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Letters: Florida’s new education standards don’t ‘whitewash history’ or ‘justify slavery’

I was disgusted by the snarky July 30 editorial from Frank Cerabino of the Palm Beach Post, who was critical of the new standards for teaching Black history in Florida. He implies that the new standards are mainly to keep white kids from feeling uncomfortable about slavery. He also goes on to ridicule one statement in the curriculum that says some slaves may have benefited from slavery. 

First, the new standards were not instituted to help white kids feel better about themselves, but to purge the teaching of Critical Race Theory. From what I understand, this concept is geared to make white kids feel guilty for something they had no part in — enslaving people — and teaches that whites are inherently racist, which does nothing but create more division among people. 

Florida’s new standards neither whitewash history nor do they justify slavery. 

Second, no one is saying that slavery was a good thing; it continues to be understood as a horrific practice that undermined the ideals of freedom on which our country was founded. 

Third, as for possible benefits to the enslaved, if Cerabino and others had read the statement in context, then there would be no controversy. 

All people face some form of struggle in their lives; some more than others. But they can learn from history and hopefully use it to build character. That means making the best out of one’s situation, even though it may have been difficult or unjust. 

I think that some slaves may have benefited from their situation — not from slavery itself per se, but through a heart and mind that was determined to learn, adapt and seek something greater. 

It is a shame that many people want to dwell on the past (where they ultimately will continue to be enslaved in some form or another), instead of learning from that past, moving on and building a positive future. History can be the ultimate character builder; sadly, Cerabino and many liberals don’t appear to be interested in the importance of character. 

Calvin Johnson, Jacksonville 

After reading Mark Woods’ July 28 column about a parent targeting books in Clay County public school libraries, I am sure the parent, Bruce Friedman, is a well-intentioned, sincere and honorable person. I also assume that he is highly educated, a prodigious speed reader and may even hold advanced degrees in child psychology, as well as adolescent education. 

This must be why Freidman can get the county to consider removing hundreds of books from school libraries with two simple phrases: “Protect Children!!” and “DAMAGED SOULS.” 

If Friedman wants to limit what his child is exposed to, that is his business. However, he should not be able to dictate what books my children and others are able to read. 

I have a simple solution for him and Moms for Liberty (misnamed, in my mind): Home-school your children, cancel all magazines or newspaper subscriptions and make certain they do not have access to the internet — no telling what they may find there. 

Also, take away their phones, tablets and computers, restrict their radio listening and television viewing to “wholesome” content only, while making sure their only social contacts are with children of like-minded parents. 

Finally, make sure when they study American history that they learn how slaves learned many useful skills while enslaved; that Confederate battle flags are a show of Southern pride (not a symbol of continued racism in this country); and that Confederate monuments — mostly erected in the 1920s — are meant to honor and remember those who served the “Lost Cause,” not to remind Blacks of their place in the social order. 

God help us all. 

Michael Connelly, Jacksonville Beach 

Hypocrisy of Hunter’s plea deal

Hunter Biden’s proposed plea deal, reported by USA Today late last week, was the epitome of hypocrisy by the highest level of our government. 

The Joe Biden administration, for more than two years, has beat the drum for equitable treatment for minorities, ranted against white supremacy and demanded stricter gun laws in response to mass killings. 

Yet when Hunter Biden was accused of failure to report and pay taxes, his attorneys were able to negotiate a sweetheart plea deal, with the prosecuting Department of Justice attorney, David Weiss, charging him with only a misdemeanor. Any other taxpayer would have been charged with a felony. Hunter Biden, having been a drug addict, also purchased a handgun without revealing his addiction — an illegal gun purchase. Prosecutors agreed to no jail time for the gun charge, which (again) is usually a felony charge. 

For the son of a president who is seeking stricter gun laws, this is egregiously hypocritical. Fortunately, at the hearing for the plea deal, an intelligent judge apparently saw through the hypocrisy and unfairness of the plea. U.S. District Judge Maryellen Norieka refused to grant the deal to Hunter Biden as an additional investigation is being conducted. 

The entire plea deal is an example, in the extreme, of using privilege to circumvent the law. It is the opposite of equal justice for all citizens. As Biden and the Democrats in Congress have said in the past, no one is above the law — including the president’s own son. 

Theresa Criss, Riverside 

Rubio supports vital health provisions

Lack of essential drugs and medical supplies is a critical issue that affects the health and well-being of countless individuals. Insufficient access to resources poses severe challenges to communities, particularly in low-income countries where health care services are already strained.  

Medical stockouts can lead to dire consequences, jeopardizing the health of patients who depend on timely treatment. The unavailability of necessary supplies can hinder disease management, exacerbate health complications and contribute to the spread of infectious diseases across our borders.  

The U.S. Senate’s newly published State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Bill includes provisions aimed at addressing health care challenges while promoting greater accountability in foreign aid spending. The bill will offer transparency on funds expended, shedding light on the impact of aid dollars and ensuring that resources are effectively allocated and utilized. It also mandates consultation with the Committees on Appropriations about efforts to track funding and measure progress on activities supporting health care workers.  

I am grateful to Sen. Marco Rubio for his support in advancing these crucial health care provisions. By addressing medical stockouts while promoting greater transparency — as well as accountability — in foreign aid spending, Sen. Rubio has demonstrated his commitment to improving global health outcomes and strengthening our alliances worldwide.  

Brandon Dwight, Jacksonville 

Does DeSantis actually hate Floridians?

Anyone who works or has a business here in Florida must pay federal taxes. This is our money but for us to benefit from it, the governor must accept it. However, this is apparently not happening, as Gov. Ron DeSantis uses the future of Florida as a political tool for his presidential agenda. 

That means $377 million of our money was rejected. These dollars were to help Florida citizens with the costs of improving their energy efficiency, to make cooling and other activities less costly in terms of utility bills. It was to help low-income families (and us seniors) withstand increasing heat and higher electric bills. 

Denying these funds harms local contractors and their employees who will miss out on these jobs that pay well. It also cuts into state tax revenues. 

This money does not come out of Florida’s budget and it does not come out of DeSantis’ pocket. It is money we have already paid. Florida residents are being denied access to our own funds for political reasons. 

It’s time for the Florida Legislature to put its citizens’ well-being ahead of a political agenda. I urge all who read this to write or call your state legislators. 

Paul Kruger, Interlachen 

Jail largest mental health facility in Jax

The Duval County jail in downtown Jacksonville.

Your July 27 article “Jail changes its health care” was helpful in understanding the failure of our jail to provide adequate health care to inmates. However, it neglected to mention that our jail is the largest institution for mentally ill individuals in our community. 

This isn’t by design but by default. If an individual is harassing citizens, sleeping in vacant buildings or urinating in public, they frequently end up in our jail even though they have been diagnosed with a form of mental illness. The reason is because we do not have enough community programs to address their problems

Our jail is not set up to deal with the issues of the mentally ill and should not be expected to do so. As a result, many mentally ill are released back into the community after a short stay in jail without adequately addressing their mental health issues. 

We can reduce our jail population and make our community a better place to live for all by investing in more programs that are designed to address the issues of the mentally ill. 

Stanley J. Grenn, Jacksonville 

Now mathematicians are worried 

Overlooking the sunset from the Tampa Convention Center patio. The facility is the site of the 2023 MathFest, hosted by the Mathematical Association of America, which was forced to address concerns from many members as to whether it was safe to travel in Florida.

Next month, more than 2,000 math educators and enthusiasts are scheduled to attend an annual conference in Tampa of talks, activities and networking sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America. As a Florida resident, I was embarrassed that some members felt a need to ask whether it is safe to meet in our state and that the association (of which I have been a member for 54 years) had to address their concerns

This shows how the homophobic and transgender prejudices, along with the discriminatory legislation of our governor and the Republican Legislature is already affecting our economy, as well as the attractiveness of our state. 

Why can’t our government simply follow the Golden Rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Everybody is different in some way. As long as those who are different aren’t hurting you, they are entitled to all the same privileges and protections as every other citizen. 

Roy Goldman, Atlantic Beach 

Only one way Republicans can win

Gov. Ron DeSantis (left) listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on the coronavirus in 2020.

The latest efforts by the Department of Justice to destroy former President Donald Trump while apparently protecting President Joe Biden have reached a level that must be addressed. In my opinion, the weaponization of law enforcement to attack one’s political opponents has to end now if we are to remain a democracy. 

Practically speaking, I think this will only happen if the Democratic Party loses the White House, Senate and House of Representatives in November 2024. To win the White House, Republicans must unite behind Trump, which means all the other candidates should en masse publicly delay their presidential campaigns until 2028 — including Gov. Ron DeSantis

Hopefully, Trump will then move to unite the party by choosing Gov. DeSantis to be his vice president, and the next Congress will work to revamp the Department of Justice, as well as the FBI — and restore our freedoms. 

William D. Price, Jacksonville 

Charmed by Le Chateau story

The courtyard of Le Chateau, circa 1960, before the oceanfront restaurant in Atlantic Beach was destroyed by Hurricane Dora in 1964. It was soon rebuilt. The original structure dated to 1938, when it was built as a private residence for jeweler Hayden Crosby.

Thank you, Matt Soergel, for the July 26 story of Le Chateau restaurant in Atlantic Beach. I had never heard of this establishment and what a wonderful place it seems to have been. Multiple famous people obviously loved it, patrons who frequented it still have fond memories and the stories (I am sure there are many more) were funny and amusing. 

Oh, to have been around this place back in the day. It may be long gone, but articles such as this can keep its legacy alive. I enjoy reading about Jacksonville’s history, and this one was a gem. Please provide more like this. When I finished reading this delightful story I thought, “That was a beautiful article.” 

Thank you for enlightening me, as well as brightening my day. 

Patrick Doran, Jacksonville 

A July 29 article reported on South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s criticism of the new slavery curriculum in Florida. It seems that Gov. Ron DeSantis and his enablers are trying to convince us that people can benefit from being exploited if they learn a trade in the process (no matter how horribly they’re treated). 

Currently we have laws that say corporations can’t use products made with forced labor. Is anyone saying these modern-day slaves are benefiting from the skills they’re learning while being enslaved? No — because such a statement would be horrific. 

Why does Gov. DeSantis think such a statement is any less horrific when it refers to people who were enslaved in this country prior to the 13th Amendment? 

Source: Jackson Ville