This recent article by Alex Shephard in The New Republic is a must read about the latest and racist bogeyman in the ring wing’s latest culture war:
If you were to turn on Fox News or right-wing radio right now, you might not find any news at all about President Joe Biden’s first foreign trip: Conservative media has all but stopped covering any policy concerns, whether they be foreign or domestic. But you would hear hours of content about “critical race theory,” the hitherto relatively obscure academic concept that has, over the past few months, emerged as the right’s hot bogeyman of the summer.
Critical race theory has been studied for decades, but it received relatively little attention in the wider cultural sphere until the past year, when conservatives adopted it as a catch-all term to demonize and discredit the anti-racist, anti–police brutality movements that sprang up in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Its academic context, which is chiefly concerned with the endemic racism in American institutions and power structures, is not actually essential to the current political discourse being promulgated by Republican politicians, conservative institutions, and the right-wing media. The conservative movement is simply wielding the academic jargon as a means to gin up a moral panic.
It’s working. A Media Matters study in May found that Fox News had mentioned “critical race theory” 552 times in the previous 11 months. CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported last week that Fox had shoehorned it into its coverage 125 times in only five days. In Texas, Florida, and a grab bag of other Republican-led states, conservative lawmakers have moved to ban it from being taught in schools.
The “critical race theory” being talked up on Fox and right-wing radio has little in common with the academic discipline that emerged from the Ivy League 40 years ago.
It is, instead, a mash-up of a clutch of right-wing tropes. Primarily, however, it is a reaction to students being taught the actual history of America—warts and all—instead of a puffed-up faux-patriotic rendition that passes for the truth in the works of non-historians such as Dinesh D’Souza and Bill O’Reilly. Among these ideamongers, there is a deep insecurity in acknowledging the racism of American institutions or the country’s often brutal past; the attacks on critical race theory are essentially an attempt to sweep the less-than-rosy stuff under the rug, in favor of glossy American exceptionalism.
There’s some classic conservative paternalism, color-blindness, and boot-strapping knit up in conservatives’ fear that students might learn about racism. “Minority students are going to suffer the most from this,” one teacher said at a recent anti-CRT rally. “When you teach students that the system is against them, they have no motivation to learn. They are not going to try to work. They are not going to try to improve themselves.” The bizarre logic that undergirds this premise is that students of color had never heard of racism before, nor used the acquisition of knowledge as a tool in overcoming it.
Read more here.