Nel's New Day

June 19, 2021

Time to Talk Critical Race Theory

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 12:01 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

One of the speakers featured at this weekend’s Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority Conference was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), spreading more disinformation about critical race theory. He claimed that CRT tells every white person they are a racist and the theory is “as racist as the Klansmen in white sheets.” Then he topped off his damning remarks by how it came from Marxism, that CRT changed the conflict “between the owners of capital and the working men and women” to that of race. Cruz finished by claiming he loves everyone, “whatever skin color you are” before he compared Democrats to the Terminator: they “are soulless, have no brain, and red eyes.” So much for love.

Most people have heard the term “critical race theory,” but most people may not know what it means. For that reason, Christopher Rufo decided it would be the “perfect weapon” against Democrats and created the conflict with falsehoods about it. He took advantage of remote work, making leaked large meetings and emailed documents much easier to access. In July 2020, a Seattle employee sent Rufo documentation from an anti-bias training session, and he sent a report claiming forced education about internalized white supremacy to the center-right Manhattan Institute, once home to white nationalist Charles Murray who talks about Blacks have lower IQs than Whites:

“Under the banner of ‘antiracism,’ Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights is now explicitly endorsing principles of segregationism, group-based guilt, and race essentialism—ugly concepts that should have been left behind a century ago.”

Collecting more stories of anti-racism trainings, Rufo noted they cited popular anti-racism books, for example, by Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. The books’ footnotes cited academic scholarship from the 1990s by legal scholars arguing current laws and societal rules reflecting past white supremacy which were called critical race theory. Rufo associated CRT with critical-theory, sometimes Marxist, research by the 1968 generation including Angela Davis—aka “red-baiting.” He created language to supplant the former conservative targets such as “political correctness” during President Obama’s second term and “cancel culture” of more recent years. He wrote:

“’Critical race theory’ is the perfect villain. Its connotations are all negative to most middle-class Americans, including racial minorities, who see the world as ‘creative’ rather than ‘critical,’ ‘individual’ rather than ‘racial,’ ‘practical’ rather than ‘theoretical.’ Strung together, the phrase ‘critical race theory’ connotes hostile, academic, divisive, race-obsessed, poisonous, elitist, anti-American.”

On Tucker Carlson’s show, Rufo said, “It’s absolutely astonishing how critical race theory”—emphasizing the last three words by saying them slowly—“has pervaded every aspect of the federal government.” He continued by describing his articles and then said:

“Conservatives need to wake up. This is an existential threat to the United States. And the bureaucracy, even under Trump, is being weaponized against core American values. And I’d like to make it explicit: The President and the White House—it’s within their authority to immediately issue an executive order to abolish critical-race-theory training from the federal government. And I call on the President to immediately issue this executive order—to stamp out this destructive, divisive, pseudoscientific ideology.”

The next day, White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows called Rufo who immediately helped draft a presidential executive order issued in late September to block contractors from talking about race in federal diversity seminars. Recently, Rufo bragged about how the conservative campaign against critical race theory he invented “came from nothing.”

The farthest right became Rufo’s followers: Carlson hosted Rufo for an hour-long segment on “woke education”; Rufo advised language for over ten bills banning the teaching of CRT; and people like Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) use Rufo’s language. He speaks to Congress and has drinks with Cruz. The Fox network mentioned “critical race theory” 1,300 times in under four months—244 times last week—in order to influence the 2022 election

Rufo’s goal in his personal movement is “to politicize the bureaucracy,” allowing conservatives to take over from the liberals. His laws prevent social studies teachers from explaining current events at all levels. Three months ago, Rufo promised to make CRT “toxic” in the public imagination. He even provided his own definition of the term in a tweet:

“The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”

Five states passed bills preventing the teaching of CRT—whatever they think it is—and another seventeen introduced bills to ban that education. The bills condemn teaching of historical racism and its impact on modern U.S. society as divisive or racist. Florida, Montana, and Utah have banned CRT through their states’ boards of education.

Law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw explained that in the “post-George Floyd backlash” the anti-CRT campaign tries to change the argument focus from addressing structural racism to the anti-racism seminars addressing structural racism.

Conservatives are delighted with the success of its anti-CRT campaign. The Affordable Care Act hasn’t gone away, the religious right hasn’t yet destroyed LGBTQ rights, and Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) involvement in elections frightens Republicans for future elections. Now the far right feels successful because they are banning the teaching of a concept in the schools that has not been taught in schools. They have defeated a threat that doesn’t exist. Instead, teachers are becoming terrified of even mentioning race—a difficult proposition when explaining the newest federal holiday of Juneteenth. Conservatives complain about a new holiday to recognize just one race, forgetting that the original Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, celebrated only White people. No people of color had “independence” in the United States of the 18th century.

After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis forced the state board of education to ban CRT in classrooms, the state’s U.S. GOP Sen. Rick Scott proposed a similar resolution in the Senate. It claims CRT “serves as a prejudicial ideological tool, rather than an educational tool, and should not be taught in K-12 classrooms” while encouraging states and localities to take action to discourage the theory. The resolution avoided the truth: CRT is not a defined doctrine, and CRT, taught in graduate school, does appear in K-12 schools. Three senators co-sponsoring the resolution did not provide specific supporting information, and three anti-CRT groups did not explain its problems.

Falsehoods used to “support” the resolution:

“Whereas Critical Race Theory’s teachings stand in contrast to the overarching goal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prevent discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the United States”: Nope. CRT supporters believe in the Civil Rights Act, hailed as an important step to equality, but think that more is needed to done to achieve its goal of equality “in the polling booths, in the classrooms, in the factories, and in hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, and other places that provide service to the public,” as Lyndon Johnson said. When the law didn’t cause the end of discrimination, Harvard philosopher Cornel West praised CRT’s founders in the 1990s for exposing society’s failure to deliver on the “possibilities for human freedom and equality.” Khiara Bridges’ 2018 book, Critical Race theory: A Primer, showed that Blacks are still disproportionately poor.

“Whereas Critical Race Theory serves to resegregate institutions of education and balkanize students into groups by race and ethnicity”: Nope. No current scholarship advocates resegregating schools. Any desire appears to be extremely limited. Desegregation peaked in 1988, but by 2016, they were returning to segregation. As children see more racism in their lives, they can learn about it.

“Whereas efforts to indoctrinate critical race theory into United States school children are designed to eventually transform the United States by stigmatizing its economic system and creating a hatred of all its institutions”: Nope. Anti-CRT people can’t find any examples of this. Teaching history shows a growth from the nation’s inception when voting was related to owning property and people could be owned. Learning how this is wrong is part of civic reasoning.

“Whereas the 1619 Project, which puts slavery, not the ideal of equality, at the center of our Nation’s storyline, and has been widely debunked by historians across the ideological spectrum, is nevertheless being taught in 4,500 classrooms across the country”: The New York Times edition on the legacy of slavery and racism in America since the arrival of the first slaves in 2019 was revised, and classroom materials are not identical to the piece. In addition, the material is available to classrooms but not mandated.

A definition of CRT from Isaac Saul on the middle-of-the road website Tangle:

“An academic movement that recognizes systemic racism in American society and examines how that racism impacts the law, institutions, and outcomes. It argues that many social problems are influenced more by racial inequity in societal structures than individual or psychological factors. CRT teaches that racism is an everyday experience for people of color, and that white supremacy maintains its power through our systems of government and law.”

He continues:

“If K-12 students are being taught that they are inherently inferior, superior, or racist, based on their race—or otherwise being compelled to espouse those ideas—they are already protected by our country’s laws. And they can use those laws to seek recourse.”

There’s much more to say about critical theory, but basically, as its inventor claimed, its “toxic” and the “perfect weapon.”

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