State Watch

Louisiana GOP lawmaker goes viral after mentioning ‘the good’ of slavery

Louisiana House of Representatives

A Republican state representative in Louisiana is drawing attention for comments he made about slavery during a recent committee meeting over legislation he introduced that aimed to prohibit the teaching of so-called divisive concepts in schools in the state, including the idea that the country is “systematically racist.” 

In footage of the moment that has been picking up traction online, state Rep. Ray Garofalo Jr. (R) suggested there was “good” to slavery at one point while discussing his legislation during the meeting. Not long after, he later backpedaled the comment and said he “didn’t mean to imply that.”

The initial moment happened under questioning by state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty (R) about some of the language legislation. 

“But let’s go back to part three of this, ‘Prohibit discussion of divisive concepts, as part of a larger course of academic instruction.” What does that mean? … What is a larger course of academic instruction?” she asked Garofalo.

“If you are having a discussion on whatever the case may be, on slavery, then you can talk about everything dealing with slavery: the good, the bad, the ugly,” Garofalo said.

“There is no good to slavery though,” Hilferty said before loud laughter could be heard among those in attendance during the meeting.

Not long after, Garofalo addressed those comments, saying he doesn’t “believe that” to be the case, The Washington Post reported.

“I didn’t mean to imply that. I don’t believe that and I know that’s not the case,” Garofalo, who also chairs the state House Education Committee, reportedly said.

Footage of his initial comments shared by the Louisiana Democratic Party have racked up more than 914,000 views on Twitter in the past two days.

According to The Advocate, the state’s biggest daily newspaper, Garofalo has also since shelved the legislation after lawmakers from both sides of the aisle voiced concerns. 

The legislation sought to bar schools from offering education to students and employees that promoted a list of what it referred to as “divisive concepts,” some of which featured the same language from the same “divisive concepts” the Trump administration prohibited in its controversial executive order that took aim at certain diversity training for government workers.

That order prompted legal challenges from civil rights groups immediately after it was signed in September. It was also criticized by federal workers and others who said it amounted to executive overreach.

The order was swiftly rescinded by President Biden within hours of his inauguration earlier this year.

However, a number of Republicans in multiple states have continued to introduce similar legislation seeking to outlaw the teaching of similar concepts in schools in recent months.

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