GOP lawmaker laughed at for saying schools should teach ‘good’ side of slavery

Breanna Robinson
Wednesday 28 April 2021 16:07
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(Photo courtesy of The Louisiana House Education Committee hearing/ MediaIte)

Most people are aware that huge numbers of people were kidnapped from Africa in the 1600 and 1700s and forced into slavery and exploited to do manual labor such as tending to cotton and tobacco crops.

But one state representative seems to think there was a “good” side to it all, a claim which prompted laughter from onlookers in a hearing.

The Louisiana House Education Committee held a hearing recently on a bill to ban the teaching of ‘divisive concepts’, put forward by Rep. Ray Garofalo, who faced a series of questions by Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, on the bill’s contents.

Hilferty started by addressing the sources of complaints that convinced him to write the bill.

“Can you give examples of what they told you?” said Hilferty.

Garofolo then said that parents and teachers were “being forced to take training” advocate for theories and provide “handouts.” He was a bit hesitant as he didn’t want to “say anything he shouldn’t say.”

“What does the handout say?” Hilferty asked.

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“Handouts saying that the United States is a racist country, corporations are inherently racist, and have a bias against…” Garofolo began to say, which Hilferty said, “Can you share examples of these with the committee?”

Garofolo was reluctant as he wanted to maintain the privacy of the sources but mentioned that there were “only a few examples” and that he saw examples on Facebook some months prior. “If I can go back and find those, I’ll give this to you as well.”

Hilferty then began to ask Garofolo questions about the language of the bill, to which Garofolo said, in part, “It’s exactly what it says?

“If you’re teaching, if you’re having a discussion on, whatever the case may be, on slavery, and you can talk about everything dealing with slavery. The good, the bad, the ugly, the whole…” Garofalo said.

Hilferty pointed out the obvious, saying, “There’s no good to slavery, though,” which resulted in laughter.

Garofolo, seemingly embarrassed by his word choices, said, “You’re right, you’re right, I didn’t mean to imply that… I’m using that good, bad, and ugly as a generic way of saying that you can teach any facts, factually based anything regardless.”

He then addressed the point again that he didn’t think anyone would believe that slavery was a good thing, saying, “ I’d be really shocked if they did.”

If you’re going to teach history, you have to be able to show students the whole picture.

But there was never a good side to slavery, period. So what’s he so angry about?

Check out the full hearing here.

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