Critical race theory is a lucrative obsession for Republicans because the party is ‘offended by the political focus on racism and racial justice’

Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bill signing
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

  • 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.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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 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 KimberlĂ© Crenshaw, a founding critical race theorist 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.

“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 “A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars,” 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 tweet said that 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.

Republicans in a number of states have pushed to ban critical race theory from schools, misleadingly contending that the concept teaches kids to hate the US and each other.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently convinced the state board of education to ban it, 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 well-documented history of racism. Last September, Trump sent out a memo 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.”

“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,” stating 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.

DeSantis is fundraising off of it 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 hosts struggle to land on a coherent depiction of President Joe Biden in 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 website.

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 usually based solely on local news reports or aggrieved parents.

Once one of these local spats reaches Fox News, it effectively becomes mainstreamed and a de facto national issue that politicians in turn discuss.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Fox News contributor praises America for ‘relatively short’ history of slavery

George Murdoch argued on Fox News that American slavery existed for a 'relatively short' amount of time.
George Murdoch argued on Fox News that American slavery existed for a ‘relatively short amount of time.’

  • George “Tyrus” Murdoch downplayed America’s history of slavery while discussing critical race theory.
  • Murdoch argued that America was able to “to get slavery out of the way” in a “relatively short amount of time.”
  • It’s unclear what Murdoch’s argument about the length of slavery in America has to do with anti-racist education.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Fox News personality George Murdoch downplayed America’s history of slavery while arguing during a Fox News appearance on Wednesday that critical race theory shouldn’t be taught in elementary and high schools.

“As far as teaching our multicultural classrooms about race in this country, I think we need to start where we’re at and acknowledge our history. But when you look at slavery in this country opposed to the world, 400 years is still too long, but at the same time other countries dealt with it for thousands of years, where America was able to get it — in a relatively short amount of time in terms of our history — to get slavery out of the way.” ” he said on the daytime news show “America’s Newsroom.”

It took the US almost 100 years after signing the Declaration of Independence — and a civil war — to abolish slavery. Slaves were first brought to Virginia in 1619 and made up a significant portion of the US population for about 250 years.

Critical race theory emerged out of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 70s and holds that many American laws and systems are structurally racist and that most people of color suffer from racism on a daily basis.

It’s unclear what Murdoch’s argument about the length of slavery in America has to do with the anti-racist theory.

Republicans have aggressively campaigned against the Biden administration efforts to encourage schools to teach students about the history of slavery and its impacts, including systemic racism.

Biden hasn’t proposed any changes to school curricula, but conservative state legislatures across the country have moved to ban critical race theory, which they call a “Marxist doctrine,” from being taught in public schools. They’ve also opposed The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project being taught to students.

Former President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have leaned into the campaign, attempting to fuel anger among the party’s base. Fox has heavily covered the topic, often celebrating the backlash against anti-racist teachings. A Fox spokesperson didn’t immediately provide comment to Insider.

Murdoch, who was formerly a professional wrestler known as “Tyrus,” was accused of sexual harassment in 2019 by his former Fox co-host Britt McHenry. McHenry, then a Fox Nation host, sued Fox News for retaliation after she accused Murdoch of sexual misconduct. After she brought her allegations to Fox executives, Murdoch was promoted to host his own show on the network’s streaming service.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is urging schools to stop teaching critical race theory, calling it a ‘dangerous ideology’

Brian Kemp
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp listens to a question during a news conference at the State Capitol on Saturday, April 3, 2021, in Atlanta, about Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta over the league’s objection to a new Georgia voting law.

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp wants schools to stop teaching critical race theory in classrooms.
  • “This divisive, anti-American agenda has no place in Georgia classrooms,” Kemp said.
  • His remarks are the latest in a push by Republican lawmakers to curtail the teaching of critical race theory.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday called for all public schools in the state to stop teaching critical race theory.

In a letter dated May 20, Kemp urged the Georgia State Board of Education “to take immediate steps to ensure that Critical Race Theory and its dangerous ideology do not take root in our state standards or curriculum.”

“This divisive, anti-American agenda has no place in Georgia classrooms,” Kemp tweeted.

He said in his letter that he wants Georgia schools to “focus on our goal of providing the highest quality education to every child in Georgia, without partisan bias or political influence.”

“Education in Georgia should reflect our fundamental values as a state and nation – freedom, equality, and the God-given potential of each individual,” he continued in his letter.

Kemp’s letter marks the latest push by Republican lawmakers to limit the study of critical race theory in the country.

Last month, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to encourage public schools to strip from their curricula projects that he claims promote “revisionism” of US history.

In a letter dated April 29, McConnell and 38 other Senate Republicans specifically referenced the New York Times’ 1619 Project, created to mark the date enslaved Africans were forcibly brought to American soil. The project’s goal to is place “the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

McConnell said the 1619 Project and other programs strive to “reorient” US history “away from their intended purposes toward a politicized and divisive agenda.”

“Actual, trained, credentialed historians with diverse political views have debunked the project’s many factual and historical errors, such as the bizarre and inaccurate notion that preserving slavery was a primary driver of the American Revolution,” the letter says.

Some states have begun to implement the project in their curriculum. But the Education Department has not directly told public schools to use or incorporate it. Usually, school curriculum falls at the discretion of state governments rather than any federal agency.

But under President Joe Biden, the Education Department has floated the possibility of offering grants to schools that include the 1619 Project and similar materials in their learning plans.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt ousted from Tulsa Race Massacre commission

kevin stitt
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt.

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday was ousted from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission.
  • Stitt said his role on the commission was “purely ceremonial” and criticized the move.
  • The governor’s removal comes on the heels of his support of legislation banning “critical race theory” in public schools.
  • Sign up for our daily newsletter 10 Things in Politics You Need to Know Today.

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma on Friday was ousted from a commission created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, days after he signed legislation that would ban the teaching of some race and racism concepts in public schools.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, in a statement released on Friday, said that its members met and decided “to part ways” with Stitt, who was elected as governor in 2018. The statement did not cite a specific reason for the decision.

“While the Commission is disheartened to part ways with Governor Stitt, we are thankful for the things accomplished together,” the statement read. “The Commission remains focused on lifting up the story of Black Wall Street and commemorating the Centennial.”

It added: “No elected officials, nor representatives of elected officials, were involved in this decision.”

Stitt’s office said that the governor learned of his ouster only after the statement was released and described his membership on the commission as “purely ceremonial.”

“It is disappointing to see an organization of such importance spend so much effort to sow division based on falsehoods and political rhetoric two weeks before the centennial and a month before the commission is scheduled to sunset,” read a statement from the governor’s office. “The governor and first lady will continue to support the revitalization of the Greenwood District, honest conversations about racial reconciliation and pathways of hope in Oklahoma.”

The division with Stitt came from his support of HB 1775, which is designed to prevent the teaching of “critical race theory,” which seeks to examine the legacy of systemic racism in the US.

Conservatives have argued that the subject matter would teach white children that they are inherently racist.

Read more: The House’s history-making top security official talked with Insider about his plan to reopen the Capitol and ensure it will ‘never, ever be breached again’ after the January 6 attack

The law bans any instruction of the concept that “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race,” and stipulates that college students cannot be required to engage in “mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling.”

Stitt has defended his decision to sign the bill.

“Now more than ever, we need policies that bring us together, not rip us apart,” he said earlier this month. “Not one cent of taxpayer money should be used to define and divide young Oklahomans about their race or sex.”

Phil Armstrong, the project director of the Centennial Commission, in a separate letter blasted Stitt for his support of the legislation.

“HB 1775 chills the ability of educators to teach students, of any age, and will only serve to intimidate educators who seek to reveal and process our hidden history,” he wrote. “You know that. You seemingly disregarded and dismissed this chorus of voices aligned against HB 1775.”

He added: “How does this law bring us together and codify the concepts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? How do you reconcile your membership on the Centennial Commission with your support of a law that is fundamentally contrary to the mission of reconciliation and restoration?”

The Centennial Commission was formed in 2015 to teach citizens about the 1921 massacre, in which white mobs descended on the prosperous Greenwood district in Tulsa known as “Black Wall Street,” killing as many as 300 Black citizens and wounding over 800 people.

Roughly 35 square blocks of Black-owned businesses and homes were destroyed, according to the Tulsa World.

During the massacre, members of the Oklahoma National Guard arrested Black victims, leaving white looters to pillage the neighborhood that once boasted one of the highest concentrations of Black wealth in the country.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A new Oklahoma law bans K-12 schools from teaching topics that cause ‘guilt’ because of race or sex

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt
Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Oklahoma passed a law banning K-12 schools from teaching lessons that would cause “guilt” because of a person’s race or sex.
  • The law also bans universities from requiring training on race and gender diversity.
  • One school leader said the law is a “solution looking for a problem which does not exist.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Friday into law a controversial bill that bans K-12 schools from teaching certain lessons about race and gender if they cause “discomfort, guilt, anguish or psychological distress” to students.

“Now more than ever, we need policies that bring us closer together, not rip us apart,” Stitt said in a video about the legislation. “As governor, I firmly believe that not one cent of taxpayer money should be used to define and divide young Oklahomans by their race or sex. That is what this bill upholds for public education.”

House Bill 1775 prevents K-12 schools from teaching “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive,” and “bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”

Read more: Trump isn’t endorsing a candidate in the Virginia GOP governor race. His absence has made an already chaotic campaign even more bonkers.

It also bars the teachings that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another.”

As The Oklahoman reported, lawmakers who supported the bill say it is to prevent the teaching of critical race theory in schools, though it’s not clear whether any Oklahoma schools are teaching lessons based on critical race theory.

According to the American Bar Association, critical race theory was coined by legal scholar KimberlĂ© Crenshaw and “cannot be confined to a static and narrow definition but is considered to be an evolving and malleable practice.”

“It critiques how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism perpetuate a racial caste system that relegates people of color to the bottom tiers,” according to the ABA.

The theory involves examing how slavery and segregation continue to impact present-day society and acknowledges “racism is not a bygone relic of the past,” according to the ABA.

“No matter how poorly written, the intention of the bill clearly aims to limit teaching the racial implications of America’s history,” the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission said in a statement opposing the bill. “The bill serves no purpose than to fuel the racism and denial that afflicts our communities and our nation. It is a sad day and a stain on Oklahoma.”

Republicans have increasingly narrowed in on the idea of critical race theory, as The Atlantic reported Friday. Former President Donald Trump last year, for example, banned federal agencies from conducting workplace race trainings. Idaho lawmakers also recently passed a similar bill, although the governor hasn’t yet signed it into law.

But opponents of these bills say these types of legislation actually serve as roadblocks to frank discussions about racism and US history, as The Atlantic noted.

“HB 1775 appears to be a solution looking for a problem which does not exist,” said Dr. Sean McDaniel, Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent, in a statement earlier this week.

“We have teachers across the district who we trust to make decisions – sometimes life and death decisions – on behalf of our students each and every day,” he said. “Surely we can continue to trust our educators to guide these difficult yet necessary conversations with our students inside of their classrooms. “

The Oklahoma law also bans public colleges and universities from engaging “in any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training,” which also faced opposition.

“It runs contrary to the goals we have laid out for ourselves as part of our Strategic Plan, and the initiatives we have established to make OU a place of true belonging for all,” said Joseph Harroz, the president of the University of Oklahoma, in a statement opposing the legislation. “As an institution of higher learning, we are a fertile ground for the exchange of free ideas and the celebration of all forms of diversity.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Idaho wants to make it illegal for schools to teach students how to think critically about racism

Gov. Brad Little
Idaho Gov. Brad Little at a press conference on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 in Boise, Idaho.

  • Idaho lawmakers pushed through a bill that would bar schools from teaching about racism.
  • The bill passed in the Senate and House and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
  • Lawmakers argued that critical race theory caused division and kids to hate their country,
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A bill that would ban teaching critical race theory and other similar teachings in schools in Idaho is awaiting Gov. Brad Little’s signature.

The bill, HB 377, passed in the state’s senate on Monday after passing through the house last week. It would prohibit public schools from teaching that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior,” which it says can be found in critical race theory.

The bill also bans teachings that argue that people should be treated differently based on things like race or gender and that people are not responsible for past actions committed by people who share their same demographics.

Critical race theory is a term created by legal scholar KimberlĂ© Crenshaw and is a loosely organized framework of legal analysis that “recognizes that racism is not a bygone relic of the past,” according to the American Bar Association.

The theory acknowledges how slavery and segregation played a role in the current situation of Black Americans and other people of color.

Some GOP lawmakers said discussions about racism are teaching kids to “hate their country,” the Idaho Statesman reported.

Students, however, said the discussions on racism don’t teach them to hate their country but instead allow them to have a more clear and accurate understanding of the US’s history. That understanding, they said, is key so that wrongs can be corrected.

“Make no mistake, this is self-awareness,” Yvonne Shen, 13, said. “If we aren’t able to recognize our own flaws, we will never be able to progress beyond them.”

Layne McInelly, president of the Idaho Education Association, told CNN that the idea that teachers were indoctrinating students was “very disappointing.”

“This is a ‘monster under the bed’ problem brought about by a false and misleading narrative that some legislators have willfully conflated. They aim to diminish the public’s trust in our teachers and schools, just to come back next year and push to privatize education,” McInelly said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Louisiana state lawmaker suggests that schools should teach the ‘good’ of slavery

Louisiana State Capitol
The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.

  • La. state Rep. Ray Garofalo said that public schools should teach the “good” and “bad” of slavery.
  • His suggestion was immediately dismissed by fellow GOP state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty.
  • Garofalo backs legislation that would prevent teaching that the US or Louisiana is “systematically racist or sexist.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP state Rep. Ray Garofalo of Louisiana on Tuesday said that public schools and colleges should teach the “good” of slavery during discussions about race, as part of a bill that he proposed that would bar “divisive concepts” from classrooms.

Garofalo, who chairs the House Education Committee, said during a hearing on the bill, also known as HB 564, that his legislation sought to remove “politics out of the classroom” and cultivate “a learning environment free of discrimination.”

When Garofalo began to explain how slavery could be taught in the classroom, his comments elicited derision.

“If you’re having a discussion on slavery, then you can talk about everything dealing with slavery, the good, the bad, the ugly,” he said.

His suggestion was immediately dismissed by fellow GOP state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty.

“There’s no good to slavery, though,” she said.

Read more: This millennial GOP congressman voted to impeach Trump. Now he’s trying to save his party from going off a cliff.

Garofalo’s bill would have barred teaching that the US or Louisiana is “systematically racist or sexist,” among other requirements for exploring such issues in classroom discussions.

The bill would also ban the instruction of information that “teaches, advocates, acts upon or promotes divisive concepts.”

On Tuesday, the proposal stalled, but Garofalo was optimistic about rewriting some of the language in order to gain the support of some skeptical Republicans.

However, a bipartisan group of committee members asked Garofalo not to bring back the bill during the current legislative session, according to the Associated Press.

“I’m not sure that we can get this bill in the correct posture this session,” said GOP state Rep. Barbara Freiberg.

Democratic state Rep. Gary Carter slammed the legislation as “a bad bill.”

The Louisiana Democratic Party, which shared a video of Garofalo on their Twitter account, rebuked his statements on slavery.

“The low point of session undoubtedly came today when Rep. Ray Garofalo said Louisiana schools need to teach the good of slavery,” the party wrote.

The legislation comes as Republicans across the country have pushed back against critical race theory, which seeks to explore how generations of inequality and racism still reverberate in American society.

Garofalo argued that critical race theory “furthers racism and fuels hate.”

When asked what specific problems have arisen in Louisiana regarding such teachings, Garofalo said that he’s heard “concerns” from various teachers and parents, but declined to provide any names, according to the Associated Press.

Read the original article on Business Insider