Understanding the Republican pushback against the CRT

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A specter haunts American conservatives, the specter of Critical Race Theory (CRT).

This theory has become the primary target of Republicans seeking to combat a perceived invasion of radical left propaganda into the mainstream, including in our own schools. But where does it come from?

According to Google Trends, the topic was rarely searched until September 2020, when it saw a slight spike in interest. It was around this time that former President Donald Trump issued an executive order deemed a ban on teaching CRT. The fact that such a thing is in the spotlight so quickly suggests a less than natural trend.

That’s because the sudden controversy was deliberately engineered by activist Christopher Rufo, a conservative who laid out his plans on Twitter to create a new CRT buzzword.

Rufo posted a series of tweets explaining the plan create a word that Americans would instantly associate with things they didn’t like.

Rufo made the tweets on March 15 of this year, which was followed by a storm of controversy led by parents and experts.

22 states experienced anti-CRT protests, with 6% having a militia presence. Politicians in various states have also attempted to ban CRT.

8 states have successfully banned it, 20 more have similar bills under consideration. The bills in question use anti-discrimination language, but ultimately describe the teaching of concepts such as white privilege as discriminatory.

But what is CRT? Rather than the bane of deception that some have claimed to be, this is an academic perspective from 1970s analysts seeking to understand the ways in which racism affected American legal policy, one example being the role of government in the practice of redlining.

Redlining is the practice of primarily labeling black neighborhoods as too risky financially to offer loans, which prevents blacks from owning homeowners.

The main gripe the Conservatives seem to have against the CRT is the emphasis on how theory holds racism underlies all of society.

This belief is seen as an accusation that whites are inherently racist, although the theory itself is not concerned with the personal beliefs of individuals, but rather with the results of decisions on a personal and social level.

Some educators worry that teaching history about policies like the Jim Crow laws may not be allowed under those laws. Ambiguity may be the point, seeking to force self-censorship among educators and deter discussion of less than flattering topics.

The last strategy employed by anti-CRT activists was the targeting of school board elections. 50 recall elections have been proposed by Republican activists, some aimed at dismissing entire school boards.

A leading group founded to advance this movement has been No Left Turn in Education, started by a mother responding to lessons on the concepts of racism and privilege. The group quickly rose to prominence after the movement’s founder was interviewed by Tucker Carlson.

This led to protests at school board meetings, some of which turned into threats of violence from protesters.

Another strategy has been to request documents on all aspects of the school curriculum, as a concern raised by protesters is the lack of transparency from educators. Such requests can take up to hundreds of hours to process and some speculate that the goal is not transparency but to bury educators under a load of paperwork.

It’s unclear whether the movement will be successful or not, but what is certain is that the anti-racially conscious education movement is only gaining momentum.

The movement has employed a multitude of strategies and will likely continue to do so in an attempt to tackle any vaguely socially conscious material, regardless of the facts censored to achieve that goal.

The movement also underlies a darker stream of anti-intellectual sentiments and the ways in which the discussion is attacked on issues that touch the political right. One can only imagine what will be attacked next in the name of the fight against ideological indoctrination.



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