The Republican Party has an unbelievable talent for fear-mongering and finding the boogeyman in any conceivable scenario. No other group on the planet is so skilled at this that they pull out the same old myths every so often, and people still continue to believe what the GOP tells them. For example, each year, Fox News narrates the story of the “War on Christmas” that never actually happens. And while they never actually have any proof of it, they report on it annually.
And gun sales skyrocket whenever a Democratic President is elected because Fox News hosts convince their base that the new Democratic President will take their guns away. However, no Democratic president who has won an election has run on this platform, and none of them have ever intended to make guns illegal. No recent presidents have even put any common-sense gun laws into place! The last Democratic President to do so was Bill Clinton, and gun crime went down an incredible amount until the law expired under George W. Bush. Nevertheless, the Republican Party and especially their propaganda wing, Fox News, are incredibly persuasive — mostly because they don’t see the ethical issue with stretching the truth to the point of blatantly lying to their constituents and viewers.
The Republican Party has recently found their latest boogeyman — Critical Race Theory — and, as usual, they haven’t felt morally corrupt deceiving their base about what it is and when and where it is learned. And like all of their best deceptions, they’re using both their politicians and their media to sell their version of what they want their voters to believe Critical Race Theory is, accurate or not.
I’m uncertain how Critical Race Theory became the absolute terror that it did to the Republican Party. Initially, it was exclusively studied by academics, then abruptly on every politician’s lips and every primetime news channel’s lineup. Most startling, they were having a discourse about it in an absolutely erroneous context. Republican politicians demanded that our K-12 schools cease teaching Critical Race Theory because it fostered racism and a loathing of America due to its former indiscretions.
And that’s where I paused and groaned. I discovered the new GOP boogeyman, and it didn’t even resemble anything substantial or valid. Because this? This is not a thing. Critical Race Theory is only taught in higher education — usually in graduate school or law schools. It would make no sense to teach it in a K-12 classroom. Students that age simply can’t comprehend the complexities of the theory, which is “is a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States who seek to critically examine the intersection of race and U.S. law and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice. CRT examines social, cultural, and legal issues primarily as they relate to race and racism in the United States.” It also “critiques the focus on individual blame in contemporary discussions of racism and shifts the focus to legal and social systems that perpetuate inequity.” However, critics have used it as “a catchall phrase for nearly any examination of systemic racism.”
I ascertained that Republicans were utilizing the term “Critical Race Theory” to describe teaching about prior American racial atrocities, and were striving for them not to be taught about in K-12 schools. They cited this education as unpatriotic and racist, and a “search of the Nexis database for critical race theory showed that the term appeared in U.S. newspapers 1,361 times between January 2000 and January 1, 2021, but increased to 6,000 appearances between that date and the beginning of July 2021.”
Since July 21, 10 states have introduced bills to block the teaching of Critical Race Theory, and 26 more are in the process of doing so. An organization in Nevada is even proposing that teachers wear body cameras to ensure they don’t teach CRT. In addition, Arizona teachers can be fined $5,000 if they make children feel guilty for being white. (Which CRT is not supposed to do in any way whatsoever!)
However, “in June 2021, the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and PEN America released a joint statement stating their opposition to such legislation, and by August 2021, 167 professional organizations had signed onto the statement.”
While only ⅓ of voters know what Critical Race Theory is, most know it has an adverse impression. But in all honesty, if we don’t learn from our past, we can’t have experience for our future. If we don’t know our past, we can’t change it in the future. Ibram X. Kendi, the famous academic author of How to Be an Antiracist, “finds the idea that classroom explorations of racism are divisive to be ironic. ‘If we’re not teaching students that the reason why racial inequity exists is because of racism, then what are they going to conclude as to why racial inequity exists? They’re going to conclude that it must be because those Black people must have less because they are less,’ Kendi says. ‘That’s the only other conclusion. Not teaching our kids about racism is actually divisive.'”
This argument has turned into something not about CRT at all, but more about conservatives not wanting to teach about racism and slavery in schools. In Texas alone, new laws have stripped out the vast majority of mentions of women’s, BIPOC, Native American history, women’s suffrage, and multiple civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglass. Teachers are also no longer required to teach “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.” Again, teachers no longer have to emphasize that the Ku Klux Klan is wrong. However, from experience, Texas students learn about Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders, traitors to America, as if they are heroes to be emulated, and that has not been cut from the curriculum.
As an English major, I wonder if (or, more likely, when) Republicans will cut Huckleberry Finn, an important piece of literature by Mark Twain from the curriculum, simply because it uses the “n-word” over 200 times. They’ve already rewritten it where it uses the word “slave” instead, a travesty for the great work that was released in 1884, when using the “n-word” was authentic. It isn’t as if the book came out in 1995. As a lover of great literature, Republicans banning this book is my second-greatest fear. (My first-greatest fear is them banning 1984 by George Orwell, as their party is so similar to the party written about in that book.)
Do I believe teachers should explain actual Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools? Absolutely not. That belongs in higher education where the students can understand the ramifications of race in society. But I do think K-12 students should learn fundamental American history, and I’m perplexed as to why Republicans don’t want that unless they actually do want to relive past history. Because learning about America’s racist history doesn’t make us feel guilty for being white. It doesn’t make us hate America. It only makes us knowledgable about where we grew up. Imagine if Germany didn’t teach about the Holocaust!
Republicans are attempting to whitewashing history and by forcing it, doing current and future students a significant disservice.