Place: Miami, Florida, a sixth-grade classroom
Date: Feb. 21, 2023
Teacher: Miss Brainoff
Miss Brainoff starts the day: “Good morning, students! I hope you had fun on your day off of school for Presidents Day yesterday. And aren’t we excited to be the first class to study from the new history books, sanctioned by our governor, Ron DeSantis? I am honored to lead our discussion on corrected history and clarifying misconceptions.”
A student holds up his hand and asks, “We had Presidents Day off yesterday. How come we didn’t have Martin Luther King Day off? Isn’t it a national holiday in January?”
Noticeably flustered, the teacher responds, “The reason we do not observe that holiday is because it is based on inaccurate information about Martin Luther King. As we read our new books, you will learn more and understand.
Another student excitedly blurts out, “But Miss Brainoff, my mother said she and all the parents got notices about Martin Luther King Day, and she said it almost seemed like a threat.”
The teacher answers, “I am so sorry, but your mother is mistaken about the notices. They were sent from Governor DeSantis’ office, saying that the parents of any students absent from school without a medical release, would be fined for intentionally defying the state’s new rule. They were merely sent to urge parents not to be influenced by the liberal media and some of the troublesome folks who spread dishonest information about who Martin Luther King really was.”
Miss Brainoff continues, “Now let’s begin today’s reading concerning how Negro families first came to America. English folks who settled here were ambitious and established wonderful plantations, which required lots of help to maintain. They generously invited some poor, ignorant Negroes from Africa to come to America. They offered free ship passage and made arrangements for their soon-to-be happy lives in the new world of America. Promises from the plantation owners included short work hours in exchange for providing delicious and plentiful food, handsome durable clothing, and comfortable lodging on the grounds of their beautiful plantations. They even offered to educate children of the families who came together. So obviously these Africans who accepted these generous offers were definitely not slaves.”
She continues, “There were a few Negroes who were unappreciative of what they received, and they caused some trouble. They even tried to intimidate some of their friends and relatives to join them in leaving the plantations. They used the incorrect term of “slave” to describe themselves, as a tool to encourage more Negroes to join their ungrateful and rebellious ranks. Even today, we have some troublesome groups of Negroes who call themselves ‘Blacks’ and/or ‘African Americans’ who continue to cause societal disruption. These DeSantis-approved books are excellent guides on how to deal with these trouble-makers and will help us better understand why the police have to use strong means to keep us safe.”
Anxiously waving his hand, another student interrupts and asks, “But Miss Brainoff, what about the Civil War? Wasn’t that because most people thought the Southern Blacks … oops, I guess I am supposed to say, ‘Negroes’ … were abused and lived as slaves?”
Miss Brainoff responds, “Oh, no! The Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. It was a war between the states; a political dispute only.”
Other students began speaking out of turn, “What about TV and churches referring to February as ‘Black History Month?’”
Miss Brainoff answers: “The liberal media and left-wing activists have done a terrific job of brainwashing the public. Don’t you be fooled! You are all now old enough to learn what is correct and these newly approved books will tell you that.”
This imaginary classroom could be a possibility if one listens carefully to the remarks of Governor Ron DeSantis and his re-thinking of history. Contrary to his revisionist view, most people seek to expand their knowledge of history, researched over the past century. Thankfully, most of us are not stagnant thinkers. We must continue to open our minds and encourage our children to learn the truth.
As a side note, Governor DeSantis could easily be accused of plagiarism. His words, especially concerning African American history, are the same as those of Mildred Lewis Rutherford, the former Historian General of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Mildred Lewis Rutherford, or “Miss Millie” as her devoted followers called her (1851-1928) was a white supremacist, who tirelessly advocated for the “righteous cause” version of Southern history, holding the Confederacy “blameless.”
She was widely known for delivering her many speeches wearing antebellum hoop skirts, well into the 1900s. She wrote that the “crimes of the Reconstruction made the Klu Klux Klan, a necessity.” Further, she wrote that “the Civil War was a division between the states and was not a war to end any evils of slavery.”
As a slave owner, herself, she said, “Negroes of the South were never slaves and were totally misrepresented.” Rutherford also provided a “warning listing” of books to be rejected by librarians and teachers:
“Reject any book that spreads contradictory information on the Civil War other than that it was any compact between sovereign states.”
“Reject any book that states the South caused the secession.”
“Reject any book that claims the Negroes of the South were treated cruelly or unjustly.”
We cannot help but see similarities between Rutherford’s writings and DeSantis’ pronouncements and, shockingly, those of a large and fast-growing cohort of his like-minded thinkers. Can the truth of an ugly past be repressed? Martin Luther King stated, “No society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present.”
And they have! We must be concerned that historical truths be taught and prevail. Let’s learn from historical researchers and good teachers, and not politicians pandering to their base.