The Benefits of being Enslaved, or of Ron Desantis not Existing
Ron Desantis is a fascist, as well as a racist, a misogynist, a jackass, and an asshole. Those things are often tied, but not always so tightly and in such a massive, wretched bundle as they are in Desantis’s case. There are a lot of politicians riding the culture war train, hopping from one shaky, asinine cart to the next, and there are a handful who actually believe their own deranged vitriol. But Desantis is among those rare few who seems to actually believes his own bullshit and relishes the damage he does. He’s among the few with the apparent will and ability to act on the worst ideas and impulses of the Right’s diseased, incestuous hivemind.
Desantis’s latest move to make the country into a fascist hellhole, spreading the sickness from tumorous Florida, has been to further distort the truth of American history. Florida’s new African American history curriculum, with the obvious influence and support of Desantis if not the explicit mandate, is taking the approach of teaching the positives of slavery. Defending the regressive, dumb-as-fuck curriculum, Desantis made the claim that enslaved Black people learned beneficial skills through their enslavement. This Orwellian distortion of the inhuman horrors of American slavery is more than a casual remark or a jackoff playing devil’s advocate. This is an evil notion expressed by an evil man. It is evil in the way that Holocaust denial and the erasure of Native American genocide are evil. It is a denial of reality. It is making the argument that there were positive aspects to horrible events. It is arguing that they weren’t actually so horrible. It is making the evil argument that there was benevolence amongst slave owners, that their actions were for the good of the humans they enslaved.
Enslaved Africans came to this country with skills already. America wasn’t a boarding school that they were all whisked off to so that they could learn a trade. They were exploited for those skills. Whatever they or their descendants learned in this country as a result of slavery was forced on them to increase their value as products. Whatever they might have learned was not for their benefit. It was to enrich their owners. The idea that Desantis is expressing is in line with those of slaveholders who claimed that they acted for the good of their slaves, that they were saving them. Desantis took a dusty old false Christian argument and made it into an economic one; rather than make the false, self-righteous claim that slave-owners were saving the souls of the enslaved, he’s saying that they were teaching them useful trade skills. The argument is hardly less hypocritical, and it is evil.
If future despotic war-criminals like Desantis want to play that game, to make the case that there are good sides to every bad story, that even in bad situations positive things happened, one could make similar claims about him. For example, there would be benefits to him dying. Not just in the sense that the country and world would be a lot better off without him. But even in the lives of those to whom he matters, there would be beneficial aspects. His family, for example, might be upset if he died, and I wouldn’t judge them if they weren’t, but there would be benefits for them as well. They’d get to have his money without needing to pretend like they like him for decades. But more than that, they’d gain invaluable skills. They’d learn to be independent. They’d learn to live in the world without the burden of having Ron Desantis as a husband or father. It might be difficult, not having a father or husband in general, even one of such poor quality as Desantis, but think of the resilience they’ll develop as a result. They’ll be stronger, better, and potentially much happier, people without Desantis in their lives. As would we all be.