The Fight Over Critical Race Theory

Examples of CRT textbooks intended for K-12 instruction


This fight is going hot and heavy out there the last few days with article after article, twitter, facebook, the whole nine yards into the fight over CRT. Parents have started protesting across the nation about what their children are being taught about racism, adopting the term critical race theory to describe what they don’t like.

Rather than defend the ideas of the new approach to racism, the left is attacking the name the critics have chosen. “That’s not critical race theory”. There is some truth to it, but it is kind of missing the whole point.

It would be like trying to defend the capital attack on 1/6 by saying, but it really was visitors hours at the capital. Maybe you can prove it was visitor hours, but you are missing the whole point of the problem and frankly it just looks dumb.

First the woke left said nobody is teaching critical race theory. But with a deluge of evidence that indeed it has been taught, for years, to K to 12, that sort of died down and it turned to saying it was not what CRT really is.

Amanda Marcotte of Slate magazine, for example, has said the whole thing is a right wing troll, something that Republicans made up to have a culture war fight. I have been following this debate for several years now, and it is a lot more than Republicans and certainly not a “troll”.

It is a way to put a name on a trend in education that has actually being going on a long time and in the last year has gotten more prominent due to the ongoing race debate since George Floyd was killed.

There has been a total redefinition of what racism means, what white supremacy means, what even the word whiteness, which used to refer to how well your laundry detergent worked, by radicals on the left that is seeping deeper and deeper into the culture.

The twenty five words or less upshot of what CRT means to it’s critics is teaching white kids that they are oppressors, and teaching black kids that they are oppressed. Children have come home confused to their parents, as well as parents seeing their children’s classes on zoom meetings and finding some of the material objectionable.

This is hardly a right wing troll, many of the parents are Democrats, and the whole thing started with mostly centrists on line who, like myself, feel this is a really bad way to fight racism. I voted for Biden and think he is overall doing a good job, hardly a right winger.

For the people who want to “explain” that CRT is some obscure legal theory, well, that is hardly addressing the issue. For people who have completely redefined whiteness as some ethereal force permeating reality like the Holy Spirit only evil to complain that some on the other side are redefining what CRT means is pretty rich.

People need a name to describe a whole approach to teaching racism and that one has stuck and I say good enough. The entire approach to teaching racism, to fighting racism, has changed from the Civil Rights approach of MLK who taught we should be evaluated on our character, not skin color. The civil rights approach is a message of equality between people. The “anti racist” philosophy that many find objectionable is all about defining people by skin color, and dividing people into two groups, white= oppressor and black=oppressed.

It’s an absurd formulation—what if you are one of the 10% of Americans who are mixed race, are you oppressing yourself?—and it is illiberal and flies in the face of values that Americans have idealized from the founding. Treating everyone equally, equal treatment under the law, treat people as individuals, etc, is being thrown out in favor of CRT. No wonder parents are upset, and it is not because they are right wing trolls. It’s because children too young to understand these concepts are being made to feel guilty, they are being shamed.

Critical Race Theory may not be a perfect name for it, but what is? A name was needed and a name was found, and I believe it is going to stick. The left would be far better off defending what they are teaching kids and having that debate than trying to just claim “well you got the wrong word”.

Another tack is to try and say that those against CRT are against teaching kids about racism. Not so, schools have been teaching about racism, the civil war, slavery, etc since I was in high school in the early 70’s. Perhaps they should learn more, perhaps it has been inadequate, probably so, but to act as if CRT is the only way to teach it is dishonest. It’s dishonest to say that the parents against CRT don’t want their kids to understand racism. No one has been protesting it until now, it is the WAY it is being  taught, and what is being taught, not THAT it is being taught. Big difference.

It’s an entirely new approach and there is an old approach to racism that has been working practically miraculously. The Democratic Strategist web site has an article by Democrat Andrew Levison that expresses this very well:

“Democrats’ major strategy should be to shift the debate away from critical race theory and over to the life, work and ideas of Martin Luther King.

It is vital to remember that during the period from the 1980’s to Obama’s election, Martin Luther King’s life and ideas were taught in American public schools in an entirely positive way. There was a general acceptance that children should be taught that segregation, racial bigotry and discrimination were wrong.”

As this writer notes, this is what we have had since the 80’s, and this is what the parents want, not to deny racism because only a fool does that, but to continue with what has not only worked very well, but values each person’s life individually without shaming anyone.


Join the conversation...

Comment Policy: Please comment and converse. I am here to talk. Be kind. No insults. Be respectful. Rude comments will be deleted and the user will be blocked.