New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu has come under fire in recent days for indicating that he would veto Republican-sponsored legislation banning public employees, including public school teachers, from promoting toxic Critical Race Theory (CRT) ideology in training and classrooms. Among other “divisive concepts” that the bill prohibits public funds from being used to teach is the notion that any person “is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive” simply “by virtue of his or her race or sex.” This is the central tenet of CRT.
When pressed on his rationale for not supporting the bill, Mr. Sununu cited free speech concerns, saying that the bill could “send us down the wrong path.” However, critics have countered that CRT and related concepts only encourage deeper racial divides in American society and have no place being taught in public institutions using taxpayer funds.
Public school classrooms, in particular, have become a flashpoint for tensions surrounding CRT in recent years, as various politicians, parents, and religious groups have raised concerns about the consequences of teaching CRT to children. Critics of CRT allege that it teaches young people that, no matter their words or actions, they automatically fall into categories of oppressor or victim based on skin color.
At its core, CRT is defined by the belief that all institutions, including the government, courts, and education system, are inherently racist and are designed to advantage white people, particularly white men, at the expense of women and minorities. It teaches that America was founded on racist principles and is therefore irredeemably racist and that the outcomes people experience in their lives are largely determined by their racial or sexual identity rather than by individual choices. According to CRT, white Americans are, at best, unconscious perpetrators of racial injustice. It is through ideologies such as CRT that divisive concepts such as “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” “microaggressions,” and “intersectionality” came into the political mainstream.
As a remedy for perceived injustices, proponents of CRT, such as Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, have explicitly endorsed a policy of intentional reverse discrimination or punishing white Americans today as a means to “even the score” for past inequities. As Mr. Kendi puts it quite clearly in his book: “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
President Trump issued an Executive Order in September of 2020 prohibiting the teaching of CRT and related ideologies by Federal agencies and contractors. President Trump’s Order describes CRT’s vision of America as “grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual,” and “contrary to the fundamental premises underpinning our Republic: that all individuals are created equal and should be allowed an equal opportunity under the law to pursue happiness and prosper based on individual merit.”
The order cited several instances of federal agencies using taxpayer dollars to pay outside contractors to provide toxic “training” to federal employees on such shocking topics as “how to be less white” and how to “face your whiteness.” In one case, a seminar at the Department of the Treasury promoted the idea that “virtually all White people, regardless of how ‘woke’ they are, contribute to racism.”
In another case, also cited in President Trump’s Executive Order, training materials from Argonne National Laboratories stated that meritocracy – or the idea that people should be selected for hiring or advancement based on their skill rather than arbitrary factors like race – is an “action of bias” and should be avoided. Proponents of CRT would have organizations, including our critical national laboratories like Argonne, make decisions about whom to hire and promote based on race and sex rather than talent and qualifications.
President Biden made it a Day One priority to reverse President Trump’s policy, issuing an Executive Order of his own that restored CRT programs and encouraged Federal entities to continue employee training to combat so-called “systemic racism.” In addition, Mr. Biden ordered the creation of new “diversity and inclusion” offices across the federal government, including the creation of a “diversity and inclusion chief” at U.S. Special Operations Command. Needless to say, this ideology is anathema to the ethos the military has traditionally cultivated, in which service members have been urged to treat one another equally, regardless of the color of their skin.
Now, Republican lawmakers in at least half a dozen state legislatures, as well as concerned parents and other private citizens, are taking action to continue the effort that President Trump initiated. For instance, the New Hampshire bill Governor Sununu has strangely vowed to oppose would outlaw the teaching of CRT in public school classrooms and other publicly funded institutions, raising awareness around this important issue.
In Texas, Republican state Representative James White recently introduced a bill that would ban teaching in public schools that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” and that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also publicly condemned critical race theory last month, stating that “teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money.” Instead, he said that money allocated to Florida as part of the most recent coronavirus relief package would go toward civics training for public school teachers, encouraging patriotic teaching of American history and government.
Even in a state as blue as Rhode Island, where Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature, Republican lawmaker Patricia Morgan has introduced legislation that would prohibit public schools from teaching that the United States is a fundamentally racist or sexist country.
These initiatives have been opposed by Democrats in every instance, and liberal lawmakers at the state and federal level appear determined to continue pushing for the implementation of CRT in more parts of public life. Time will tell whether the issue becomes explosive enough to weigh on voters’ minds in midterm elections next year.
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