Legacy media rushed to the defense of critical race theory (CRT) after concerned parents, activists and politicians lobbied to stop schools from teaching it to their children. In the course of defending it, however, several common lies to deceive the public emerged.
Critical Race Theory “Isn’t Being Taught In K-12 Schools”
Pro-CRT media and progressive activists have first tried to claim that CRT, which teaches children that America is fundamentally racist and instructs them to view every interaction through the lens of race, is not being taught in K-12 schools. MSNBC host Joy Reid has repeatedly claimed on her show that critical race theory has “nothing to do with” K-12 education.
Jon Favreau, a co-host on the liberal podcast Pod Save America, said that critical race theory is “not actually being taught in schools” and called it “a coordinated, well-funded GOP midterm strategy.”
Writer Sarah Kendzior also claimed critical race theory isn’t taught in schools and said that conservatives want to ban “basic historical facts.” (RELATED: ‘Define Critical Race Theory’: Far-Left Activists Quickly Shift Goalposts As Parents Nationwide Rebel)
But critical race theory is *not* what’s being taught or banned in schools. Basic historical facts — especially about topics like slavery, Jim Crow, genocides of Native Americans — is what the GOP want banned and they call it “critical race theory” to make it sound intimidating
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) June 12, 2021
We also had a fantastic conversation with @jelani9 about Critical Race Theory, which is:
1) Not actually being taught in schools
2) A coordinated, well-funded GOP midterm strategy
3) Really a debate about how we define history and patriotism: https://t.co/NgrF1do8jJ
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) June 18, 2021
But time and time again, administrators admit and even celebrate teaching critical race theory in the classroom.
Officials from the East Side Community School in Manhattan passed out literature asking parents to “reflect” on their “whiteness” through a list of “The 8 White Identities,” the New York Post reported.
A representative from the city’s Department of Education told the outlet that “the document in question was shared with the school by parents as a part of ongoing anti-racist work in the school community and is one of many resources the schools utilizes.”
Schools have also followed through on one of the key principles of critical race theory, which claims that merit-based systems perpetuate “inequity.”
Officials in Fairfax County, Virginia said that admissions tests for the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology would be replaced by a “holistic review” process, the Washington Post reported. In New York City, the largest school system in the country, merit-based admission to middle schools was replaced by a lottery system to increase diversity.
Schools have also started separating students by race. One Massachusetts public school district allegedly held a “healing event” after the Atlanta shooting and explicitly told white students that they could not participate. In May, a Virginia public school held an event for white staff only to “critically and authentically examine our role and responsibility in” the school’s “antiracism” efforts.
A Ban On Critical Race Theory Is A Ban On Teaching History
Media personalities also claim – seeming to contradict the idea that critical race theory is not being taught at all – that a ban on critical race theory constitutes a ban on teaching history.
Reid claimed that Republicans who are opposed to critical race theory would rather teach that “slavery was actually a blessing and there is no racism.” She also said that conservatives want to ban teaching the history of slavery in schools.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid falsely claims that conservatives are trying to ban the teaching of slavery in American schools. pic.twitter.com/z5jpZRBHA1
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) June 18, 2021
CNN host Don Lemon said during his show Thursday that conservatives are “trying to whitewash racism in America’s past” and “trying to block teaching America’s school kids about the history of racism in this country and the impact on our country.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that teaching children critical race theory is teaching “the youth and the future leaders of the country about systemic racism” and called it “responsible.”
Political commentator Jared Yates Sexton called opposition to critical race theory an “assault on education and history” that “is a fascist attack based in Nazi ideology.”
NBC News also ran an article redefining critical race theory as “the academic study of racism’s pervasive impact.”
The story’s oversimplified and misleading definitions of critical race theory seek to paint conservatives as eager to ban what the article calls “lessons on systemic racism.” NBC News called out anti-critical race theory groups for trying to “disrupt lessons on race and gender” and referred to critical race theory as “equity programs” that teach “about racism” or put in place “LGBTQ-inclusive policies.”
None of the bans on critical race theory that have been passed, however, ban the teaching of history or prevent teachers from accurately representing what took place.
Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt banned the teaching of critical race theory in the state’s public schools and universities – specifically, the law prevents educators from teaching that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another” or that someone is “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive” because of their race or sex.
An Idaho bill banning critical race theory also prevents schools from teaching that any race is inherently superior to another and bans schools from teaching that anyone should be treated differently because of their race or sex. Other critical race theory bans are similar – none of them prevent the accurate and fair teaching of history.
Conservatives Don’t Know What Critical Race Theory Is
Sexton also repeated another common talking point – the claim that conservatives who oppose critical race theory don’t know what it is. Sexton specifically claimed that “even most GOP members have no idea what CRT actually is.”
Far-left media ran with the false claim that conservatives don’t know how to define critical race theory.
Slate tweeted, “Conservatives want to cancel critical race theory. But they don’t know what it is.”
Political commentator Tariq Nasheed claimed on Twitter that “no one can clearly define what ‘Critical Race Theory’ is.”
Along with accusing conservatives of wanting to ban history class, Reid said that “hysterics can’t even define” what critical race theory is.
But in fighting back against critical race theory, conservatives have repeatedly shown that they know perfectly well what it is.
Former President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget director Russ Vought introduced a toolkit to help parents fight back against critical race theory that defines what it is, shows parents how to spot it, and talks about some of the history behind the school of thought. After finding out what was being taught to their children, parents have created over 165 groups to fight against critical race theory and commentators have risen to prominence for calling out the curriculum.
“School systems are teaching material that affirms Critical Race Theory’s main ideas when they recommend teachers ‘decolonize’ their curriculum by counting the races of different textbook authors,” Jonathan Butcher, a Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation when asked about Washington D.C.’s school equity materials.
Erika Sanzi, the Director of Outreach for Parents Defending Education, told the DCNF that parents know critical race theory when they see it play out in their children’s classrooms.
“Children are suddenly needing to lay out their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, their nation of origin, their religion, whether or not they identify as the sex they were born with,” Sanzi said. “And then they learn that all of these identities either fall into it to be a category of like an oppressor or oppressed.”
Bonus: Opposition To Critical Race Theory Is Funded By GOP Dark Money
Perhaps one of the most unfounded claims regarding critical race theory is that opposition to it is a top-down GOP strategy that has nothing to do with grassroots organizing.
New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb appeared on Pod Save America to discuss how opposition to critical race theory is “a coordinated, well-funded GOP midterm strategy,” according to a tweet from the show’s co-host, Jon Favreau. Another New Yorker staff writer, Jane Mayer, said that the movement against critical race theory “has all the red flags of an dark money astroturf campaign.”
In one wealthy Texas suburb, opponents of critical race theory beat out proponents by a 70-30 margin, according to Commentary Magazine. The Southlake, Texas, municipal elections saw three times the turnout they normally do and opponents of critical race theory won two school board seats, two city council seats, and the mayorship.
In fact, the NBC News article found that many of the 165 groups that opposed critical race theory were founded by parents who were upset at what their children were being taught in school.