.

Please read the rest of the post. It is worth your time.