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Fostering Ignorance as a Moral Good
There has been recent outrage after it was declared that Florida is teaching high school students that “slaves benefited from slavery”. The media narrative insists that a grossly racist notion is thus being taught in schools:
That we may favor truth over partisanship, let us examine what the curriculum actually teaches:
The hysteria regards the last sentence about slaves developing skills. Rather than a knee-jerk response, let us ask: Is it true? Of course, slaves did develop skills that could sometimes prove useful to them. We can explore whether people in slavery gained skills without applauding the institution of slavery. If truth matters (and it does), then we must accept that, just as stories of our own lives are complicated and nuanced, so is history, which is made up of the stories of other men. Slavery is wrong because it makes people into commodities to be bought and sold, which violates their dignity. Surrogate motherhood is wrong for the same reason.
The attempt to prevent teachers from mentioning that slaves acquired skills actually inhibits students from learning important ethical truths. The more comprehensive study of slavery provides an example of how positive attributes in a situation cannot justify a greater evil. That applies to so many of the important issues facing us today:
It is true that abortion can quickly relieve the burdens associated with child-rearing, but that doesn’t justify taking a life.
It is true that affirming the incorrect pronouns of those who struggle with gender dysphoria will make them feel better in the short term and avoid conflict, but that does not justify encouraging the delusion (and self-denial) of a mentally ill person.
Surrogate motherhood does enable couples who cannot conceive to have children, but it then makes a commodity of the children and the surrogate (who sells the use of her body).
These issues require and deserve serious thought, not rapid dismissal. Likewise with slavery. Instead, there is an attempt to have history taught in such an ideological manner that it neglects truth, as well as dismissing the moral (and immoral) arguments that people of former ages grappled with.
The question here is not really about slavery at all, it’s whether children can be taught real history, nuance, and critical thinking, or whether they are merely to be the recipients of information so curated, deracinated, and reshaped that it can only honestly be called indoctrination.
Slavery continues today in Africa and the Middle East. The degree of outrage toward this curriculum does not seem matched by attempts to stop or expose modern instances of this evil. I posit that the reason is that the racial dynamics of American slavery make it an easy topic to exploit and combine with Critical Race Theory. Therefore, the leftist opposition to slavery is not because it fails to see man’s unique value and that it degrades him to a commodity, but because American slavery was racist. Thus, the topic merely becomes an instrument for those who wish to use race as a principal source of political power and capital.
We suffer from a lack of knowledge of history, and that ignorance is being intentionally maintained in academia. We should recognize the outrage at any remedial steps as the political activism that it is.