Egret and crab

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Florida Whitewash

 I admit that I was taken aback by the headline.

A book on the baseball great Roberto Clemente has been pulled off the public school shelves in Florida because it mentions the past discrimination that the star endured.  I am sure that the same rules will apply to Mays, Robinson and Aaron, all who suffered intense discrimination. 

PEN America, a New York-based nonprofit that works to defend free expression, reported the district had removed at least 176 titles from classrooms. They include works such as “My Two Dads and Me,” “My Two Moms and Me,” “Celebrating Different Beliefs,” “The Gift of Ramadan,” “The Berenstain Bears and the Big Question” and books about Rosa Parks, the Underground Railroad and Japanese internment camps during World War II.

Also removed was “Roberto Clemente: The Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates,” a 2005 book by Dormont’s Jonah Winter.

But, oops, we can't say that anymore. Remember, in the new world order, we can't say black, we can't say gay, we can't say anything that will make white kids feel guilty about America's racist past or bad about themselves.

Ron De Santis has set his sights on all the current enemies of the right, gays, blacks, the woke, Disney, the College Boards and even Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. He wants to forbid teaching children some of the more difficult parts of our history, which include slavery, Jim Crow and red lining. Let's pretend it never happened.

Good article on the subject this week at the New Yorker by Jelani Cobb.

One passage from the article struck me in particular:
DeSantis shared some of his own ideas about the nation’s past during a gubernatorial-campaign debate last fall, stating that “it’s not true” that “the United States was built on stolen land.” That claim, of course, is starkly at odds not only with the history of westward expansion but with the history of Florida; thousands of Native Americans were forcibly relocated from the region, with the Indian Removal Act of 1830. In general, the Governor’s objective is seemingly to provide white Floridians, from a young age, with a version of the past that they can be comfortable with, regardless of whether it’s true.

For some reason, I was researching this very topic last night.  

European colonists encountered numerous groups of indigenous peoples in Florida. Recorded information on various groups ranges from numerous detailed reports to the mere mention of a name. Some of the indigenous peoples were taken into the system of Spanish missions in Florida, others had sporadic contact with the Spanish without being brought into the mission system, but many of the peoples are known only from mention of their names in historical accounts. All of these peoples were essentially extinct in Florida by the end of the 18th century.
Most died from exposure to Eurasian infectious diseases, such as smallpox and measles, to which they had no immunity; others died from conflict with European colonists in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. During the initial period of Spanish colonization, groups of conquistadors came into conflict with Florida Indians, which combined with Spanish-introduced diseases devastated their population. In the 17th and 18th centuries, English colonists from the Province of Carolina and the Indian allies carried out several raids against the Spanish mission system, further devastating the indigenous population of Florida. The few survivors migrated out of Florida, mainly to Cuba and New Spain with the Spanish when they ceded Florida to Great Britain in 1763 following the Seven Years' War, although a few Apalachee reached Louisiana, where their descendants still live.

Natives lived in Florida for over 12,000 years. By the end of the 18th century, they had been completely wiped out east of the Apalachicola River. The article lists the names of about 60 tribes that have totally vanished, the Chatot, the Alafay, the Chisca, the Calusa. And the truth is that we started wiping out and raping natives in the new world from day one, starting with Columbus. Cuneo writes of raping a nine year old in his journal.

Eventually, Columbus and later his brother Bartholomew Columbus who he left in charge of the island, simply resorted to wiping out the Taino altogether. Prior to Columbus' arrival, some scholars place the population of Haiti/Hispaniola (now at 16 million) at around 1.5 to 3 million people. By 1496, it was down to 1.1 million, according to a census done by Bartholomew Columbus. By 1516, the indigenous population was 12,000, and according to Las Casas (who were there) by 1542 fewer than 200 natives were alive. By 1555, every single one was dead. 

Ron De Santis and those of his ilk that want to whitewash our history would prefer that nobody knows that and about them. It might make white people uncomfortable. And we know that God had our back the whole time, you can't make a country or an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

Now the governor has his sights set on taking over Disney. I was mulling this over and have some ideas. We will change the name to Pastyland, in honor of the newly preferred skin tone. You can get refreshments at the Bull Connor Attack Dog Plaza and receive a Lester Maddox Memorial Axe handle upon admission to the park. Heteros only allowed in, no question.

We can re educate the young people while they are having a good time. At the Tuskegee Syphilis center and boba refreshment stand we can explain that the 600 poor black sharecroppers who were purposely exposed to syphilis were performing a great civic duty and that sick or not, their lives had been greatly improved by the experience. And in a big F.U. to those damn Ben and Jerry's, only vanilla ice cream will be served at the park.

I never liked Florida and now I like it even less. I despise De Santis about as much as I despise Trump, he is a little smarter and more polished than the Donald. Craftier but just as dishonest.  People will do about the same amount of vetting of his record that they did for George Santos and then complain that no one knew. He has a patina of normalcy next to the crazy competition in his party that makes him very electable, god forbid.

Be careful of people who want to control and alter the history books. Orwell said something about that, didn't he?

We have done some great things in this country and we have also done things that we should legitimately be ashamed of. Kids deserve to hear all of it. 

Clemente deserves it too.


Anonymous said...

Good one Robert! Nora

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear!

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of bullshit & waste of taxpayer $. If I lived there, which would mean that I had "lost my marbles", I would find a way to pay zero taxes, by hook or crook.

Richard Carpenter said...

You do your homework which is excellent. Obviously, anyone who is not already prejudiced finds these facts abhorent. What is even more disturbing is the rejection of Ben and Jerry's. Downright UnAmerican!