Jennings Educates CNN Panel On Florida’s Anti-CRT History Laws

News & Politics

CNN’s voice of reason Scott Jennings displayed amazing patience on Friday’s CNN Tonight as he calmly debunked self-righteous senior political correspondent John Avlon and condescending former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner on the issue of what exactly Florida requires as part of its history curriculum.

As part of a discussion of Gov. Ron DeSantis disallowing AP African-American Studies, Avlon declared “Well, I think, first of all, what DeSantis is doing with this AP history course is about identifying a political tactic they think is a winner for the Republican base in particular, this war on woke. I think it shows that a lot of the conversations around free speech really fall apart when it’s pushing their own ideological agenda.”

Every state, liberal, conservative, and everything in-between has laws regarding curriculum, but only when conservatives enact them is it a threat to “free speech.” Burning a straw man, Avlon continued, “I think that a full and fair understanding of U.S. history needs to be taught. That’s something we should be unflinching about, the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

What makes Avlon’s statement worse is he immediately followed by acknowledging this isn’t actually what conservatives believe, “I would also say that a group More in Common did a study called, Defusing the History Wars, just last month. And it showed … that Republicans are not as hostile to a balanced teaching of American history as some on the left would have you believe.”

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So, why did Avlon portray Florida’s decision like he did?

Host Laura Coates then tossed the conversation to Turner for her thoughts. Referencing Jennings’s earlier remarks, Turner wasted no time condescending, “So, let me get back with Scott since he wants to go there. For years, for decades, for generations in this country, black children have had to carry inferiority on their backs, in their minds, in their hearts.”

She then took the straw man Avlon burned and nuked its remains, “And anybody that would fix their mouth, to quote my grandmother, to say that chattel slavery was okay, that the enslavement of black people was okay, that having separate but unequal was okay, then there is something wrong with them.”

In 2022, Turner ran in the Democratic primary in Ohio’s dark blue 11th congressional district. She lost by 32 points and now everyone saw why as she added, “So, Scott, if you and other white people got a problem with the whole of American history being taught, then you’re the ones that have a problem.”

Jennings then calmly took apart this rant, “Yes. Well, Nina, you ought to be very happy with Governor DeSantis because not only is African-American history under Florida law required to be taught to school children, it has actually been expanded during his governorship… it is an absolute state requirement in Florida that they teach African- American history. And it’s gotten more expansive since he came in. So, you sound upset with me, but the fact is Governor DeSantis –”

Turner then interrupted, “The way he wants it taught, Scott, right… The party of free speech is taking away people’s speech.”

And Turner wants history taught the way she wants. After Coates rebuked the duo for talking over each other, Jennings concluded, “So, you say you want it taught, it is being taught. I think you’re upset about this class, but holistically speaking, they’re getting a really good education in Florida about African-American history in the United States.”

Sounds exactly like the More in Common study Avlon referenced earlier.

This segment was sponsored by Subaru.

Here is a transcript for the January 20 show:

CNN Tonight

1/20/2023

10:07 PM ET

JOHN AVLON: Well, I think, first of all, what DeSantis is doing with this AP history course is about identifying a political tactic they think is a winner for the Republican base in particular, this war on woke. I think it shows that a lot of the conversations around free speech really fall apart when it’s pushing their own ideological agenda.

I think that a full and fair understanding of U.S. history needs to be taught. That’s something we should be unflinching about, the good, the bad, and the ugly. But I think what a lot of folks, and white parents in particular, are concerned about is this idea that it’s a teaching of America as a fundamentally flawed country, rotten at its core, and that a stigmatization along lines of race to kids in grade school.

I would also say that a group More in Common did a study called, Defusing the History Wars, just last month. And it showed there’s a perception gap that Democrats are not as far-left on issues as the right-wing would have you believe and that Republicans are not as hostile to a balanced teaching of American history as some on the left would have you believe.

COATES: You know, Nina, I want to bring you back on that, because the idea of belief is harkened back in that conversation, and what people believe is happening and the idea of almost building off of the assumptions of what it actually means. And I would suggest there’s also the notion of as the counterargument, they want to have a bill to, in lieu of Critical Race Theory, which is not being taught in schools—in grade schools, they want to have a teacher training on patriotism instead, as if it’s really an either/or scenario. What’s your reaction?

TURNER: And it’s not an either/or. So, let me get back with Scott since he wants to go there. For years, for decades, for generations in this country, black children have had to carry inferiority on their backs, in their minds, in their hearts. This country, going back to what John said, the good, the bad, and the ugly, well, let me tell you a little bit about the bad and the ugly. Chattel slavery was bad and ugly. And to be able to teach African-American history in a holistic way, which is America’s history, this country has some good, it has some bad, and it has some ugly.

And anybody that would fix their mouth, to quote my grandmother, to say that chattel slavery was okay, that the enslavement of black people was okay, that having separate but unequal was okay, then there is something wrong with them. Number two, Scott, Critical Race Theory is taught in law school. It is not taught in K-12. However, the point that I was making was about the teaching of African-American history itself, which is America’s history. And to teach that history, you have to teach the whole of it. You can’t just teach one part of it. So, it’s not just about making white children feel inferior. This is about teaching history in the broadest way so that people can gain a deeper understanding and hopefully through that understanding, things can change.

I don’t see Governor DeSantis doing away with AP European History or AP World History. I wonder why that is. So, Governor DeSantis needs to focus on governing the state and stay out of education and let the educators educate.

So, Scott, if you and other white people got a problem with the whole of American history being taught, then you’re the ones that have a problem. This ain’t about making anybody feel inferior, but Brown v. Board of Education was just that, about how generations of black children have been made to feel inferior in these United States of America.

COATES: Scott, let me get –

TURNER: And it was founded on racism and bigotry.

COATES: Let’s get Scott back in here and I want you to respond. What is your reaction, Scott?

JENNINGS: Yes. Well, Nina, you ought to be very happy with Governor DeSantis because not only is African-American history under Florida law required to be taught to school children, it has actually been expanded during his governorship.

This particular class they don’t like because of some of the curriculum points they think is in conflict with Florida law. But it is an absolute state requirement in Florida that they teach African- American history. And it’s gotten more expansive since he came in. So, you sound upset with me, but the fact is Governor DeSantis –

TURNER: The way he wants it taught, Scott, right.

JENNINGS: No. He’s not writing the curriculum –

TURNER: The party of free speech is taking away people’s speech.

COATES: Hold on, Nina. Excuse me. Guys, no one –

JENNINGS: He’s not writing the curriculum. I’m just telling you the facts.

COATES: Excuse me, excuse me. Hello television 101. No one can hear you when you talk over each other. So, let’s just go back, I want to hear your response Scott and I’ll allow you to speak. Go ahead.

JENNINGS: Yes, I’m just — I’ll just wrap up and say, you know, the governor of this state is not writing the curriculum. I’m just telling you the facts. School children learn African-American history in Florida and it’s gotten more expansive on his watch. So, you say you want it taught, it is being taught. I think you’re upset about this class, but holistically speaking, they’re getting a really good education in Florida about African-American history in the United States.

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