Politics & Policy

CRT Backlash Is Not Astroturf

Parents and community members attend a Loudoun County School Board meeting which included a discussion about critical race theory, in Ashburn, Va., June 22, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Texas has joined Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee in passing laws to ban public schools from teaching critical race theory (CRT). Other states, such as Florida, have done so through executive rulemaking. This is a positive first step towards reclaiming American education from openly anti-American pedagogy.

The intellectual roots of CRT can be found in Marxist-influenced critical theory, which began in the academia of Weimar Germany. It developed into an “intersectional” ideology at Harvard Law School in the late 1980s, through Kimberlé Crenshaw and other supporters of Professor Derrick Bell. In recent years, however, it has metastasized into the pop psychology of bestsellers such as Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility as well as pseudohistory such as the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

CRT teaches that American ideals and institutions are mere fronts for white supremacy. It instructs its devotees to see everything through the lens of racial group identity and inherited guilt rather than treat individuals as individuals. Along with related critical gender and sexuality theories, it has increasingly colonized workplace training, journalism, and campus culture, and more recently entered the curricula of K–12 schools, where its practitioners are embraced and showered with cash by left-leaning school boards and educator groups such as the National Education Association.

K–12 education is where CRT has finally hit a popular backlash among American parents of all colors, who do not want their children indoctrinated in racial animosity and grievance, self-hatred, and crackpot history. The merest glimpse at public meetings on the topic, and the raw emotions of concerned parents, should disabuse anyone of the progressive notion that this is a concocted “Astroturf” movement put up by shadowy right-wing billionaires. It turns out that ordinary Americans and first-generation immigrants want their children to learn American ideals instead of Ivy League faculty-lounge jargon. They also do not appreciate the bullying and climate of fear that inevitably accompany CRT wherever it grows.

State legislation is a blunt instrument, and many of the first-generation anti-CRT bills could be more carefully written. The long game should be more grassroots involvement in ensuring that schools teach American history and values with fairness and accuracy. That includes the many racial injustices in our history that have deviated from our founding ideals. It is not improper, censorious, or unconstitutional for the people to decide what should be taught to children by government employees in government schools on government property. In this case, common sense, and devotion to a truthful version of our history, demands nothing less.

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