MSNBC, CNN Condemn DeSantis For Not Allowing Woke History

News & Politics

MSNBC and CNN are not pleased with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ latest attempts to stop woke-ism in Florida with Alex Wagner sarcastically congratulating him for “keeping hockey white” on Wednesday while Wagner and Friday’s CNN This Morning both acted as if Florida will no longer be teaching history.

On the hockey front, Wagner lamented, “DeSantis goes after all kinds of things for being woke. College basketball, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Disney, even math textbooks and now he is slamming professional hockey. The NHL recently announced a push for more diversity in its ranks. Its workforce is over 80 percent white and its players over 90 percent white.”

Wagner’s already run into trouble. Lamenting the fact that the NHL’s players are 90 percent white ignores that only 38 percent of NHL players are Americans.

She then reported that, “But when they announced a jobs fair in Florida, DeSantis’s office called it discrimination for the NHL to specifically invite applicants from underrepresented backgrounds. The NHL folded, and removed the job fair posting. So congratulations if you had keeping hockey white on your bingo card of Ron DeSantis’s second term priorities.”

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But Wagner misrepresents the job fair in question. The controversy wasn’t whether the NHL was seeking to deepen its talent pool by making a point to specifically reach out to communities not traditionally associated with hockey, but whether it was exclusively doing so.

Wagner then moved onto DeSantis’s decision to not allow AP African-American Studies to be taught in the state. Courses ending in “studies” are notoriously political, but Wagner did not see it that way, “All of this is bad enough for the people of Florida, but it may concern all of us outside of Florida if DeSantis really is on his way to a presidential run.”

She then introduced Columbia Journalism School dean and The New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb, “Can you give us your thoughts on the moves that the DeSantis administration is making to censor the teaching of history and race in this country?”

For Cobb, it was if DeSantis just banned history class, “they’re trying to eradicate the history of the Civil Rights Movement.”

That’s objectively not true and ridiculous, but Cobb was just getting started, “And so in this march backward to make this heavy-handed diktat about what can be taught and what can’t be taught, you’re literally pushing these institutions back into the past.”

As it was on CNN This Morning when Sara Sidner, discussing the same AP African-American Studies controversy and is relates to the wider movement against Critical Race Theory, uttered, “so that’s a real problem when you look back at all this because people were oppressed in this country and should that not be taught?”

Sidner then assumed that because Critical Race Theory has “critical” in its name, it must promote critical thinking, “I think we can teach that and people can learn from that and you’re supposed to be thinking critically. There’s this whole argument that is being made, but this is an Advanced Placement course. So, what if Critical Race Theory is in it? Who cares? Teach kids to think, not what to think.”

Thinking critically means challenging your own assumptions whereas CRT starts with the assumption racism is the answer and then shoehorns evidence to fit a pre-determined conclusion. It is the exact opposite of critical thinking.

Alex Wagner Tonight was sponsored by Safelite and CNN This Morning was sponsored by BMW.

Here is a transcript for the January 18 and 19 shows:

MSNBC Alex Wagner Tonight

1/18/2023

9:35 PM ET

ALEX WAGNER: A few minutes ago we were talking about states that are newly controlled by Democrats on that how their agendas differ starkly from the agendas in states controlled by Republicans and I think it is safe to say that wherever the GOP states are going next, Florida will get their first. 

Fresh off his big second term win, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is turbo charging his war on woke. In which woke seems to mean anything Ron DeSantis doesn’t like. DeSantis goes after all kinds of things for being woke. College basketball, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Disney, even math textbooks and now he is slamming professional hockey. The NHL recently announced a push for more diversity in its ranks. Its workforce is over 80% white and its players over 90% white.

But when they announced a jobs fair in Florida, DeSantis’s office called it discrimination for the NHL to specifically invite applicants from underrepresented backgrounds. The NHL folded, and removed the job fair posting. So congratulations if you had keeping hockey white on your bingo card of Ron DeSantis’s second term priorities. 

But it is Florida schools and universities that its governor is really trying to re-fashioning an anti-woke image. DeSantis has just packed the board of Florida’s most progressive public college with handpicked allies. 

He’s aiming to turn New College into a conservative, Christian school. These newborn members include Chris Rufo, who’s orchestrated the right-wing attack on critical race theory. And Rufo is straightforward about his goals. Quote, “we have successfully frozen their brand, Critical Race Theory, into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.” 

Meanwhile, professors at other Florida universities are canceling their courses dealing with race for fear of being fired. Today, the presidents of Florida’s System of Community and State Colleges put out a joint statement declaring they stand with Governor Desantis and won’t let evil Critical Race Theory invade their campuses. 

Also today, the state board of education finalized a rule that could see school librarians prosecuted for having undesirable books in their libraries. Undesirable to DeSantis and his allies. 

And in a final flourish, today, we learn that DeSantis has rejected a high school Advanced Placement course in African-American Studies, the course is already being piloted in 60 schools across the country, but apparently in the state of Florida, that curriculum is against the law. 

The conservative National Review reported excitedly today on the letter the DeSantis Administration sent to the College Board which sets AP course curriculum. That letter says, quote “the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” And it invites the College Board to quote, “come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content.”

 All of this is bad enough for the people of Florida, but it may concern all of us outside of Florida if DeSantis really is on his way to a presidential run. 

Joining us now is Jelani Cobb, dean of the Columbia Journalism School and a staff writer at The New Yorker

Dean Cobb, Jelani, thank you so much for being with us. I think that there is no better person to put into perspective how damaging this agenda is, in terms of education and higher education. Can you give us your thoughts on the moves that the DeSantis administration is making to censor the teaching of history and race in this country? 

JELANI COBB: Sure. Well, this is a very practical point to this. Like, they’re trying to eradicate the history of the Civil Rights Movement, a must movement, among other things. Weirdly enough, the Civil Rights Movement is what made it possible for those universities to be so prominent in the first place. 

The quiet part of this narrative is that certainly black people in the south benefited from the Civil Rights Movement, the second biggest beneficiaries of the Civil Rights Movement were the southern business class and its universities. Its Chambers of Commerce that we’re hoping to modernize the south which was viewed as an economic and intellectual backwater by most of the country. 

And so in this march backward to make this heavy-handed diktat about what can be taught and what can’t be taught, you’re literally pushing these institutions back into the past. 

So good with attracting world class faculty and keeping them there. Good luck with attracting the top students. Good luck with maintaining the rankings that make these universities in the south competitive in the first place. This is the kind of rear guard march with maybe the people who were in those crowds cheering, but none of those people are going to be responsible for what happens when the universities start catering in terms of their prestige and regard to which people view them. 

***

CNN This Morning

1/19/2023

8:35 AM ET

SARA SIDNER: But in his tweet he literally says we’re going to create this — make this toxic and use it as a catchall for all things we don’t like and so that’s a real problem when you look back at all this because people were oppressed in this country and should that not be taught? I think we can teach that and people can learn from that and you’re supposed to be thinking critically. There’s this whole argument that is being made, but this is an Advanced Placement course. So, what if Critical Race Theory is in it? Who cares? Teach kids to think, not what to think.

KAITLIN COLLINS: And you know who’s put the crossfires of all this or the cross hairs of all this is educators.

SIDNER: Absolutely. Absolutely, and they’re suffering with this because they’re afraid they’re going to break the law if they say the wrong thing. What a place to be in, but that’s where we are.

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