The battle over Critical Race Theory (CRT) is heating up in school board meetings, state legislatures, and in the Nation’s Capital. Several states are considering legislation banning CRT in classrooms. As of this writing, five states have passed them. However, that situation is fluid as schools prepare to open in the fall.
Many readers might participate in such a conflict, either with a neighbor or in a formal public hearing. In either case, preparation can make the difference between carrying the day and being ignored.
This article presents several short arguments that CRT supporters will likely use and explain ways to counter them. Since the most common public meeting would be with a school board, these strategies incline in that direction.
Anti-CRT legislation stifles discussion of how racism has shaped the country’s past.
This assertion is flatly untrue. Most school systems have encouraged teachers to openly discuss racial issues since the eighties – in some systems for far longer. Any standard history textbook describes the experiences of African-Americans and other immigrant groups. CRT artificially limits the discussion by asserting that there is only one correct way to discuss those experiences. And that way is to frame the debate according to a Marxist class struggle narrative that creates disunity and strife. A proper presentation of the matter must always seek unity.
Only racists resist CRT’s “anti-racist” program.
Using the Marxist-inspired language of “oppressor” and “oppressed,” CRT creates a new form of racism. Ibram X. Kendi says in his book How to be an Anti-Racist, “The most threatening racist movement is … the regular American’s drive for a ‘race-neutral’ [society]. The construct of race neutrality actually feeds White nationalist victimhood by positing the notion that any policy protecting or advancing non-White Americans toward equity is ‘reverse discrimination.’”
By denying “race neutrality,” Dr. Kendi effectively says that the only way to fight racism is to be a racist. Such a position is contrary to uniting messge of Our Lord’s Great Commission is to preach the Faith to all nations and baptize them. Holy Mother Church unites all races in the same love of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Catholic position on race relations is as far from Dr. Kendi’s as Heaven is from Hell.
CRT proponents cannot be racists.
This argument hinges on redefining racism. The standard definition is that a racist is anyone who judges a person unfairly based on race. CRT offers a novel explanation. It says that only whites can be racists because they have the legal, social, or economic power to enforce their opinions. Since, as CRT argues, minorities are powerless, they cannot be racists.
The counter is to point to minority group members who are powerful. Indeed there are many non-white members of Congress, governors, mayors, and state legislators – to say nothing of business leaders, media figures and entertainers. Can anyone logically argue that they have no power at all?
There is little evidence that students are being taught CRT.
Education Week argued that CRT is not taught in the State of Georgia. The best counter is to provide evidence of CRT – books, assignments, handouts, school district documents, etc., as William Clark and Marcail McBride did. However, such evidence is not always available.
Opponents can point to the popularity of The 1619 Project and books like How to be an Anti-Racist and White Fragility. They can also point to the consistently positive spin that CRT gets in Education Week – the school administrators’ “trade paper.” EW’s marketing department claims that “Each month, nearly two million K-12 leaders routinely turn to Education Week for news, insights, analysis, and best practices.”
Anti-CRT Laws deprive teachers of free-speech rights by “gagging” them.
Freedom of speech does not apply to workplaces, as all workers are the agents of their employers. This is also true of teachers. Society tolerates teachers who make controversial statements, but there have always been justifiable limits. Lying to schoolchildren is one of them, and CRT is one big Marxist lie.
Another argument is that CRT itself proscribes a very rigid set of doctrines. For example, none of the following statements would be acceptable in a CRT-focused classroom:
- Racism in America has declined.
- One goal of the Civil War was to set enslaved people free.
- The 13th, 14th, 15th and 24th Amendments were designed to help Black Americans.
- Many Black politicians have been, and are, powerful.
Intelligent people can show there is abundant evidence that each point is at least partially true.
Efforts to Root Out Racism in Schools Would Unravel Under ‘Critical Race Theory’ Bills.
That statement is the title of a recent article in Education Week. In the real world, expressing racism has been forbidden in most schools for a half-century or more.
The “racism” that CRT points out is so-called “systemic racism.” In this case, the best defense is a question, “Exactly what parts of your system are racist?” Do not be put off with assertions that the whole system is racist. Just go back to the question and ask for specific information. Usually, they will not have any points. If they do come up with something, then ask, “Why haven’t you already changed that?” For example, if they say that teachers are racist, ask, “How so? Teachers are part of the natural order of things. The learned educate those who don’t know. That’s not racism. It’s common sense and wisdom.”
Racist outcomes are signs of a racist system.
Indeed, schools have not successfully erased the “achievement gap” between white and Asian students and their black and Hispanic counterparts. Much of the problem is a lack of individual responsibility. However, CRT advocates are likely to accuse the person who makes that point of being a racist. This challenge forces a person to defend themselves. That always fails, and for a very simple reason. Dr. Kendi put it in these words, “Only racists shy away from the R-word—racism is steeped in denial.” So, to a CRT advocate, any attempt to prove that people are not racists demonstrates that they are.
In a public forum, the best argument is a variation on the questions discussed above. “After all these years, why haven’t the schools solved the Achievement Gap?” Don’t let them say that the whole system is racist – ask them what specific parts of the system are racist and why they haven’t done anything about it.
A Few Other Points about Public Meetings
Public meetings are designed so the public can have a conversation with school officials or legislators. Instead, they often end up serving as an opportunity for excited and ill-informed citizens to “blow off steam” and then be quiet. The rules favor the officials who can opt to say nothing.
The most effective rule is the time limit that most public meetings place on individual speakers – usually two to three minutes. Only on infrequent occasions will people be able to violate those limits successfully.
So, speakers must be prepared to use those minutes effectively. That means that speakers should plan to make a few essential points and sit down when the time expires. It can also be effective to end with a statement like, “I have so much more to say. When can I sit down with one or more of the members and discuss this more fully?” That allows the speaker to go to the next meeting and say, “I tried to find an opportunity to discuss this, but no one would talk to me. So, why won’t you even talk about this?”
Another strategy is to go into the meeting with several other people who agree. When there are ten speakers, the two-minute time limit becomes twenty. Coordinate to cover all the CRT sophisms, not just one point. One angry person appears unhinged; ten angry people sound like an avalanche of adverse public opinion.
Such an avalanche is every public official’s greatest fear.
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