In a turbulent political climate where accuracy is paramount, Vice President Kamala Harris was taken to task on Sunday by Scott Jennings, a CNN conservative commentator. His criticism came in response to Harris’s contentious remarks about Florida’s new black history curriculum in middle schools.
Harris hammered the Sunshine State’s curriculum, claiming students were being taught that “enslaved people benefited from slavery.” This incendiary statement has sparked a nationwide debate. However, Jennings argues Harris’s remarks are a significant misrepresentation of the curriculum’s actual content.
— Scott Jennings (@ScottJenningsKY) July 23, 2023
The Florida Department of Education’s new guidelines state, “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” Jennings maintains this doesn’t imply enslaved people “benefited” from their servitude, a claim that has drawn the administration’s ire.
Jennings blasted Harris for spreading falsehoods, saying, “This is a completely made-up deal. I looked at the standards, I even looked at an analysis of the standards. Everybody involved in this says this is completely a fabricated issue.”
The commentator’s sentiments echoed those of writer Charles C.W. Cooke, who, in his analysis, also called out the vice president’s claims as a “brazen lie.” He affirmed that the new curriculum did not “gaslight” people or “whitewash” the history of slavery, directly opposing Harris’s assertions.
The ensuing fallout is an apt example of the tension in American political discourse today. On the one hand, there’s Harris, whose comments have attracted criticism from conservatives like Jennings and Cooke, arguing she’s oversimplified the issue for political gain. On the other hand, Harris’s supporters argue her remarks reflect the sentiments of many Americans uncomfortable with how the history of slavery is taught.
Florida, led by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), has become a focal point for national discussions on education. Debates have surfaced around everything from the state’s recent curricular decisions to proposed bills concerning diversity and inclusion programs. However, these debates need to be based on truth, not a distortion of the facts.
The charge of Harris exaggerating the curriculum’s content is not without consequence. As a public figure, her comments carry weight, influencing public opinion and shaping policy discussions. If Jennings and Cooke’s assertions hold, Harris’s misrepresentation might further polarize an already divided electorate.
Jennings rightly questions, “How can we have a conversation about what should be taught in schools” if prominent figures like Harris distort the truth? Americans deserve an open, truthful conversation about education and its future direction. For that to happen, our leaders must prioritize accuracy and honesty in their public discourse.