Effective opposition to Critical Race Theory

In their fight against "Critical Race Theory" (CRT), parents have been ignored by most school boards at a local level and labeled "domestic terrorists" at the federal level.

Republican state governments have responded to their plight by banning CRT in schools.  In a way, the state-level action shows that federalism works: different levels of government serve as checks and balances for one another.  However, due to the diffusion of CRT ideologies throughout common English terms, or "cross-over words," banning CRT will prove about as effective as eating soup with a fork.  The best way to protect their children from these ideas is for parents to recognize the earmarks of CRT and for the state government to grant them the freedom to educate their child how they choose.  

CRT belongs to a wider set of leftist theories, broadly labeled Critical Social Justice (CSJ).  It's not as if the highly academic theories of CRT are explicitly taught in schools — as critics of the Republican bills have been quick to point out.  What we are observing instead is that certain CSJ themes are making their way into existing subjects.   

One of the more prominent CSJ themes that is pervading public school history classes is the idea that the United States is founded in patriarchal and racist systems.  Another common earmark of a CSJ school is the inclusion of Queer Theory in the class offerings, which considers any normality — such as the notion that one is born as a man or a woman — to be oppressive, equating it with normativity.   

Thus, while banning CRT has become the rallying cry for parents and Republicans alike, explicitly banning CRT will miss the mark — it isn't explicitly taught.  Republican legislators are aware of this.  Most bills seeking to ban CRT don't even mention it by name.  Instead, they include circuitous definitions of what they're trying to ban.  For example, the Texas bill passed in June banning CRT states that if teachers choose to "discuss a widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs," they "shall explore that topic objectively and in a manner free from political bias."  Every teacher can claim he's unbiased, so Texas should get ready for a slew of court cases over what really counts as objectivity. 

Proponents of Critical Social Justice are excellently equipped for public discourse by using crossover words.  As Charles Pincourt and James Lindsay highlight in their book Counter Wokecraft: A Field Manual for Combatting the Woke in the University and Beyond, these words have a commonplace meaning but also a radical CSJ meaning.  Thus, they can be used in debates and laws and find widespread agreement, only to reveal their CSJ meaning later on.  Lawmakers thus find themselves trying to ban nice-sounding things like "diversity" or "liberation," placing them on the backfoot in lawsuits and public debates. 

Crossover words can also be used to introduce CSJ ideas into any academic subject.  This is normally done by adding the words "transformative" or "critical."  For example, "Geography" suddenly becomes "Critical Geography" — the course will emphasize how white people destroyed the entire world.  "Critical" is a crossover word itself, because its woke meaning is total conformity to woke ideology.  This new "Geography" will then be taught as a high school subject.  "Critical" Biology classes will claim that seeing obesity as unhealthy is "fatphobic."  By finding "oppression" in everything, CSJ can circumvent the bans on race and sex by focusing on "colonialism" or "healthism."  By attempting to ban away CSJ theories and vocabulary, legislators and parents will find themselves in a never-ending game of cat and mouse.

Because the principles of CSJ can't be mitigated by legislation, informed parents should be allowed to protect their kids from these destructive ideas by choosing their own course of education.  Parents ought to expect their government to support them however they choose to educate their children. 

Torben Halbe is a contributor for Young Voices, non-fiction author, and liberty activist based in Berlin, Germany. He holds an MSc in Biology from ETH Zurich. Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TorbenHalbe.

Image: college.library.

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