Republican school bill mocked for claim Frederick Douglass debated Lincoln

A Republican bill to ban the teaching of “divisive concepts” in schools in Virginia ran into ridicule when among historical events deemed suitable for study, it described a nonexistent debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

The Virginia bill was sponsored by Wren Williams, a freshman Republican sent to the state capital, Richmond, in a tumultuous November election.

The elementary error in Williams’s bill attracted national attention, including from the Washington Post. However, reports that the bill had been withdrawn were in error, a spokesperson for the politician said on Friday.

“New rule,” wrote Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor. “If you don’t know the difference between Frederick Douglass and Stephen Douglas, you don’t get to tell anyone else what to teach.”

Many were also happy to point out that Douglass has caused embarrassment for Republicans before. In 2017, Donald Trump at least gave the impression he thought the great campaigner was alive.

“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognised more and more, I notice,” the former president said.

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