Home > Essays > GOP’s Opposition to “Critical Race Theory” is REALLY an Opposition to Critical Thinking

GOP’s Opposition to “Critical Race Theory” is REALLY an Opposition to Critical Thinking

May 12, 2021

Yesterday, Common Dreams posted an op ed article by Chuck Idelson titled “The Far-Right War on History, Education and Thinking“. The post included this sentence that captures what the right’s obsession with Critical Race Theory (CRT) is really about:

The fanatical drive to eradicate a deeper analysis of U.S. history and the ability to engage in critical thinking stems from the same ideology that is at the heart of a similar flurry of extremist legislation from coast to coast to restrict the right to vote, criminalize public protest, block the ability of local jurisdictions to reduce the disproportionate funding of policing, and many other public policies….

CRT, writes David Theo Goldberg in Boston Review, “functions for the right today primarily as an empty signifier for any talk of race and racism at all, a catch-all specter lumping together ‘multiculturalism,’ ‘wokeism,’ ‘anti-racism,’ and ‘identity politics’—or indeed any suggestion that racial inequities in the United States are anything but fair outcomes, the result of choices made by equally positioned individuals in a free society. They are simply against any talk, discussion, mention, analysis, or intimation of race—except to say we shouldn’t talk about it.”

The goal, Goldberg added, is also “to rewrite history in its effort to neoliberalize racism: to reduce it to a matter of personal beliefs and interpersonal prejudice” rather than the ongoing legacy of centuries of structural racism.

The Trump wing of the GOP— which may well be the defining wing of that party— wants to end all public discourse on race based on the belief that history as it was taught to my generation… the generation that graduated from high school before the passage of Civil Rights legislation and the War on Poverty was launched… was accurate.

As I’ve posted and witnessed personally, history— like science– is revealed over time and needs to be re-examined as facts become clearer. If the “truth” in science was never questioned based on a clearer understanding of underlying facts, we would still believe the earth was flat and the sun rotated around the earth. When facts accumulate to undercut the “truth” of science, our paradigms change and new “truths” take their place. Our “truths” regarding politics are no different. Our nation was founded on the belief that the dominant economic and political paradigm of Europe was flawed. We wrote a Constitution that introduced a new paradigm designed to provide equal opportunities for all regardless of the caste they were born into. The authors, fearful of an overly strong central government based on their experiences in Europe, attempted to identify governance decisions that belonged at the State and local level and limited those that belonged at the Federal level. The authors of the Constitution also had the foresight to include language in the Constitution made it possible to make changes and clarifications as changes to their document, providing a means to amend the Constitution as needed. Indeed, the Preamble to the Constitution states the aspiration of creating a “more perfect union”… an acknowledgment that perfection was not attained with the language that follows, that as society changed and the facts-on-the-ground changed that the rules of governance would need to change as well.

If we never dug deeper into the truth of the injustices brought against the African Americans who were enslaved when the Constitution was written, we would not have addressed that issue through an Amendment. If we did not examine the inherent inequitable treatment afforded women because they were not allowed to vote they would still be second class citizens and certainly not elected to any offices. The world has changed and is changing and if students are not given the opportunity to discuss ways to change the way we interact with each other in response to those changes we will be stuck in the past.

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