Evelyn Hochstein via Reuters
Question: What is the most important topic in the race for leadership here in Virginia? Answer: “Go back to the basics of teaching, and do not teach children the critical theory of race.” Question: What is a critical theory of race? Answer: “I will not go into details because I do not understand much, but from what I know little is something that does not interest me” (answer repeated, with small differences, twice). This exchange between a Virginia voter and comedy duo The Good Liars can be seen as a compendium of the new madness running through American politics, now at the height of polarization. “It shows exactly how stupid our policies have become,” It’s the bitter verdict of Chris CelisaPolitical commentator for CNN.
This guy says critical race theory is the most important issue in the Virginia election. He also says he has no idea what the critical race theory is. pic.twitter.com/lBrGy4lRBG
– The Good Liars (@TheGoodLiars) November 1, 2021
Elections Tuesday in Virginia They have shone the national and international spotlight on an issue – and its distortion – that has been the subject of debate in some countries for months. Republican Glenn Yongkin won by making it a pillar of his campaign, a success destined to gain weight in the long run until the midterm elections. Yongkin did everything he could to present the vote as a referendum on a fundamental question: Do you want your children to learn the critical theory of race? If the answer is no, vote for me.”
The question is based, however, on at least two false assumptions: 1) Few – even among the champions of No-CRT (from Critical Race Theory in English) – know what Critical Race Theory really is; 2) It is not true that it is taught in schools, unless a very broad interpretation of it is given by including any discourse about racism and rights. And that’s exactly what makes the new culture clash dividing America so interesting: it’s the result of a combination of polarization, simplification, manipulation, and ignorance. A mixture so powerful in vulgar society that it is seen as the backbone of political competition.
The choice not to explain what a critical theory of race is, thus far, is not accidental: ironically, its origins and content have nothing to do with the current debate. The reason is that CRT, until recently, has been a topic for academics. It is actually a legal theory born in law schools in the 1970s and 1980s to explain the persistence of racial inequality after the Civil Rights Act was approved in 1964. The theory, developed by former Harvard law professor Derek Bell and other scholars, examines the ways in which racism has been incorporated into the law American and other modern institutions, while maintaining the advantage of whites over ethnic minorities. La Brookings Institution It gives the following definition:
“The CRT does not attribute racism to whites as individuals or even to entire groups of people. Simply put, critical race theory states that American social institutions (such as the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, health care system) are conditioned by the racism embedded in Laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that produce differentiated outcomes according to race.”
A good example of this is when, in the 1930s, government officials drew boundaries around areas considered low financial risk, often because of the racial makeup of the population. Banks then refused to provide mortgages to blacks in those areas.
For more than forty years—until it was confined to academic publications and round tables—critical race theory bothered no one: most of it ignored its existence; Whoever was interested in it for various reasons took it for what it was, that is, a theory created to observe society and give it a possible explanation. In the past year and a half, in the wake of the protests over the killing of George Floyd and the global resonance of the Black Lives Matter movement, the situation has changed radically. Suddenly, concepts like “systemic racism” and “racial justice” became mainstream, even fashionable, in a team competition to see who was most determined to purge the system of its racist legacy. While this momentum has certainly changed the scope of the debate on racism, and increased its ability to influence society, it has also produced simplifications and deviations such as the so-called culture of abolition—the assumption of ‘wiping out’ traces of colonial history with a sponge. Racial discrimination – or a movement to defund the police, “Defund the Police” – from them Rejection of the referendum in Minneapolis It seems to be the natural conclusion.
From this point of view, a “discovery” – on the right – of critical theory of race appears as a reaction to the protests and battles of the past year over black lives: the more the progressive left raises its voice and fists against the “systematic system.” Racism” of American society, as well as the right embodied by Donald Trump, in search of its weapon of counterattack. A necessary weapon – in the eyes of conservative strategists – given the demographic changes taking place in American society: in twenty years, according to current trends, Whites will become a minority.
There is one man, in particular, who has credited getting CRT out of the academy for taking it to the streets: it’s conservative activist Christopher Ruffo. Last year, while touring several talk shows, he began using the term “critical theory of race” to criticize the introduction of anti-racist units in some educational fields, incorrectly claiming that they endorsed “apartheid” and “collective guilt”. In September 2020, he contributed to writing a circular issued by former President Trump banning federal agencies from training on issues related to “critical theory of race” and “white privilege,” a ban later lifted by President Biden.
Rufus spoke to New Yorker From the specific usage he made of this expression, he notes that “abolition of culture” is an absurd term and does not translate into a political programme. “Wake up” (which denotes a special interest in racial rights and issues, in keeping with the times) is a good nickname, but it’s too general, too extreme, and easily overlooked. The “critical race theory” is the ideal “enemy”. He also tweeted: “The goal is for the public to read some craziness in the papers and immediately think of the ‘critical theory of race’.”
“Abolition of culture” is an empty term and does not translate into a political programme. “Wake up” is a good adjective, but it’s too broad, too peripheral, and easily overlooked. Activist Christopher Ruffo said the “critical race theory” is the perfect villain. https://t.co/jPZqnkf6CE
– The NewYorker June 18, 2021
His vision became a reality. While CRT is not part of the high school curriculum, many states—including Oklahoma, Texas, Idaho, Iowa, and Tennessee—have passed laws intended to limit classroom discussion of what they call “critical race theory.” Officials in Republican-controlled states across the country are proposing several laws to prevent teachers from emphasizing the role of systemic racism. According to Education Week research, at least 15 states have considered legislation aimed at curbing the way teachers talk about race.
And so we got to the short circuit of the dialogue that the “good liars” talked about. Patti Hidalgo Menders, president of the Republican Women’s Club of Loudoun County, Virginia, put it this way, speaking to guardian Last week: They want to divide our children into victims and oppressors. What should the child do with this? Race, plot, children, fear – words in the wind are already formed into the following slogan: Hands off the minds of our children!
Evelyn Hochstein via Reuters