The Corner

Politics & Policy

White House Unwisely Signals Support for Critical Race Theory

Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing at the White House in Washington D.C., July 8, 2021. (EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/Reuters)

Distancing themselves from the extremist tenets of CRT while clarifying that (of course) there is a lot of racism in America’s legacy of slavery and Jim Crow would be an easy way for Democrats to win themselves a Sister Souljah moment, and yet they can’t bring themselves to do it. Again and again and again, they whiff on a batting-practice pitch lobbed at 50 mph right down the middle of the plate.

The standard operating procedure for ordinary progressives and Democrats is pretty well set by now: pretend that there is nothing objectionable about a movement that hopes to teach students that being black means being a perpetual victim and that being white means membership in an oppressor class.

White House flack Jen Psaki employed a standard motte-and-bailey rhetorical trick when asked about the National Education Association’s insistence on pushing forward with CRT in schools. Finding it impossible to defend the bailey, she retreated to the safety of the motte and reframed the issue in terms that aren’t controversial (sneaking in a dubious appeal to authority because President Biden’s wife Jill used to teach at community colleges): “And he believes, as I believe, as a parent of children, that kids should learn about our history. So as a spouse of an educator he continues to believe that children should learn not just the good, but also the challenging parts of our history, and that’s part of what we’re talking about here, even as it’s become politically charged.”

Er, that…isn’t what we’re talking about here. The NEA, which has 2.3 million members, expressly vowed to “fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric.” The NEA called teaching CRT “reasonable and appropriate.” It has now handed its detractors a gift by open allying itself with Critical Race Theory. By suggesting that the White House is on the same side as the NEA in this matter and falsely suggesting that the NEA has nothing more controversial on its agenda than teaching “the challenging parts of our history,” Psaki has tied Biden to CRT.

It would be easy for Biden to burnish his centrist credentials by stepping back from CRT and pointing out that several aspects of it are patent malarkey. But of course the NEA is one of the biggest Democratic Party donors. Whatever instincts Biden may have to return to moderation are held hostage by the donors and activists who rule the Democratic Party. His apparent choice to ally himself with CRT is going to hurt him politically as the matter gains salience with the public. This isn’t going away, and the Democrats should be backpedaling away from it as fast as they can. Instead, they’re embracing CRT.


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