Sunday, 01 Oct 2023

The conservative scholar who lit a match to the US rights education wars

The conservative scholar who lit a match to the US rights education wars


The conservative scholar who lit a match to the US rights education wars

When two US senators - a Texas Republican and a Delaware Democrat - introduced a bill in June 2022 to expand grants for civics education, most observers saw it as something of an olive branch between the parties.

But despite initial momentum, three now-familiar letters stopped the bill in its tracks: CRT.

A mostly unknown conservative scholar writing in the National Review claimed the bill would "allow the Biden administration to push Critical Race Theory (CRT) on every public school in the country", calling the Republican co-sponsors "naive" victims of a hidden leftist agenda.

Critical race theory, which posits that racism permeates American institutions, has become rightwing shorthand for any classroom discussion of race.

Senator John Cornyn, who proposed the legislation and is the former GOP majority whip, dismissed the allegations, writing on Twitter that "the false, hysterical claims are untrue and worthy of a Russian active measures campaign, not a serious discussion of our bill".

But truthful or not, the criticisms spread like wildfire.

The National Review op-ed racked up thousands of interactions on social media, far-right Breitbart News ran an article whose headline pulled word-for-word from the editorial and the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, issued a press release warning the $1bn federal civics bill would "award grants to indoctrinate students with ideologies like critical race theory." High-profile commentators urged their followers to call lawmakers opposing what they described as "Trojan horse garbage" sponsored by "Rinos", or Republicans in name only.

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