Joe Henderson: Florida Citizens Alliance is for freedom, but only its kind of freedom

school textbooks

The Florida Citizens Alliance advances “the ideals and principles of liberty.” It says so right on its website.

Well, glory be! We all love liberty, right?

But hold on a moment and imagine the kind of “liberty” the FCA seeks.

The FCA is working hard now to remove about 100 books from Florida public schools, for starters. I assume that’s because nothing says liberty like censoring literature the FCA doesn’t approve from the state’s public-school classrooms.

But that’s precisely what the Tampa Bay Times reported the group is working with Republican lawmakers to do.

This is the same fun bunch that successfully pushed in 2017 for state residents to have “input” on what textbooks are used by schools. They don’t have to have kids in school to demand an audience with school officials and squabble over textbook content.

What’s happening with the Florida Citizens Alliance now has been going on for years in Florida and other states. Parents helped drive out a drama teacher at my small-town Ohio high school back in the day because he wanted to stage the play “Tartuffe” by Moliere.

The play tweaked religious hypocrisy masked as Christian virtue. Protect young minds from such talk because otherwise, they might start to think.

But I digress.

Usually, these movements sputter and die in the face of academic freedom (oh, that word again). This is different, though.

The FCA wants to wrest from the hands of teachers and students the book “Essentials of Oceanography” from Pearson Education Inc. It commits the high crime of suggesting climate change is real and is affecting oceans.

It’s not as Florida students would benefit from learning how man-made climate change might have led to the rapid intensification of Hurricane Michael last fall before it annihilated parts of the Panhandle, right?

The Florida Citizens Alliance supports freedom of religion, but it should be the one practiced by most of its members.

Hint: That isn’t Islam.

The group also objects to the book “A Gateway To U.S. History” because, oh, take a guess.

Its reviewer suggests rewriting part of the textbook that deals with the Battle of Fort Sumter that started the Civil War.

“The North was fighting initially to save the unification of states and eventually to end slavery. The South was fighting for its independence,” the FCA would like the passage to read.

Yeah. The independence of southern states, including Florida, to own slaves.

The Museum of Florida History laid it out.

“The 1860 census recorded nearly 63,000 blacks in the state,” the museum declared. “Of this figure, almost 62,000 were listed as slaves, while less than 1,000 were free blacks. Because of the restrictive laws of the time, even those few who were ‘free’ had only very limited freedom.”

We could do this all day, but you get the idea.

The FCA says it opposes indoctrination if it comes from the dreaded liberal left, but its kind of indoctrination is just fine.

Censorship. Revisionist history. Religious exclusion.

And now it has an increasing number of sympathetic legislators open to making that happen.

If that succeeds, where does it stop?

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

One comment

  • Please name which Republican lawmakers they are working with with an edit to your article. Thank you.

    March 18, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Please name which Republican lawmakers they are working with. Thank you.

Comments are closed.


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