There is no debate on critical race theory
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, speaking at a press conference on the ban on federal funding for the teaching of critical race theory on May 12, 2021 (Photo by Michael Brochstein / Sipa USA) .) (Sipa via AP Images)
On August 10, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas proposed a amendment to the $ 3.5 billion infrastructure bill currently being considered by Congress. The provision prohibits federal funds from going to K-12 schools that teach critical race theory. That approved 50–49.
Cotton and his Republican peers, as well as Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, followed the lead of Tucker Carlson and his peers on Fox News and other right-wing outlets, who have been mounting a scare campaign to convince white Americans that Radical educators across the country are blaming their children and grandchildren for the sins of our nation’s past.
His blatant misconception of critical race theory, a branch of legal scholarship centered on the idea that racism is systemic, not merely in people’s hearts and minds.emanates of the self-admitted false claims of Christopher Rufo, an activist for the conservative Manhattan Institute. Over the past year, it has spread further through a well-funded and nationally organized network of reactionary groups such as Heritage Action, Project 1776, Citizens for American Renewal, and others.
The cotton movement follow Following in the footsteps of Republican governors, GOP-controlled state legislatures and school boards, and extremist politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene to amplify the lies and prevent teachers from passing on America’s complicated history to their students, a topic It’s only gotten more urgent since the brutal police assassination of George Floyd in May 2020. Even more moderate Republican officials, like Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, have joined the histrionic and deceptive chorus. August 30th The Columbus Office reported that his office claimed he opposed critical race theory because it “divides, rather than unites, Americans.” In fact, Republican lawmakers in the Ohio General Assembly are advancing legislation to keep critical race theory out of the state’s K-12 classrooms.
Given the constant stream of news about Republicans rebelling against the teaching of critical race theory, it would be understandable for the average American news consumer to think that this is a hot topic in America. But is not. Critical race theory is never taught in K-12 classrooms. In fact, it is rarely found in undergraduate curricula. Rather, the academic body is taught almost exclusively in law schools.
The Republican outrage operation isn’t just an attempt to stop mainstream education about race in America’s history and civics classes. It is also, but more so, an effort to invent a crisis that scares enough of its base that it throws money into the GOP coffers and votes Republican in the midterm elections. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been organize fundraising videos from his reelection campaign aimed at banning critical race theory from Sunshine State schools.
That is why it is essential that the media stop reporting on “the debate” on critical race theory. Actually, there is no debate. It is a controversy manufactured by the Republican Party and a deceptive scheme.
Unfortunately, the project has been successful. This is due, in large part, to a cunningly organized advertising campaign by right-wing activists. The activists not only secure airtime on cable TV and spread myriad posts on social media, but they also follow a detailed manual. Just listen to Tucker Carlson on Fox interviewing Rufo. Or listen to the “protesting parents” interviewed on Fox News or OANN. Almost methodically, they all use the same language. Students are “shamed,” “blamed,” and “held responsible” for American slavery or institutionalized racism.
Parents and their amplifiers follow, almost word for word, the scripts circulating in activist manuals and toolkits to oppose the critical theory of race published by Equity action and the Project 1776.
For example, this summer, two mothers of students at the Columbus Academy private preparatory academy in Ohio took their scripted comments to a national right-wing podcast and to school meetings. The tactic failed. The children were expelled from the school because their parents had carried out a sustained campaign of “false and deceptive attacks” against the school, in violation of a enrollment agreement they had signed.
Parents’ tactics shouldn’t surprise us. The racial theory anti-critical movement stems from a pattern of dishonesty. In widely repeated comments, for example, Rufo created Bogus quotes from supposedly highly reputable academic critics of racial theory who, he said, showed them to be “Marxists advocating the abolition of private property and the overthrow of capitalism.”
To understand these campaigns, we must look back. In the post-WWII era, with the rise of civil rights movements and, in particular, the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, there was a white reaction to changes in social norms that embraced, rather than repressed, diversity and racial inclusion.
The resistance that followed, what others and I call “white fear and flight,” is a prerequisite for understanding the fireworks over critical race theory. The “fear” of further racial integration led to “flight”, both literally in terms of residential and school relocation, and politically in the rejection of policies that would address racial inequalities, such as affirmative action, the expansion of affordable housing and even simple teaching. about race.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Republican politicians discovered clever, if manipulative, ways to use this fear to their advantage. Ronald Reagan mocked the queen of wellness and spoke of ending government support programs. Newt Gingrich did his best to maintain this emphasis — he lobbied for welfare reform and other cuts to safety net programs — in his release of the Contract with America. In 2016, Donald Trump took a page out of his book for stating Undocumented immigrants are “rapists” and “criminals” who cross the southern border and claim that Barack Obama, our first black president, was not born in this country. All of these charges sent the same message to Red America: that people of color posed a threat to their way of life.
Of course, the latest version of this battle is unfolding in a dramatically different media landscape. Conservative charlatans can easily spread their misinformation on Facebook and Twitter, and right-wing cable networks like Fox, Newsmax, and OANN can amplify it.
At this point, we can expect the Republicans’ bad faith arguments to sow dissension and fear. But we shouldn’t expect everyone else who knows better to fall for it. With the start of a new school year, conservatives will surely continue to use critical race theory as a club in the culture war. In order for the rest of us to be able to combat it most effectively, we must know the true nature of what we are dealing with.