Greg Gutfeld of Fox News is trying really hard to make Ron DeSantis’ ‘slavery was beneficial for the enslaved’ curriculum okay. So he said Jews had to learn to be useful to survive the Holocaust, during which the Nazi regime murdered six million men, women and children — many of them upon arrival at a camp.
To hit back at the criticism of Florida’s ‘slavery was beneficial’ curriculum, Greg Gutfeld claimed in rebuttal to Jessica Tarlove, a Jewish colleague who said she was “fundamentally uncomfortable” with the line about the benefits of slavery, that Viktor Frankl wrote about how you had to be “useful” to survive the Holocaust.
“Vik Frankl talks about how you had to survive in a concentration camp by having skills. You had to be useful. Utility! Utility kept you alive!”
Greg Gutfeld downplayed the horrors of the Holocaust by paraphrasing Viktor Frankl. “Jews survived by being useful.” Gutfeld leaves out that millions died in concentration camps the day they got off the trains. Gutfeld said this to his Jewish co-worker Jessica Tarlov. pic.twitter.com/tSsrLW6nJe
— Decoding Fox News (@DecodingFoxNews) July 24, 2023
It won’t surprise you to know that Gutfeld paraphrased logotherapist Viktor Frankl in a misleading way. Frankl was a survivor of four concentration camps who explored the thesis in his book Man’s Search for Meaning that our deepest desire is to find meaning in our lives and essentially that we have a decision about how we respond to our circumstances. He also wrote about the suicidal levels of misery inflicted on the prisoners in Nazi concentration camps. In the concentration camps, he lost his wife and parents, and “perhaps most significantly, the loss of hope, dignity and meaning.”
In no way is his experience an endorsement for being forcefully taken to a concentration camp and the resulting need to find a way to prove oneself useful in hopes of appeasing monsters from murdering you.
Just because being “useful” helped some people escape death doesn’t mean it was worth being kidnapped and taken to a concentration camp. This also conveniently leaves out the fact that many victims of the Nazis were murdered quickly upon arrival at a concentration camp, and had no opportunity to be “useful.”
To suggest that an academic curriculum for middle schoolers include that people learned a skill during enslavement and being held as prisoners against their will is to promote active dehumanization and minimization of the inhumane horror of slavery.
It also leaves out the fact that many slaves were already skilled when they were kidnapped. This assumption that Black people were savages with no skills is a reflection of a toxic but all too common combination of rampant racism and poor education. DeSantis’ curriculum will only further mislead future generations on these matters, nurturing deliberately even more racism and divide in this country between those who are educated with facts and those who are taught whitewashed propaganda.
There is no reason to teach middle schoolers that slavery was beneficial to the enslaved. Even the premise that it helped its victims is a lie. Want to guess who brought important knowledge about farming rice to America? That would be the enslaved people “taken from countries along the ‘rice coast’ of Africa brought knowledge about the crop with them to the Americas.”
Being “useful” in order to avoid being murdered is not a benefit. Learning a new skill because you were kidnapped, taken from your family and home and forced to give up your work is not a ‘benefit’ of slavery.
Both of these things are survival mechanisms, utilized by people who were tortured, terrorized, murdered, raped, and more. A survival mechanism is not something victims of a horror would sign up for and it is not a benefit, nor should it be the focus for middle schoolers in education about these horrors.
Both of these suggestions of ‘benefits’ of being a victim of a horror actually end up blaming the victims of the horror: Were those who were murdered not useful enough? Should already skilled and knowledgeable slaves have been grateful to white colonists for kidnapping them, separating them from their home, families and loved ones forever, because perhaps they learned a skill they never would have needed to learn had they not been the victim of inhumane greed and entitlement?
These are arguments so disgusting as to render most of us speechless. But we must not be silent in the face of such lies, because silence is compliance and allows history to be rewritten as these folks want it to be.
Shame on Greg Gutfeld, Fox News, all of the people who repeat these lies, and most of all, shame on Governor Ron DeSantis for introducing yet another assault on freedom and dignity into our national politics.
If these conservatives find being kidnapped and tortured to be so useful, they are more than welcome to send themselves off to a concentration camp or taken to be used as slave labor no matter what their skills are currently. Until such time as they volunteer to do this, everything they are saying about the benefits of slavery and the Holocaust is a complete lie meant to gaslight victims and teach a new generation to similarly abuse the victims and plant the seeds of dehumanization for another genocide.
Listen to Sarah on the PoliticusUSA Pod on The Daily newsletter podcast here.
Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.