GOP Rep. John James To DeSantis On Attacking Black Republicans: ‘You’ve gone too far’

Jon King, Michigan Advance

On Friday, U.S. Rep. John James (R-Shelby Twp.) joined a growing chorus of Black Republican lawmakers to call out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his state’s new Black history education standards.

DeSantis, who is seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, slammed both Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who also is running for president, for their criticism of the standards, which were approved earlier this month by the Florida Board of Education and concluded that Black people benefited from slavery because they learned skills.

DeSantis accused Donalds and Scott of siding with Vice President Kamala Harris in her denunciation of the guidelines. Harris, the first African -American and Asian-American to hold the post, called them “revisionist history” that attempted to downplay “some of the worst examples of depriving people of humanity in our world,” including rape and torture.

“Standing up for the truth if somebody is siding with Kamala Harris to launder a lie about work that these Black history scholars did in Florida for our state Department of Education, just to try to score political points against me — that’s not standing for the truth,” DeSantis told NBC News. “That’s not doing what’s right.”

In response, James tweeted Friday to DeSantis: “Nothing about that 400 years of evil was a “net benefit” to my ancestors,” adding that “if you find yourself in a deep hole put the shovel down.”

.@RonDeSantis, #1: slavery was not CTE! Nothing about that 400 years of evil was a “net benefit” to my ancestors. #2: there are only five black Republicans in Congress and you’re attacking two of them.

My brother in Christ… 🤦🏾‍♂️ if you find yourself in a deep hole put the shovel… https://t.co/9DGZw4BI0o

— John James (@JohnJamesMI) July 28, 2023

James has joined all GOP members of Michigan’s congressional delegation and has endorsed former President Donald Trump for president next year.

James also noted that there are only five Black Republicans in Congress and DeSantis was attacking two of them.

“You are now so far from the Party of Lincoln that your Ed. board is re-writing history and you’re personally attacking conservatives like @VoteTimScott and @ByronDonalds on the topic of slavery. You’ve gone too far. Stop,” he said.

Many right-wing leaders, however, have pushed back against James for his criticism of DeSantis.

“Beyond disappointing from you. Conservatives won’t forget this,” tweeted Curtis Houck, managing editor of the right-wing NewsBusters website.

Steve Deace, a podcast host on The Blaze, a right-wing network, accused James of lying in support of Trump over DeSantis.

“My “brother in Christ” here is bearing false witness,” tweeted Deace. “These claims about the curriculum have already been debunked numerous times, and he either knows this or is so grossly misinformed he doesn’t belong in public office. But this is too often the price of close alignment with Trump, whom he just endorsed.”

Scott, the only Black Republican in the U.S. Senate, told reporters on Thursday that it was wrong to portray slavery for anything but what it was.

“What slavery was really about was separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating,” he said. “So I would hope that every person in our country — and certainly running for president — would appreciate that.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Unite and Win Rally Aug. 19, 2022, at the Metroplex Expo Center in Girard, Ohio. | Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal

Also criticizing DeSantis over the curriculum was Black Republican presidential candidate former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas.

“Implying that there is an upside to slavery is absolutely wrong,” he said.

Speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Hurd doubled-down on his criticism of DeSantis.

“It would be hard to make the case, if Ron DeSantis was the Republican nominee, that folks in Black and brown communities should support him,” he said. “Folks in the LGBTQ community won’t support him because of his hateful rhetoric towards my friends in the LGBTQ community. And then, he hired a guy who had known cases of being antisemitic and then wrote it — and then created a video that they tried to propagate on their systems. And then, he had to be fired. So, this is a trend. One is an exception. Three is a trend, and this is a big problem.”

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

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