Anti-CRT Bill: Associated Press Twists Florida Senate Bill 148

Ron DeSantis, then-Republican candidate for governor of Florida, speaks during a Make America Great Again rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida on July 31, 2018. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

At The Associated Press, Brendan Farrington leads with the claim that Senate Bill 148 in the Florida Legislature “would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel comfortable when teaching students or training employees about discrimination in the nation’s past”.

Even more damning is the title: “Florida could protect white people from the ‘malaise’ of the racist past.”

Finally, in paragraph eight, Farrington refers to the text of the legislation in question, writing “the bill reads in part, ‘An individual, by virtue of his race or sex, is not liable for the actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or gender. should not be felt discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress due to his race (emphasis added).’ »

The law aims to address one of the core tenets of critical race theory: that white children should feel guilty because of their race. While there are almost certainly legal wrangles over interpretation, lessons that cause racial discomfort would not break the law, while lessons designed to produce that effect would.

No link to the bill, which passed the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, is included.

In fact, the bill is more broadly aimed, as Farrington admits in paragraph eight, to prevent the teaching of collective guilt or distress on the part of any race. It also requires that the instruction remain consistent with the principles that “no race is inherently superior to another race” and “no individual shall be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or in part on the basis of basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability or sex.

Moreover, it explicitly requires the teaching of “the history of African Americans, including the history of African people before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the experience of slavery, abolition and the contributions of African Americans”. to the society. »

In theory, the legislation would not only protect students of all races from critical race theory, but also the type of racist teaching strategies that appear in the news from time to time.

Similarly, the bill prohibits companies from “subjecting any person, as a condition of employment, membership, certification, license, accreditation, or passing, to any examination, training, instruction, or other required activity that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates or compels that person to believe that any of the following concepts constitute discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex or national origin under this section.”

There are many legitimate — and constitutional — questions to be asked about the merits of this bill, particularly the section on private enterprise. But it is neither narrowly designed to “protect” white feelings, nor intended to prevent students from feeling any discomfort when learning a difficult historical subject.

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Norman D. Briggs