Tim Scott rebukes 2024 GOP rival Ron DeSantis over Florida curriculum on slavery

Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) rebuked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a rival for the GOP presidential nomination, on Thursday over new state standards on how Black history is taught in Florida schools, saying “there is no silver lining” in slavery.

The social studies standards, which DeSantis has defended, include teaching middle-schoolers that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Scott, the only Black Republican in the U.S. Senate, strongly pushed back on that idea while speaking to reporters on the campaign trail in Ankeny, Iowa.

“As a country founded upon freedom, the greatest deprivation of freedom was slavery,” Scott said. “There is no silver lining … in slavery. … What slavery was really about [was] separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating. So, I would hope that every person in our country — and certainly running for president — would appreciate that.”

Speaking of DeSantis, Scott added: “Listen, people have bad days. Sometimes they regret what they say.”

Asked about Scott’s comments during a campaign stop Friday in Iowa, DeSantis suggested the senator was misinformed.

“Part of the reason our country has struggled is because D.C. Republicans all too often accept false narratives, accept lies that are perpetrated by the left,” DeSantis said, without elaborating on what lies he was accusing Scott of spreading.

DeSantis initially sought to distance himself from the State Board of Education’s new curriculum, contained in a 216-page document, telling reporters last week that “I wasn’t involved in it.”

But DeSantis also defended it, saying, “I think that they’re probably going to show — some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life.”

The instructions on teaching about slavery have come under fire from an array of politicians, including Vice President Harris and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), both of whom are Black. Donalds has endorsed former president Donald Trump for the presidential nomination.

Asked about Donalds’s criticism at a campaign stop in Iowa on Thursday, DeSantis reportedly questioned his loyalty.

“So at the end of the day you’ve got to choose,” DeSantis said. “Are you going to side with Kamala Harris and liberal media outlets, or are you going to side with the state of Florida?”

DeSantis also assailed Harris after she traveled to Jacksonville, Fla., last week to slam the curriculum. She emphasized that slavery involved rape, torture and “some of the worst examples of depriving people of humanity in our world.”

DeSantis responded in a statement that “Democrats like Kamala Harris have to lie about Florida’s educational standards to cover for their agenda of indoctrinating students and pushing sexual topics onto children.”

The curriculum also has been heavily criticized by former congressman Will Hurd (Tex.), another Republican presidential hopeful.

“Slavery wasn’t a jobs program that taught beneficial skills,” Hurd, the son of a Black father and a White mother, tweeted last week. “It was literally dehumanizing and subjugated people as property because they lacked any rights or freedoms.”

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