The DeSantis administration is considering scrapping the 93-year-old Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the 64-year-old American College Testing (ACT) which are used by more than 1.760 colleges and universities out of a total of more than 4,000 nationwide.
The proposal is to replace those college entrance exams with the Classic Learning Test (CLT) as part of an ongoing campaign to whitewash what history is taught in public schools, colleges and universities. “Not only do we need to build anew by returning to the foundations of our democracy, but CLT also offers the opportunity for all our colleges & universities to right size their priorities,” Henry Mack, Florida Department of Education’s senior chancellor, tweeted. Ofﬁcials such as Mack do not make comments that contradict Governor Ronald Dion DeSantis Jr.’s thinking which is a preference for teaching about “Western civilization,” along with defunding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. DeSantis wants to counter what he described in a January 21 press statement as “tactics of liberal elites who suppress free thought in the name of identity politics and indoctrination. In Florida, we will build off of our higher education reforms by aligning core curriculum to the values of liberty and the Western tradition.” But “identity politics and indoctrination” are exactly what is being proposed.
Historian Alan Singer, a professor of Education at Hofstra University in Long Island, in a February 1 Daily Kos column, offered possible topics for a “Western tradition” course, in his words:
* Pre-History: Modern Humans Exterminate Neanderthals
* Greece: Socrates Denounces Democracy
* Rome: Slavery in the Mediterranean
* Catholic Church: Rewriting Christianity
* Crusades: Slaughter of the Innocent
* Bubonic Plague: Ignorance and Epidemic
* Inquisition: Spain’s War on Jews and Muslims
* Columbian Exchange: Genocide in the Americas
* Human Trafﬁcking: Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
* Colonization: Grabbing Up the World
* Capitalism: Exploitation for Proﬁt
* Industrialization: Turning Workers into Factors of Production
* Manifest Destiny: Pushing Out Indigenous People
* Famine: Ignoring the Suffering of Ireland
* Imperialism: Raping Africa and Asia
* Jim Crow and the Nuremberg Laws: Pseudo-Scientiﬁc Racism
* World War 1 and 2: Murdering 100 million
* Fascism and Soviet Communism: Ideology Gone Wild
* Holocaust: Exterminating six million Jews
* Nuclear Weapons: Threatening Life on Earth
* Globalization: Capitalism Out of Control?
* Climate Change: The End of Western Civilization?
It is hardly likely that any of those topics will ﬁnd a place in the eight-year-old Classic Learning Test (CLT). Its founder, Jeremy Tate, has said the CLT focuses on “great classical and Christian tradition.” He claims that the SAT has become “increasingly ideological” in part because it has “censored the entire ChristianCatholic intellectual tradition” and other “thinkers in the history of Western thought,” The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau reported on February 17.
The CLT is already being used, mostly by private schools and in home-schooling, and about 200 largely faith-based colleges and universities accept it. Of those, 10 are in Florida, including Stetson University, Ave Maria University, Reformation Bible College, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Pensacola Christian College and Trinity Baptist College, according to the Herald/Times report. They could soon be joined by all of the state’s 40 public colleges and universities, which are already legally banned from teaching authentic American history, followed by rejection of the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American course as “of no educational value.”
The CLT would hardly include serious study of slavery but no course on “Western tradition” can exclude the topic, however painful, because slavery was fundamental to the growth of Western nations and students seeking a college education must be made aware of it. In fact, besides the United States, several Western countries enslaved Africans and some continue to have “colonies” and “dependencies.” They include Portugal (1415-1999), France (1534 to the present), Netherlands (1602-present), Denmark (1620-present), Britain (1707-present), Italy (1882-1960), Germany (1884-1920) and Belgium (19081962).
In the 16th century, 900,000 Africans were transported by ships to the Americas as slaves, according to a Cornell University study., rising to 2.75 million by the 17th century and seven million by the 18th century, dropping to four million by the 19th century.
“African peoples were captured and transported to the Americas to work. Most European colonial economies in the Americas from the 16th through the 19th century were dependent on enslaved African labor for their survival,” Howard Dodson Jr., former director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and Howard University libraries, wrote in “Jubilee: The Emergence of African American Culture.” There was abundant land in the Americas. for example, but it “was useless without sufﬁcient labor to exploit it. Slavery systems of labor exploitation were preferred but neither European nor Native American sources proved adequate to the task.”
So Africans were imported as chattel and subjected to atrocities when they tried to escape. MIT history professor Marjolene Kars provides a glimpse in her book “Bood on the River” of the inhumane treatment which, for example, the Dutch occupiers of Berbice — which eventually became part of today’s Guyana — meted out to slaves. Punishment included chopping off limbs, decapitation and displaying heads on poles.
The United Nations on Dec. 17, 2007, ﬁnally designated March 25 International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade and called on membercountries to inculcate in future generations the "causes, consequences and lessons of the transatlantic slave trade, and to communicate the dangers of racism and prejudice." It was not a call to sanitize slavery and it was made 16 years ago, more than 140 years after slavery ended in the United States.
The enslaved therefore became integral to the economic development of Western nations, which were then dependent on crops such as cotton, sugar, rice, tobacco and indigo. And, after slavery ended, the Western powers continued exploitation of other peoples, mostly Africans, as a Central Connecticut State University report indicated, “to feed the expanding European manufacturing industries.”
In fact, the Berlin Conference of 1843/1844 “formally partitioned Africa among the major European powers,” the report stated. For instance, seven Western nations were given ownership in one form or other of at least 48 other countries, cities and other territories in Africa, including Britain (15), France (12), Germany and Spain six each, Portugal four and Italy two. Other parts of the world were similarly occupied, such as Asia, the Americas and the Caribbean. Untold wealth in gold, silver and other precious commodities were seized and shipped to Europe, along with priceless cultural artifacts and the economic fruits of native populations.
Britain, for example, “drained” the equivalent of $45 trillion from India during its occupation of that country between1765 and 1938, Indian economist Utsa Patnaik told MintPress in 2018.
It is no wonder that, according to some sources, when a journalist asked Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, “What do you think of Western civilization?”, the late Indian leader replied, “I think it would be a good idea.” Several other sources doubt the authenticity of that exchange but it anyhow sums up the sentiment of a great many people then and now.