The fallout from Ron DeSantis' new "slavery: it wasn't all bad" educational standards continues, as most elected Black Republicans have now spoken out to condemn the framework and urge it be revised. Faced with this criticism from Black members of his own parties -- people who time and again have shown their commitment to conservative causes but nonetheless believe that here the state of Florida made a grave historical error -- DeSantis has responded exactly how you'd expect a White Republican to respond to challenges from Black people (whether in his party or not):
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who appointed the board members responsible for the standards, did not take the measured disapproval well. On the contrary, the governor and his political operation seemed to go after [Florida GOP Rep. Byron] Donalds with a vengeance, accusing the GOP lawmaker of aligning himself with Vice President Kamala Harris and referring to Donalds — a member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus — as “a supposedly conservative congressman.”
Speaking with reporters in Albia, Iowa, on Friday, DeSantis responded to [South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim] Scott’s comments by criticizing “D.C. Republicans” for promoting a similar argument as Harris. “I think part of the reason our country has struggled is because D.C. Republicans all too often accept false narratives, accept lies that are perpetrated by the left and accept the lie that Kamala Harris has been perpetrating, even when that has been debunked,” he said.
DeSantis was joined by, among others, Ben Shapiro ("Tim Scott ... promptly sided with Kamala Harris and he sided with the Congressional Black Caucus.... that's Scott being disingenuous") and Matt Walsh ("You are dead to us.... [B]ecome a Democrat. That's what you are."). The general response to Black Republicans expressing offense over a GOP politician soft-pedaling the wrong of slavery was not to think "huh, maybe there is something here," but to fulminate about how they're traitors to the cause.
I talked about these dynamics in "The Distinctive Political Status of Dissident Minorities". Dissident minorities such as Black Republicans are often "tokenized" -- held out as a means of discharging an obligation to consider the views of diverse communities but not valued beyond that transactional function. Hence, where Black Republicans cease, even temporarily, to offer this "value" to the broader GOP community (because in a specific case they do not agree with the particular goals or interests of the conservative movement), it won't be taken as a valid critique from insiders but rather proof that the Black Republicans are actually a fifth column reverting to their leftist roots.
Indeed, in that paper I actually specifically referenced a different instance where Senator Scott tried to diverge from his GOP colleagues on the matter of racism as a core illustration of the phenomenon. It is striking how everything I wrote there applies here as well with barely any need for revision:
[E]ven though tokenization might in some circumstances result in dissident minorities attaining political successes, the relationship forged through tokenization likely is not sufficiently robust so as to persevere in cases where the dissident minority does publicly diverge from the opinions of their majority allies. To the contrary, when they are tokenized, dissident minorities may find that their opinions are only valued transactionally—useful to the extent that they advance the goals of their non-group-member patrons and no further. Where the perspective isn’t what’s valued, dissident minorities will typically find that their “enhanced standing” falls apart the moment they express a view that diverges from their nominal allies.
Dissident minorities might contest this point. Specifically, they might suggest that their enhanced standing is not purely instrumental but rather reflects genuine respect by majority-group members regarding their substantive contributions—respect that will carry over to cases where they do find themselves forced to challenge the dominant group. By showing themselves to be “independent” or “exceptional,” the argument goes, dissident minorities earn credit with the majority that they then can redeem in cases where they do find it necessary to contest majority viewpoints....
Unfortunately, in a great many cases the cynical prediction wins out, and the dissident minority finds that the chips they thought they had amassed are unable to be cashed....
The “enhanced standing” Scott normally enjoyed by aligning with the Republican Party was a product of him being (per Arendt) an “exceptional” member of his minority group. But once he adopted (even temporarily) a critical posture towards his conservative allies, he ceased to be exceptional, and reverted to being just a regular member of the Black community. If the “earned credit” hypothesis held true, that shouldn’t have mattered—he should have been able to draw upon the well of credibility to attain a favorable reception upon raising a challenge. Yet this is not what happened: once Scott stopped being exceptional, he was treated the same as any other minority group member, and the way the GOP treats minority group members who challenge them is to dismiss them. While Scott’s patrons in the Republican Party had been happy to hold him up as proof that the GOP had Black supporters, they did not actually have any particular commitment to engaging with the Black community—even nominal “allies” in those communities—in any circumstance where it might generate challenge or change.
If Tim Scott keeps on wanting to hand me examples for my published work, who am I to argue? But this goes to show just how steady this practice of tokenization is. I'm not going to say that Tim Scott should "become a Democrat" (anymore than I think every person should!) -- his politics are his business. But surely he must realize that this will be the reality of his treatment as a Republican in perpetuity -- if he challenges the GOP on race, he will be slapped down and hard.