Politics Critical race theory becomes focus of midterms
Will the battle over "critical race theory" be a winning issue for the right? It already is
As used by Republicans, "critical race theory" is an empty term used to channel racist urges. That's why it works People hold up signs during a rally against "critical race theory" (CRT) being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia on June 12, 2021.The term "critical race theory" defines a strand of thought that appeared in American law schools in the late 1970s and which looks at racism as a system, enabled by laws and institutions, rather than at the level of individual prejudices.
Critical race theory increasingly looks like it will play a major role in the 2022 midterms, as Republicans ramp-up efforts on culture issues in their pursuit of winning back control of both the House and Senate.
Arguments about critical race theory, a decades-old academic theory that puts the nation's history of institutional racism at the center of teaching history, are regularly featured on conservative media and are increasingly being seen in school debates around the country.
Black lawmakers in Congress are expressing disappointment with the emerging battlelines, arguing it is a sign of the pushback to progress on issues of racial justice.
‘Number one cultural issue’: GOP turns to critical race theory in push to win back suburbs
WASHINGTON – Republicans are leaning into the burgeoning battle over critical race theory, betting that the hot-button issue will not only energize their base, but help bring back some of the swing suburban voters they lost in the last election. While the party has focused to varying degrees on several contentious cultural issues in the six months since President Joe Biden took office — ranging from coronavirus pandemic restrictions to transgender youth in sports to migrants at the border — top Republican officials and operatives say critical race theory is among the topics that are likely to have a longer shelf life heading into the 2022 midterm elections.
"Unfortunately, as the country makes progress and deal with truth telling, there are a group of Americans that tries to halt that progress and deals with falsehoods, and tries to stop the growth that the country has made, particularly in relationship to African Americans," Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, told The Hill.
Many Republicans, however, see an issue that could drive conservatives to the polls in 2022 when turnout is generally lower. Democrats are defending narrow majorities in both the House and Senate. Historically, the president's party has lost seats in his initial midterm election.
"This is an issue that can really help Republicans win back those suburbs that they might have lost in the 2020 election," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told The Hill.
PTA Official Resigns After Saying 'Let Them Die' About Parents Against Critical Race Theory
Michelle Leete was seen in a widely shared video recorded Thursday in which she told "STOP CRT" counter-protesters that any parent in the district who opposes critical race theory is "anti-diversity" and "anti-children."Michelle Leete was seen in a widely shared video recorded Thursday in which she told "STOP CRT" counter-protesters that any parent in the district who opposes critical race theory is "anti-diversity" and "anti-children." Leete went on to say that all who oppose their support should just "die.
CRT is something that "could contribute to a red wave in 2022, particularly as it relates to the House of Representatives," O'Connell added.
CRT asserts that the U.S. was built upon racist structures such as slavery and Jim Crow, and that remnants of these systems are present today and need to be dismantled because they continue to drive inequality and inequity across the country.
In this way, CRT states, racism is systemic and therefore ingrained in everyday life instead of being an abnormal personal affliction.
The theory was established in the 70s and 80s but isn't widely taught outside of college and universities, but rhetoric used by conservatives in Congress and in state legislatures - that people's children are being "indoctrinated" by CRT - has been effective in catalysing a groundswell of indignation.
Some view the country's recent reckoning with race as a step forward when it comes to racial justice. Efforts were energized by the nation-wide reckoning with race that began last year with outrage over the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
A Better Way to Fight Critical Race Theory
Banning CRT from schools will actually prevent students from fully understanding its weaknesses.Let me be clear about one thing up front: I think critical race theory is nonsense. Most of its proponents insist that all black people are perpetually oppressed victims, and all white people are our oppressors. This does nothing to move the black community, or our country, forward.
The dissent surrounding CRT in some ways draws comparisons to the national discourse around "Defund the Police," a progressive messaging tool that Democrats have struggled to keep on the rails, resulting in the phrase becoming a key flash point last November.
And like "Defund the Police," CRT could be a sticking point in congressional House races that are expected to be tight.
One of these races is in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, where Black Caucus member Lucy McBath (D) is seeking a third term.
The seat has been occupied in the past by prominent Republicans, including former Speaker Newt Gringich and former Sen. Johnny Isakson, and is one that the GOP would love to flip.
"We look at all of that," Meeks said when asked if CRT messaging could potentially receive more airtime in certain races, like McBath's.
The Black Caucus, which turned 50 this year, is enjoying increased influence in part thanks to record membership and the fact that two caucus alums now reside within President Biden's sphere of influence - Vice President Harris and senior White House advisor Cedric Richmond.
Rules for radical chic
Today's CRT militants, including teachers unions, owe their tactics to Saul Alinsky.Racial cooperation and colorblindness have been replaced in many schools by an all-encompassing valuation of students’ lives and experiences based solely on the color of their skin. Alinsky would be proud. Simply attack opponents personally and professionally, he advised. Intimidate them, disorient them.
Moreover, the White House has been steadfast in its commitment to advance equity throughout the federal government and to stamp out systemic racism. Much of what the CBC has made top priority such as voting rights also sits high on President Biden's agenda.
McBath is currently the lone featured candidate on the CBC PAC's website.
Meeks lauded McBath's work in Congress, citing her as one of the CBC members who represents a district that doesn't have a significant overrepresentation of Black residents.
The district, which encompasses a good portion of the northern Atlanta metropolitan area, is nearly 70 percent white, and just over 13 percent Black. However, Black Georgians make up nearly a third of the state's population, according to the Census Bureau.
When asked how the political wing of the caucus will look to combat messaging around CRT, Meeks underscored the importance of speaking truth to power in regards to how the topic of race is broached.
"When you don't tell the truth or let the truth be told, then falsehood generally prevails," Meeks said.
"They are - they being some of the folks who want to hold this country back - are being exposed. And, that's the battle line that's being drawn and we've got to make sure that we prevent it from happening."
Democratic operative Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines told The Hill Democrats in situations similar to McBath's don't have to shy away from conversations surrounding CRT, but that it shouldn't be part of a stump speech.
"I don't see the need for any member of Congress to address that in their platform," Frazier-Gaines told The Hill.
"If they're asked by media, I personally think that they should divert that energy and attention to superintendents of education for their state, and school board members. That is the easiest way for them to stay out of fire."
NASA should beware of Critical Race Theory .
Some fear that identity politics might threaten NASA's primary mission to uncover scientific secrets, return Americans to the moon and eventually get them to Mars. Yes, the next moonwalkers will be a woman and a person of color. But plenty of spots will remain for people of all races and genders.The worst thing that NASA could do is to go off mission and cause needless conflict by upending Martin Luther King's plea to judge people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.