Politics Critical race theory is a lucrative obsession for Republicans because the party is 'offended by the political focus on racism and racial justice'
The Conservative Disinformation Campaign Against Nikole Hannah-Jones
Only by identifying these campaigns as disinformation can we counter them, two UNC professors write.But then her tenure case reached the university’s conservative majority Board of Trustees, where it apparently lingered without action in a subcommittee. In the end, the board took the unprecedented step of refusing to hear the case at all. When the news became public, there was a large public outcry. Hannah-Jones’ legal team gave the Board of Trustees until Friday to reconsider tenure.
- Critical Race Theory has become one of the most animating issues for Republicans nationwide.
- The academic practice is front and center on Fox News and in GOP fundraising efforts.
- Much of the backlash is not new, but has worsened "especially since the George Floyd murder."
Republicans across the US are waging an escalating culture war against critical race theory, an academic concept or framework centered on systemic racism and its effects across American society.
What is critical race theory?
Critical race theorists look at how America's history of racism and discrimination continues to impact the country today.
Critical race theory banned in Florida schools
Florida has become the latest state to ban critical race theory, continuing the growing charge by Republican lawmakers against schools teaching about systemic racism. © Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union/USA Today Network After hours of debate and public comment Thursday, the Florida State Board of Education unanimously approved the amendment banning critical race theory. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who appointed much of the board, spoke ahead of the meeting, saying critical race theory would teach children "the country is rotten and that our institutions are illegitimate.
"Critical race theory is a practice. It's an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what's in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it," said Kimberlé Crenshaw,and a law professor at UCLA and Columbia University, told CNN last year.
Why is the GOP turning it into an issue?
The GOP campaign against critical race theory, which distorts the concept, is linked to a broader effort to stifle or invalidate conversations on the pervasiveness of racism in the US in relation to its history, experts say. Republicans have launched similar attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement and the 1619 project in that regard.
Critical Race Theory Is Banned in These States
Florida, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma have all banned the academic theory, which examines the ways race and racism intersect with politics, culture and the law. © Joe Raedle/Getty Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives away a pen after holding a bill signing ceremony at the Florida National Guard Robert A. Ballard Armory on June 7, 2021 in Miami, Florida. DeSantis moved on Thursday to ban critical race theory from being taught in Florida schools. The Florida State Board of Education unanimously approved an amendment to its rules on Thursday, after hours of debate and public comment.
"The base of the Republican Party is offended by the political focus on racism and racial justice that has been apparent for several years now, but especially since the George Floyd murder," Andrew Hartman, a history professor at Illinois State University and author of "told Insider. "So, GOP politicians and conservative media obsess over the issue to gin up outrage that might translate into future votes, but in the meantime definitely translates into donations and ratings."
Jelani Cobb, a staff writer at the New Yorker, historian, and professor at Columbia Journalism School, in a recent tweetthat the "attacks on critical race theory are clearly an attempt to discredit the literature millions of people sought out last year to understand how George Floyd wound up dead on a street corner."
"The goal is to leave the next dead Black person inexplicable by history," Cobb added.
Critical race theory: Diverse group of mothers from across the country speak out
"Critical race theory," the phrase that has captured headlines and driven news cycles, was once relegated to the halls of academia. But as CRT and its associated ideas have spread to school districts, so went the demographics of people debating its implications. Ideas related to CRT have featured prominently in controversial materials that pose what mothers see as a very real threat to their children's futures. Despite the controversy being painted by some as manufactured, the battle over CRT has thrust a long list of concerned parents into the public square.
Republicans in a number of states have pushed to ban critical race theory from schools, misleadingly contending that the concept
, describing the practice as a "false history" that would "denigrate the Founding Fathers."
In the process, they've taken an otherwise niche academic theory and legal practice to catapult it into the center of the contentious, ongoing debate on racism in the US.
"I am honestly confused why Critical Race Theory has become the specific target, except to say that conservatives have a LONG history of educational activism against secular and liberal trends in schools, and CRT checks a lot of boxes in that regard," Hartman said. "It is an academic theory that emerged from elite universities (Harvard Law in particular). It seemingly indoctrinates students with the idea that racism is endemic and institutional, which flies in the face of conservative colorblindness."
How is CRT being treated by the right-wing ecosystem?
The GOP obsession with critical race theory was in many ways sparked by former President Donald Trump, who has a. Last September, ordering the Office of Management and Budget to stop funding training on critical race theory for federal employees. The memo referred to the theory as a "propaganda effort" that teaches or suggests that the US "is an inherently racist or evil country."
'Held hostage': How critical race theory moved from Fox News to school boards
In towns nationwide, well-connected conservative activists, and Fox News, have ramped up the tension in fights over race and equity in schools.Jeff Porter, superintendent of a wealthy suburban school district in Maine, had no idea that his community was about to become part of a national battle when in the summer of 2020 a father began accusing the district of trying to “indoctrinate” his children by teaching critical race theory.
"The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the Federal government," the memo said.
Similarly, Trump also railed against The New York Times' "1619 Project,"that it "rewrites American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom."
Although critical race theory is not a staple of K-12 curricula - mostly applying to colleges and universities - local squabbles and highly specific campus incidents have been amplified by Fox News and other outlets and used by politicians for fundraising pushes.
and appearing on Fox News to talk about it, where he can then build his profile with an audience of millions.
As Fox's top-viewed opinion hostsin the way they handled Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, critical race theory serves as a convenient programming staple. Coverage of critical race theory dominates Fox News coverage across daytime, primetime, and online.
"Often compared by critics to actual racism, CRT is a school of thought that generally focuses on how power structures and institutions impact racial minorities," an explainer post reads on the.
Fox News hosts often depict things like the "1619 Project" as having a vast influence, or white children being explicitly told they're racist when the segments are usuallyor .
Once one of these local spats reaches Fox News, it effectively becomes mainstreamed and a de facto national issue that politicians in turn discuss.
Critical race theory becomes a top issue in Virginia governor's race .
The power of critical race theory as a political issue will be put to the test in the Virginia governor's race this year, as Republican Glenn Youngkin promises to eradicate the racially based education curriculum, while Democrat Terry McAuliffe alleged the concerns about it are a GOP "conspiracy."GLENN YOUNGKIN SAYS NO TO CRITICAL RACE THEORY AND LIBERAL PUBLIC SCHOOL CURRICULUM