Here is a supercut of the spin the left-biased media and its commentators were putting on the Republican victory in Virginia, where Loudoun County was Graund Zero for parent-school board battles over the teaching of “critical race theory, or CRT:
CRT is a generalization, allowing progressives who desperately want to have our rising generations indoctrinated into the useful (well, to them) construct that the United States was founded on racism, that its institutions and laws are poisoned by racist beliefs and intentions, that whites are all complicit in a perpetual effort to obstruct the progress and rights of black citizens, and that blacks have been and are perpetual victims requiring permanent and ongoing remedial benefits, standards and advantages. This is being dishonestly called ‘teaching history,” when it is not. It is, instead, teaching a narrow, activist-centered interpretation of history that is no more “factual” than Marxist theory, libertarianism, or Islam. It is also, by its very nature, not anti-racism, but anti-white and anti-American.
Like so many other public debates over culture and policy, the progressive trick that worked so well during the Obama administration has been re-loaded, aimed and fired at criticism of the CRT push. All criticism of black politicians and leaders was (and still is) declared “racist.” It worked, too. Criticism of Barack Obama and others was muted, as potential critics shrank from being stigmatized. Opposing policies that were proposed by black activists or existing policies, like affirmative action, on rational and legitimate grounds also risked being called racist. Oppose the removal of a Thomas Jefferson statue? That’s racist. Point out that Black Lives Matter is an anti-white, anti-police, Marxist con? You believe black lives don’t matter! Racist!
This has been so effective that it was only natural that the same strategy would be employed to make parents wary of opposing public school lessons that were designed to make all children detest their own nation, while encouraging black children to abandon the concept of personal accountability for the acceptance of group grievance and permanent government stewardship. Whites are expected to regard themselves as unjust beneficiaries of a racist society, requiring them to be permanently penitent and submissive. Teaching “white privilege” is based in critical race theory, though it is not technically part of the theory. So is arguing for the elimination of certain laws, like shoplifting, refusing to incarcerate “non-violent” criminals, “defunding the police,” “reparations,” airbrushing away the nation’s honors to its Founders, and so much more.
On his excelled newsletter on substack, Ethics Alarms commenter Humble Talent does a superb job explaining the rhetorical and conceptual slight of hand underway, as he writes in part,
To boil the theory down as I understand it; Because many of (particularly) America’s laws, rules and traditions were written by people who were racist, white supremacy lives on between the margins, and so we should look at those laws, rules and traditions to see if they have racial connotations, and correct those connotations where possible.
Crenshaw and Bell’s versions of critical race theory did not necessarily say that racial outcomes were per se the result of white supremacy, but the framework biased the assumption towards that outcome.
One thing that most of the proponents and opponents of CRT have in common is that they’ve never read a thing about it, and so you have a topic where the label carries a vastly different connotation depending on who is using it.
And the further you get away from the source material, the worse you get, even current literature on Critical Race theory that extensively quotes the works of Crenshaw and Bell is understood to be a poor reflection of the original theories. Ibram Kendi’s “How To Be An Anti-Racist” and Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” are great examples. These aren’t serious, critically thinking people, they’re dwarves standing in the shadows of giants, trying to make bank.
Which leads to a slew of related problems: The left is calling all kinds of things that aren’t traditional CRT “CRT”, and using CRT as a justification for all kinds of bad behavior. The right sees that bad behavior and pushes back against it, lumping traditional CRT in with current CRT, and a laundry list of racial hot topics. On the conservative side, this is actually very easy to track: We were seeing things come out of academia that were unacceptable, and Christoper Rufo weaponized CRT as a pushback against it. Almost all the chatter today is the result of one man’s work, and that’s kind of amazing.
The New Yorker did a piece on it, and I think they’re pretty fair about it. Read the whole thing, but Rufo said it very clearly.
“’We’ve needed new language for these issues,’ Rufo told me, when I first wrote to him, late in May. ‘ Political correctness is a dated term and, more importantly, doesn’t apply anymore. It’s not that elites are enforcing a set of manners and cultural limits, they’re seeking to reengineer the foundation of human psychology and social institutions through the new politics of race. It’s much more invasive than mere ‘correctness,’ which is a mechanism of social control, but not the heart of what’s happening. The other frames are wrong, too: cancel culture is a vacuous term and doesn’t translate into a political program; woke is a good epithet, but it’s too broad, too terminal, too easily brushed aside. Critical race theory is the perfect villain,’ Rufo wrote.He thought that the phrase was a better description of what conservatives were opposing, but it also seemed like a promising political weapon. ‘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.” ‘Most perfect of all,’ Rufo continued, critical race theory is not ‘an externally applied pejorative.’ Instead, ‘it’s the label the critical race theorists chose themselves.'”
And that leads me to the progressive side: They do call it CRT. They’re backpedalling desperately away from it because Rufo is right, but it’s not hard to find examples of horrible behavior being done in the name of CRT. Progressives are saying that the things we’re seeing aren’t CRT, that there aren’t any examples of CRT in K-12 education, that it’s entirely university level work.
I don’t know whether they’re informed, ignorant, or gaslighting. I mean that, ridiculous as it may seem, any of that is possible.
No, I think it’s pretty clear they are gaslighting, and are convincing themselves as part of the exercise. Read the whole essay. Humble concludes,
“Governments are starting to legislate against CRT, and those laws are a real mixed bag. I’m leery of the government legislating on what can be in a textbook, but if academia isn’t going to regulate itself, and the teachers can’t find ways to teach about racism without resorting to some of the absolute garbage we’re seeing coming out of classes, I don’t see an alternative.”
And watch this podcast. Guest Tony Kinnett, a school administrator in Indiana as well as conservative activist and commentator on education, explains how CRT gets baked into academic curricula as “anti-racism”….