Flashing an “ANTI-WHITE MANIA” graphic on screen, Fox host Tucker Carlson declared on June 24 that something must be done “to save this country” from the scourge of critical race theory “before we become Rwanda.”
Rightwing politicians and media outlets are attacking a strawman version of antiracism. A disappointing number of liberals and leftists have bought into it
In Ray Bradbury’s 1953 book Farenheit 451, Captain Beatty states that, ‘A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it, take the shot from the weapon. Breach one man’s mind. Who knows what might be the target of the well-read man’. In this dystopian novel, Beatty is justifying the burning of books. While Farenheit is a novel, there is a long history of book burning going back centuries. The burning of books is intended to control knowledge, to prevent free thinking, to make sure everyone thinks the same and an affront to liberalism. Book burning is a political issue, and similarly, the 21st century equivalent is Internet Censorship, which, in a political context, has became a hot topic since the propagation of mistruths became so visible during the Trump Presidency.
The latest “woke” boogeyman riling up conservatives is critical race theory, a scholarly framework that seeks to understand the role race and racism have played in all aspects of society. Of course, ask a Fox News host, and he’ll tell you with a straight face that CRT is a Marxist ideology that teaches white children that they’re inherently inferior—and if that’s not enough, they should feel bad about their skin color. According to extensive research by Media Matters for America, Fox News has mentioned critical race theory more than 1,300 times in the last three-and-a-half months alone.
Moving away from the debate about what is or isn’t “critical race theory” and instead focusing on what lawmakers are actually trying to do — replace factual information with fake history — helps recenter the debate on what’s really going on. After all, the only reason Republicans and right-wing pundits lie about what is and isn’t in the public school curriculum is because they know they can’t win the debate by being honest. The truth terrifies them, which is why they go to such lengths to conceal it both in public debate and in our public schools.
So here’s the great irony: we’ve gone from a theory that considers racism inseparable from laws and institutions in American life to the actual enactment of rules and laws that forbid the teaching or consideration of racism as inseparable from American life. Put another way: if there ever was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that critical race theory is reality–that American institutions such as our legislatures and courts are sick to the core with racism–Trumpist Republicans are providing us that proof in spades. They are elevating critical race theory from theory to fact, and from controversy to necessity.
The absurdity of the Republican Party’s culture wars has reached new heights. A slew of GOP-led state legislatures are enacting new laws that ban teaching “critical race theory” an academic framework that has become the latest conservative boogeyman. Do you want to learn about racism, discrimination and privilege? Well, Republicans are trying to make it really hard to do so with a slew of bills designed to muzzle educators. In Texas, House Bill 3979 would limit how teachers talk about current events and historic racism in their classrooms. It also bans schools from teaching the 1619 Project, a New York Times endeavor which investigates US history starting with the year the first slaves were brought to what would become the United States. After some political maneuvering, the controversial bill appears to be headed to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
Right-wing media and Republican politicians have been railing against the teaching of critical race theory — a broad academic discipline that seeks to explore how the history of racism in America still has an effect on modern life and society — and attempting to depict this simple concept as an imminent threat to the country, and an insidious effort to “warp the minds of American children” and make them feel guilty for “being born white.”