The February Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, headlined by Donald Trump, ignored pressing issues facing the United States and the world like the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the continuing COVID pandemic, and the worsening climate catastrophe. Instead it tried to rile up its white voting base for the 2022 mid-term elections by focusing on cultural grievances, including that white people are being victimized by calls for social justice. Unmentioned at the conference, but at the center of the white victimization movement, is fear that schools will teach children about the history of race and racism in American society, and their effort to block anything related to the rights latest racial mobilization code word, CRT.
Republican viciousness during the Senate appointment hearings for proposed Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson reached a new level of despicability. Potential Presidential candidates Hawley (Missouri), Cotton (Arkansas) and Cruz (Texas) took turns making increasingly hysterical accusations that the nominee coddled pedophiles and advocated for Critical Race Theory. Apparently Judge Jackson’s existence as a Black woman was proof that she would impose CRT on the American judiciary system.
It looks like rightwing claims of white victimization will be part of the Republican Party strategy in the 2022 New York State gubernatorial election. Congressional Representative Lee Zeldin from Suffolk County, the leading candidate for nomination, is campaigning against taxes, woke culture and preventing the spread of “critical race theory.” In New York State, school board elections are scheduled for May 17, six months before November’s congressional election. Filing petitions are due in most school districts by April 18.
As of February 35 states either passed or were considering legislation to restrict what students can learn and what teachers can teach about United States history. Over 60 anti-truth bills have been introduced or are in the pre-filing stage. More than 12 states already passed anti-truth in education laws or mandated statewide policies through executive action. Legislation has been introduced in both New Jersey and New York. In addition, Florida passed its notorious “Don’t Say Gay” law in an effort to somehow write the LBGTQ+ community out of existence.
In New Jersey, proposed Senate bills 664 and 598 would ban programs that require a public employee, including teachers, to “complete a training program that encourages participants to place blame or pass judgment on individuals on the basis of their race, ethnicity, or sex.” This would include anything would cause an individual tp “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of the individual's race, ethnicity, or sex.” The legislation specifically targets teachers and Critical Race Theory (CRT) and accuses teachers of engaging in “political and ideological indoctrination by pressuring students into adopting their own views.” School districts are forbidden from including “as part of a course of instruction or in a curriculum or instructional program, or allow teachers or other employees of the school district to use supplemental instructional materials that promote concepts related to critical race theory.” Classes are, however, still permitted “impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history,” as long as they don’t include CRT of make white students uncomfortable.
In New York, Assembly bills 8253 and 8579 prohibit the teaching of Critical Race Theory and making students feel uncomfortable. One of the bills would also ban the New York Times 1619 Project from being used in classrooms.
The AAUP, which represents college teachers in the United States, has denounced these efforts as a “coordinated attack aimed at denying the facts of racism throughout our nation’s history and censoring honest conversations about race. These educational gag orders seek to prohibit many things, including vaguely defined “divisive concepts” and matters that could make (white) students uncomfortable. They would prohibit discussion of both theories and well-documented facts.” The AAUP warns “teaching unpleasant facts about US history is not indoctrination. Suppressing them is.
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