Benefits are benefits, no matter how odious the circumstances

Oh, Florida — you would be such a lovely state if you weren’t poisonously rich in Republicans. They’re putting together new history teaching standards.

The state’s curriculum standards for the African-American Studies course say students will learn how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.

I would have turned that around and said that slavers exploited the skilled labor of slaves, but hey, that’s the South for you.

Some people find that objectionable.

“Please table this rule and revise it to make sure that my history our history is being told factually and completely, and please do not, for the love of God, tell kids that slavery was beneficial because I guarantee you it most certainly was not,” said Kevin Parker, a community member.

Though the public testimony period lasted over an hour, most of the people objected to the adoption of the standard, with supporters of it waving from their seats. Paul Burns, the chancellor of K-12 public schools, defended the standards, denying that they referred to slavery as beneficial.

Oh no, it does not say that slavery was beneficial, only that there were benefits to being enslaved. That’s some mighty fine parsing of the language. I’m impressed.

OK, what if I suggest that people voting Republican should be automatically seized and sold into slavery? They could learn some beneficial attitudes, like empathy and tolerance. I hear that slavery does have some benefits, you know. They must really believe that or they wouldn’t say it.

If not slavery, how about just denying them the right to vote or run for office? See, I can compromise!


  1. eastexsteve says

    “America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.” Frederick Douglas from his speech What to the slave is the Fourth of July? July 5, 1852.
    He was right.

  2. mmason0071 says

    I think it is hilarious that the same people who thought that occasionally wearing little mask over their mouths was an epoch violation of their human rights, tantamount to slavery, now say real slavery wasn’t so bad.

  3. mamba says

    “slaves developed skills…”
    No, they were forced to learn ONLY the bare minimum requirement to do the task of the whipholder. The only skills they learned were “basic survival in a racist society” and “never trust a white man, ever!”

    “…for personal benefit…”
    They had no say in their lives, they were slaves! There wasn’t exactly a plan to free them after 10-20 years of service. even If this was true, what “job” aside from “slave” were they allowed to do to benefit themselves?

    But hey, maybe they’re right? Next time you see someone claiming this, beat them to a pulp and tell them you’re giving them “valuable self-defence skill practice”. Then pull a gun and tell them you’re teaching them proper threat avoidance techniques. See how far you get!

    Seriously though, WHY do so many Americans have a hard time simply stating the obvious fact that beating and enslaving an entire race was a BAD thing all around? Is it really that hard to just say “Our ancestors were ignorant asshole bullies?” Are they trying to bring BACK slavery somehow? This is like taking crazy pills!! Did the Nazi party slip in a win when I wasn’t looking? How is this even close to a reasonable discussion point? Sheesh!!

  4. mordred says

    Slaves? Aren’t they supposed to be called migrant workers in Republican states?

  5. robro says

    mamba — A few are probably trying to resurrect slavery, though they probably wouldn’t admit in a public context. Most are probably just trying to resurrect segregation. That’s just as stupid but they’ve been convinced for generations that’s the “natural order”. Of course the real source of all this crap, is rich people creating false divisions between working people to hold onto their power. There’s evidence in the historical record that land owners in Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas in the late-17th century recognized an advantage in making a distinction between “indentured” forced laborers from Europe and “chattel slavery” forced laborers from Africa and the Caribbean.

  6. pilgham says

    This reminds me of the story of George Washington’s personal cook, Hercules Posey. (Posey because that was the last name of his original owner). Washington kept him in his house in Philadelphia while he was president. He “self-emancipated” according to, one of only a few slaves to escape in Washington’s lifetime. Sort of thing they won’t be teaching in Florida.

  7. raven says

    Oh no, it does not say that slavery was beneficial, only that there were benefits to being enslaved.


    So let’s enslave DeSantis and anyone who donated over $10,000 to his campaign or slush fund.
    And, then teach them some useful skills besides wrecking the USA and Florida.

    I’m not sure what DeSantis could do that is useful though.
    IIRC, his first job in the military was at Guantanamo prison, where they tortured Muslim POWs for no good reason.

    I don’t know, maybe he could herd sheep or something.
    That does seem a lot like his current job.

  8. robro says

    raven @ #9 — “So let’s enslave DeSantis and anyone who donated…” Reminded me immediately of Jane Elliott’s question to an audience of white people: “Raise your hand if you would trade your life for the life of a Black person in the US?” No one raises a hand.

    DeSantis is a lawyer so almost by definition he has little to offer that’s useful. However, as a lawyer in the Navy he probably wasn’t directly involved in the Gitmo torture business, except to keep people imprisoned there indefinitely.

    Note about lawyers: Some are very useful. One of my oldest friends is a retired lawyer. She is fluent in Spanish and got her law degree to help immigrants.

  9. says

    it does not say that slavery was beneficial

    Well, it should. Slavery was extremely beneficial if you were the owner, and generally beneficial (in simple economic terms) for the average free person. The enslaved? Not so much. How could it not be economically beneficial to them when they are stealing someone else’s labor? This is the core of the argument concerning the robbery of generational wealth and the on-going effects of it.

    @10, robro Reminded me immediately of Jane Elliott’s question to an audience of white people…

    And that reminds me of a bit from Chris Rock where he tells the audience, “There isn’t a white guy in this audience who would trade lives with me… and I’m rich!

  10. Artor says

    In other news from the state that made it illegal to talk about climate change, it hit 101 degrees Fahrenheit today. That’s not the air temperature, but the ocean!

  11. raven says

    ‘100% coral mortality’ found at Florida Keys reef due to rising temperatures, restoration group says
    Emily DeLetter USA TODAY July 26

    A coral reef restoration group is warning that rising ocean temperatures are putting Florida’s coral reef in danger of catastrophic loss.

    The Coral Restoration Foundation, a group centered around restoring and protecting Florida’s coral reefs, said it visited the Sombrero Reef off the Florida Keys July 20 and found “100% coral mortality.” The discovery means all corals on the Sombrero Reef have died and the reef will not recover on its own without active restoration, the foundation said.

    Phanor Montoya-Maya, a restoration program manager at Coral Restoration Foundation, said in a release from the group that almost all of the corals in the Looe Key Nursery in the Lower Keys have also been lost. Corals in the Upper Keys, where the water is cooler, have not yet declined as much, and the foundation is now focused on rescuing corals from nurseries and relocating them.

    Atlantic Ocean current could collapse:How you may endure dramatic weather changes

    Scott Winters, CEO of Coral Restoration Foundation, said he hopes the coral reef’s dire condition sparks investment in restoration and conservation efforts, “including our precious coral reefs.”

    “This is not a partisan issue; everyone will be affected. The climate crisis impacts our way of life and all life on Earth,” Winters said.

    Florida’s coral reef system is large, stretching 350 miles from the Dry Tortugas off the coast of Key West to Martin County, north of Palm Beach on the Atlantic side of the state. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the reef acts as a buffer for the coastline during storms and provides shelter, food and breeding sites for a number of Florida’s marine species.

    Some of the coral reefs in Florida have now died due to hot water bleaching.
    Which didn’t actually happen because the state government of Florida said it didn’t.

  12. robro says

    jimf @ #11 Which reminds me of a bit I saw Dave Chapelle do with a subtle ending. He tells the story of being out with a white friend smoking pot while trying to find their way some place. Cops pull up in a car and Dave’s white friend…smoking away…says he’s going to ask them for directions. Chapelle says don’t do that, man, but his friend does. He bangs on the car to get the cop to roll down the window and asks him for directions. The cop gives him the info they need, and just tells them to move along…sternly. Then Chapelle says to the audience, “That’s it. That’s the end of the story.” I think we can be fairly sure that if a Black person, like Chapelle, had done that there would be more to the story.

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    jimf @ # 11: Slavery was … generally beneficial (in simple economic terms) for the average free person.

    Not really, in most cases. A free (black or white) blacksmith/carpenter/wagoneer/seamstress/whatev had to survive and compete where almost all the other $[workers] received only a bowl of cornmeal and peas per day and a pair of shoes each year (if they had really generous masters). That sort of thing depresses the entire economy, and keeps it depressed.

  14. wzrd1 says

    The irony is lost on many, especially in the south, as the civil war was fought mostly by men who owned no other men or women, while prodded on by those who largely didn’t fight and definitely didn’t want to contribute to the war effort financially or otherwise.

  15. silvrhalide says

    @9 Compost. DeSantis could have a useful use as compost.

    @5 “Are they trying to bring BACK slavery somehow?”
    Yes, but they are starting with women this time around. Forced birthing will create a permanent underclass of de facto slaves–underpaid, unskilled uneducated women and their children.

    Republicans and other right wingnuts won’t be happy with “the curriculum” until it is basically Gone With The Wind, the fantasy novel of an alternate Southern history that makes slavery look like one big happy tea party in the antebellum South.Those of us who haven’t drunk the Kool Aid realize that historical reality was a lot closer to Twelve Years A Slave.

  16. bcw bcw says

    Texas looks at Florida and says hold my beer:

    also, a really bad article on Covid-19 origins from a science writer with a literature degree:

    It says: “One school of thought holds that the virus, known to science as SARS-CoV-2, spilled into humans from a nonhuman animal, probably in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a messy emporium in Wuhan, China, brimming with fish, meats and wildlife on sale as food. Another school argues that the virus was laboratory-engineered to infect humans and cause them harm — a bioweapon — and was possibly devised in a “shadow project” sponsored by the People’s Liberation Army of China. A third school, more moderate than the second but also implicating laboratory work, suggests that the virus got into its first human victim by way of an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (W.I.V.), a research complex on the eastern side of the city, maybe after well-meaning but reckless genetic manipulation that made it more dangerous to people”

    and goes downihll from there, completely ignoring every real science article on the subject to pitch a version where each of the three “versions” are equally probable.

  17. bcw bcw says

    @19, clearly the author of the NY Times article on Covid-19 has taken the attitude that “since I don’t have the understanding to evaluate any of the scientific papers for validity, I’ll just treat them all as equally accurate.”

  18. chrislawson says


    Yes indeed. It is a sad fact that had the American Revolution failed, slavery would probably have ended in 1838. I was tempted to add ‘and without a civil war’, but I have no doubt that some form of the Confederacy would have taken up arms to preserve slavery.

  19. chrislawson says

    bcw bcw@19–

    I love that journalistic fallacy. By the same logic, the lottery ticket I buy will either be a winning ticket or a losing ticket, therefore I have a 50% chance of winning the lottery with one ticket!

  20. hemidactylus says

    @12- Artor
    If heavy El Nino shear and Saharan dust don’t keep the tropical systems tamped down this year I wonder if Michael and Ian were just harbingers of things to come. Rapidly intensifying beast mode with that rocket fuel in the ocean. What’s the upper limit on hurricane intensity?

  21. says

    mamba @5
    “Are they trying to bring BACK slavery somehow?”

    It never went away. They just don’t want to go through the whole imprisonment hassle, plus it would be easier to get help around the house and factories working in the US again if they have more mobility.

  22. hemidactylus says

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

    Convict leasing and debt peonage have a long post-“emancipation” history that fashy volk like Desantis might want omitted from the historic record as it might make white people like him uncomfortable. To point that out is “woke”.

    Ironically people could learn valuable vocational skills or receive an education in prison if we weren’t so addicted to retributive justice instead of maybe providing educational opportunities and removing the stigma of being a felon, which limits job prospects once released. Desantis seems more concerned with executing as many prisoners as possible to score political points. Executed prisoners are mere pawns in his instrumental view of people. Law and order.

    Sociopathy much?: “Former students also recalled an incident in which DeSantis dared a student – who bragged about the quantity of milk he could drink – to chug as much as he could in one sitting. The student complied and proceeded to throw up in front of dozens of other students, according to the Times.

    “I think about it, now — I’m a teacher now in public school,” Adam Moody, a former student who witnessed the incident, told the Times. “I put myself in that moment, and it’s just unthinkable. There’s a cruelty to the sense of humor. There’s a cruelty to the mentorship.””

    Sounds consistent with someone enjoying a Gitmo prisoner on hunger strike getting force fed Ensure.

    Or dismissing all the people who died in Florida on his watch as “Covid theater”.

    Or using migrants shipped elsewhere as pawns for the lulz.

    I doubt there is one shred of humanity in the guy. Every move has been a politically calculated pose.

  23. Rich Woods says

    @hemidactylus #23:

    What’s the upper limit on hurricane intensity?

    The speed of sound.

  24. cheerfulcharlie says

    After slavery was outlawed, we had a brief period where Southern blacks could live decent lives. Could vote, run businesses and thrive. Then we had the fading of these brief good times. The ugly history of Reconstruction is not going to be taught in Florida schools. The rise od Jim Crow, Segregation, loss of rights for free blacks at the hands of White supremecy. The Red Summer of 1919. The rise of racist organizations such as the Klan, White Citizen councils, et al to deny American blacks ability to live “The America Dream”. The claim slavery prepared ex-slaves to become successful American citizens is a pack of lies, ignoring what happened after the Union troops left the deep South to their own devices.

  25. wzrd1 says

    hemidactylus @ 23, depends upon where you are. Atlantic or Pacific.
    Atlantic is category 5 ≥ 157 mph or ≥ 252 km/h.
    Pacific is Violent Typhoon ≥194 km/h.
    Holy Shit scale, “Oh, balls”.
    Although, Rich Woods @ 29 is rather onto something. That’s called a shockwave.

    I’m curious though, for schools following the denial of history curriculum, specifically colleges, how will they maintain accreditation.
    Hint, hint. As in, lost accreditation, graduates are unemployable, as their degrees are essentially worthless outside of that state.

  26. Kagehi says

    I suppose, the modern day equivalent of these Rethuglican’s logic would be someone spending time training at a company to do a specific kind of job, but having to sign paperwork that includes a non-compete clause, should they ever quit (run away), and/or get fired (lynched?). Sure, you learned “useful skills”, but how the F useful would be, say, learning to cook if, once free, you can’t own property, find anyone willing to take you on as a paid cook, and even of you somehow started a business 90% of the local population will simply flat out refuse to enter the establishment and buy your goods.

    Gaining a skill is worthless, if, once you are no longer in the employ of the people that gave it to you (or their servant), you can’t actually f-ing use it for anything. But.. this would require something the MAGA branch of the GOP is even worse at than the old GOP – comprehending long term consequences.

  27. DanDare says


    They were too stupid to learn these skills without being enslaved first.

    Imagine what skills they would have developed if they were not enslaved and went to school instead.

  28. brightmoon says

    I’ve heard many many fundies say that biblical slavery was ok . Including some Uncle-Ruckus-acting fools like preacher Allan Parr . Uncle Ruckus from Boondocks .