‘Conservatives’ and Critical Race Theory

New York Times columnists are not a representative sample.

In his reflection on the fight over CRT in the schools, “What Progressives Want, and What Conservatives Are Fighting,” Ross Douthat makes good points over the range of viewpoints on the progressive side but cherry-picks the conservative viewpoint to an absurd level:

The backlash to 1619 and similar efforts has convinced progressives that the right is desperately clinging to myths of American innocence. But conservatives often see themselves as objecting to the most radical parts of progressive revisionism, not the entire project. As the historian Matthew Karp notes in a perceptive essay for Harper’s, compared with just a generation ago the position of many conservatives has shifted, becoming explicitly anti-Lost Cause, anti-Confederate flag — and, in the recent congressional voting, mostly pro-Juneteenth as well. In its contest with the new progressivism, the right is abandoning Lee and rallying to Lincoln — for its own nationalist political purposes, Karp is quick to stress, but in a way that accepts a different center for historical debate than existed even when I attended high school.

There is certainly a brand of conservative in this camp. To the extent that “conservative” still meaningfully describes my politics, I’m in it. Certainly, Douthat is. But it’s absurd to argue that this is the mindset driving the various legislative bans on teaching CRT in schools in places like Texas and Alabama.

But, while his summary of the progressive views on CRT is more nuanced, he’s also wrong on this:

This means that you could imagine, out of this controversy, potential forms of synthesis — in which the progressive desire for a deeper reckoning with slavery and segregation gets embedded in a basically patriotic narrative of what the founding established, what Lincoln achieved, what America meant to people of many races, even with our sins.

While I can indeed imagine that synthesis emerging and even being satisfactory to most Black Americans, it certainly won’t be acceptable to CRT activists. Indeed, the whole point of the structural racism argument is to undermine a notion of a basically benign system that happened to have slavery as an original sin from which we only slowly recovered.

FILED UNDER: Education, Race and Politics, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Seems to me like the extremes (at both ends of the spectrum) are the ones who are actually driving that debate, ergo it is unlikely to be productively resolved and will result in the usual Balkanization.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @HarvardLaw92: That seems to be the way of American politics writ large anymore.

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  3. MarkedMan says:

    The problem with any analysis of how Conservatives are dealing with race is that the term “Conservative” itself is so ill defined. I find it useful to mentally divide it into two groups:
    – People who hold to the idea that political philosophy has real world impact AND who identify their own philosophy as “Conservative”.
    – People who are apologists for the Republicans and who associate the Republican Party with the term “Conservative”

    These groups have a high degree of overlap.

    What the first group has to say about race could be interesting and could provide a much needed counterpoint to the Left.

    What the second group has to say isn’t worth reading. The modern GOP is led by the Jim Crow states and their sole use of race is as a tool to divide and anger the working class, setting them at constant internal war so they cannot band together to demand better outcomes from the ruling elites and the politicians and officials that do their bidding.

    Since there is such an overwhelming overlap between the first group and the second, it is hard to imagine any useful dialog emerging.

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  4. Kylopod says:

    the right is abandoning Lee and rallying to Lincoln

    I beg to differ. The right is doing what it’s done for generations, which is invoke the “Party of Lincoln” mantra just long enough to bask in his exalted reputation, then when people’s backs are turned dive right back into their neo-Confederate apologia. It’s a bait and switch they’ve been playing for decades, and they know exactly what they’re doing.

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  5. drj says:

    in which the progressive desire for a deeper reckoning with slavery and segregation gets embedded in a basically patriotic narrative of what the founding established

    Oh Christ.

    This isn’t about “narrative” or pride of one’s country.

    This is about acknowledging the (actual rather than imaginary) past in order to help remedy the failings of the present.

    CRT isn’t about feeling bad about being an American, it’s about recognizing that social structures that emerged in the past sustain racial oppression.

    CRT is an antidote against the facile belief that, since we had Lincoln and MLK, everythig is now fine and dandy. It’s an antidote against the belief that, since the US was founded on freedom, everyone can be equally free nowadays.

    It’s about acknowledging that besides the light, there was darkness as well – and even, for some groups of people, that the bad clearly outweighed the good. And that, perhaps, this realization is a necessary precondition to create a more equitable society going forward.

    Why does it always have to be about mediocre white guys’ feelings?

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  6. Barry says:

    James,

    There are two rules about Douthat:

    1) He’s wrong.
    2) If you think that he’s right, see rule 1.

    This outrage about CRT is by the same people, organizations and sects which *always* opposed civil rights, and most of them supported slavery, Jim Crow and terrorism.

    As for the Confederate flag: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/09/us/politics/confederate-flag-capitol.html

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  7. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Seems to me like the extremes (at both ends of the spectrum) are the ones who are actually driving that debate, ergo it is unlikely to be productively resolved and will result in the usual Balkanization.”

    If we look at extremes by size and influence (i.e., a few powerless guys on one side are not the equivalent to an entire party which controls numerous state goverments and can block the Senate on the other side), the equivalent groups are:

    On the left: civil rights and reducing racism.

    On the right: a one-party state which wipes its @ss on civil rights, selects its own voters, overrides inconvenient election results, has unaccountable armed forces and paramilitaries.

    Don’t play false equivalence.

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  8. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Barry:

    I’m not. I’m alluding more to the continuum of personality. Basically the:

    Opposed to change under any circumstances
    Amenable to small, incremental change, but temperamentally resistant
    Ambivalent to change
    Amenable to incremental change, but temperamentally generally receptive
    Favors broad, sweeping change

    I’m not speaking to the motive or the goals, which seem OK to me. More to the personality types of the people largely leading the conversation (opposed and favors, above, who by nature are diametrically and instinctively opposed to each other before they’ve even opened their mouths to speak. The extremes). As James noted, that phenomenon pretty much defines modern politics and isn’t unique to this issue.

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  9. Barry says:

    Frankly, I can’t figure out your point or thesis. Your original comment boiled down to ‘both sides do it’.

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  10. mattbernius says:

    It is telling that Douthat thinks that the “middle” position is:

    This means that you could imagine, out of this controversy, potential forms of synthesis — in which the progressive desire for a deeper reckoning with slavery and segregation gets embedded in a basically patriotic narrative of what the founding established, what Lincoln achieved, what America meant to people of many races, even with our sins.

    In other words, more or less the status quo. Racism is something that wasn’t structural and in the past, therefore we don’t have to address its lingering effects. This is basically the “it’s time for Black and other minorities to get over it!” position.

    Basically, it’s a way of absolving one’s self from having to think about working towards true racial equity moving forward.

    @JJ:
    While I can indeed imagine that synthesis emerging and even being satisfactory to most Black Americans, it certainly won’t be acceptable to CRT activists. Indeed, the whole point of the structural racism argument is to undermine a notion of a basically benign system that happened to have slavery as an original sin from which we only slowly recovered.

    First, it’s sad that accurately describing our history and many current institutions is considered an “activist” position. Second, intentional or not, the use of “recovered” (the past tense) suggests that we are finished with said process of recovery. Given everything we’ve seen in the last 18 months (and the ongoing fight the CRT has sparked) I think “slowly recovering from” is a more realistic assessment.

    Further, the devil is in the details of Douthat’s “racism is in the past” formulation. Given how close it is to history as we currently see it now, I’m dubious that “most Black Americans” would buy into that particular view any more than most buy into our current way of telling our national history.

    Of course, I’m not a Black American, so I’m not going to try and guess too much what that community is thinking.

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  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Barry:

    The point / thesis was more “this would get resolved a whole lot more productively and amicably if 2, 3, and 4 were leading the conversation, instead of the 1 & 5 shouting at each other we have”. Don’t mine for something that isn’t there.

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  12. Barry says:

    See my original comment. The situation is that one party is 100% pro-racist, and is literally trying to repeat the 1870’s.

    Blaming others for that is protecting the guilty.

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  13. gVOR08 says:

    Oh FFS, could we talk about what’s really going on here? First, Ross Douthat is a highly educated, extremely erudite, idiot. He is an EEOC hire at NYT. They had to fire Bill Kristol because he kept lying and Douthat was the best “conservative” they could find. Ross is a “conservative” and the Republican Party claims to be “conservative”, but he speaks for no one and represents no one.

    FOX News (sic) is always looking for ways to fire up their viewers. They stumbled on CRT, got a reaction, and piled on. Kevin Drum has a chart. Once FOX lit it the base up, every GOP state legislator and governor realized he could put a W on the board by fighting back against the nonexistent tide of teaching CRT in grade school. They demanded school boards stop teaching it, and school boards, dependent on them for funding, fought back the urge to say, “What the hell are you talking about?” and said, “Oh, OK, we won’t teach esoteric legal theory in third grade.”

    The left also has air time to fill and talking heads who need to make bank arguing against whatever they can find, so now we have an on air debate over nothing.

    There is a legitimate debate to be had about how race should be handled in history classes, but this CRT debate ain’t it.

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  14. Since I have seen a number of critics of CRT claim that it is about teaching white kids to hate the color of their skin/that they are racists, I don’t think Douthat is exactly doing a full sampling of the conversation.

    And indeed to this:

    @mattbernius:

    In other words, more or less the status quo. Racism is something that wasn’t structural and in the past, therefore we don’t have to address its lingering effects. This is basically the “it’s time for Black and other minorities to get over it!” position.

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  15. mattbernius says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The point / thesis was more “this would get resolved a whole lot more productively and amicably if 2, 3, and 4 were leading the conversation, instead of the 1 & 5 shouting at each other we have”. Don’t mine for something that isn’t there.

    Behind the talking heads, there are a lot of people working in those positions.

    The challenge is that it’s very easy for people who are really “1’s” to convince themselves they are “2’s” or “3’s.” All it takes is a “4” to push for something a little too far and the “2’s” move to “1’s” and suddenly the “4’s” are painted as “5’s.”

    Case and point: structural racism and ways to deal with it.

    I seem to remember some recent friction when a bunch of “2’s”, “3’s”, and “4’s” worked together to come up with a different, potentially more equitable admission system for a prep school. Believe it or not, some folks suddenly thought that they were all activist “5’s” trying to up-end a system and ultimately making everything worse.

    Thus folks who might under other circumstances consider themselves a “2” or a “3” on matters of race head straight to “1’s-ville.”

    The devil is always in the details.

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  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Barry:

    See my second comment about motives and goals, which I agree with. My thesis was about process, not content. The sad thing is that however this is resolved is overwhelmingly likely to be less productive than it otherwise might have been had more reasonable voices (on both sides) been at the wheel. Don’t mine for things that aren’t there.

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  17. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @mattbernius:

    Behind the talking heads, there are a lot of people working in those positions.

    Let’s hope they end up constructing the solution.

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  18. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: And you *still* are not reading or answering my comment:

    The only equivalence here is false equivalence.

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  19. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Barry:

    I’m not interesting in humoring a strawman I never alluded to in the first place.

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  20. Barry says:

    Again, HarvardLaywer, false equivalence.

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  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Barry:

    If that makes you happy, ok. I’m not addressing your argument any further.

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  22. Joe says:

    @mattbernius:
    So the problem is not just the 1s and 5s screaming at their opposites, its the 1s and 5s trying to convince at least their respective 2s and 4s that everyone out there is really just a 5 or a 1 in sheep’s clothing and needs to be categorically opposed on that basis.

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  23. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:
    I should also add, there are also people who fancy themselves “4’s” who really are “5’s.” Though, when it’s finally time to start doing the work, those folks quickly wash out (or have to learn to compromise because fixing all of this is generational work).

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  24. mattbernius says:

    @Joe:

    So the problem is not just the 1s and 5s screaming at their opposites, its the 1s and 5s trying to convince at least their respective 2s and 4s that everyone out there is really just a 5 or a 1 in sheep’s clothing and needs to be categorically opposed on that basis.

    To some degree yes. Part of the problem is that our political systems are also biased to the 1/2 positions. So it’s very easy to gum up the works, or portray *any* change as radical. Or restrict change to the margins where it has little to no impact and still make it seem like “we’ve changed the whole system.”

    And as I said before, depending on the problem or the perscribed solution, people can quickly change position on that scale. Very few points are really fixed, despite the fact that everyone wants them to be.

    Or at least that’s what I’ve learned working around the edges of Criminal Legal System reform.

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  25. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92: History shows us that solutions are almost always constructed by the incrementalists. As MLK noted, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” When change comes it comes slowly, then all of the sudden.

    OTOH, physics shows us that in order to overcome inertia, you have to apply a unbalanced force. And since, as Barry and mattbernius note, the US has a political party that is leaning into opposing change in any circumstance while convincing themselves they are amenable to incremental change, inertia is the status quo. I don’t see how it is possible to give the incrementalists any chance to succeed without calls for sweeping change as a counter to that inertia.

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  26. mattbernius says:

    @Scott F.:

    History shows us that solutions are almost always constructed by the incrementalists. As MLK noted, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” When change comes it comes slowly, then all of the sudden.

    Also, history has a habit of sanding “5’s” down into “4’s.” See MLK as an example. It’s funny to read the galaxy brain takes the MLK would be against Critical Race Theory (also known as “demonstrate that you’ve never actually read MLK without saying that you’ve never read MLK).

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  27. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The soon-to-be-released report on UFO’s will prove that Alien life forms are here to save us from Critical Race Theory.

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  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott F.:

    I think that the counter-argument is also something Matt noted. Essentially, that the polarized environment in which we now exist has, to an extent, induced otherwise 2’s and 4’s to be pre-positioned to slide to their side. (I think I interpreted that correctly). In other words, the second the shouting starts, a lot of 2’s suddenly become 1’s, and a lot of 4’s suddenly become 5’s. The environment itself is constructed in such a way as to encourage self-selection toward the outliers. That was a great point.

    The outcome is predictable – heels inevitably dig in and it becomes more about sides than it becomes about the (otherwise harmless, or at worst innocuous) issue at hand.

    After thinking about it, I’m fairly sure that @gVOR08: is right as well.

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  29. HarvardLaw92 says:

    [deleted by user]

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  30. Scott F. says:

    Oh, I agree and I never meant to imply that MLK wasn’t one of those calling for broad, sweeping change. But, MLK understood that however passionate the cries for sweeping justice reform were, the reforms that would be actually achieved were going to be incremental.

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  31. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius:

    it’s sad that accurately describing our history and many current institutions is considered an “activist” position

    To some degree, it depends on what we think civics and social studies education at the primary and secondary levels should look like and, indeed, what their purpose should be. Collegiate history and social science are far more nuanced, aimed at budding adults.

    While I think the 1619 Project is closer to the truth than the 1776 Project, I have sympathies for what the latter was trying to achieve. There always has been a glossy, propagandistic quality to the introductory stuff, in that part of the object is inculcating notions of community and citizenship. I’m not sure that deconstruction makes much sense at that level. You have to construct before you deconstruct.

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  32. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Yes, we live in polarized times and the outcome is somewhat predictable when the polar opposites are entrenched. You’ll get no argument from me there – nothing will change.

    But, you have to realize that those “opposed to change under any circumstances” are perfectly fine with that outcome. They’ve stifled not only those who favor broad change, but also those who are amenable to small changes. The environment itself is constructed to give the game to one of the outliers.

    As gVORo8 notes, Critical Race Theory wasn’t “shouting” until it was manufactured to be so. Now, to merely defend a rather benign, academic theory is to be a radical. But, not defending CRT isn’t reasonableness, it’s capitulation.

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  33. mattbernius says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I think you captured the gist of it. People’s positions shift on the continuum for any number of reasons and/or issues. Sometimes folks hold different public and private positions as well. I also think our political system’s bias towards maintaining the status quo also creates a lot of that motion as well.

    Also, I want to be careful about demonizing “5’s” — most theories of social change require the presence of revolutionaries to help push things forward. Again, we need to remember that while he’s been sanitized into a “4,” MLK was definitely considered a “5” for most of his life (and in many cases actively criticized those who urged him to be a “4”).

    @James Joyner:

    To some degree, it depends on what we think civics and social studies education at the primary and secondary levels should look like and, indeed, what their purpose should be. Collegiate history and social science are far more nuanced, aimed at budding adults.

    Agreed. Though, I think we should have a serious discussion about the function of Civics at the High School level. On the one hand, there is a constant drumbeat that “people should not need a college education to be able to be active contributors to society.” However, if we only begin to dive into the reality of America (and the ongoing challenges of structural racism and the more uncomfortable parts of our history) at the collegiate level, then I think there’s a problem–both in terms of coddling (white) students and also exacerbating the divide between people with and without college diplomas.

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  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    OK, so once Americans have a better understanding of the history of race. . . sorry, I have to stop myself. Americans know precisely 3 things about American history: The Revolution, WW2 and Vietnam, and they have a 4th grade understanding of those. I defy anyone to find any advanced nation whose people are more ignorant of history – the average Brit or Frenchman knows more American history than the average American. Take a survey of regular folks and ask them about the Mexican-American War, then enjoy the blank looks from 90% of those people.

    But, OK, so we’re going to now ‘educate’ people to the nuances of institutional racism. Quick: name three institutions. Now define institutional racism in terms of those three institutions. You know, the institutions you couldn’t name?

    It’s things like this that has people like me dismissing academics as clueless.

    You know who George Washington was? Father of our country, correct! And? Explain the importance of Washington. Hello? Anything beyond ‘father of our country?’ No, no, not the fucking cherry tree.

    Fox News et al aren’t distorting CRT they’re explaining it to average people because on our side we have made zero progress in explaining it to average people. They’ve filled a void with propaganda. They dumbed it all down to: white guilt.

    Here’s how this works.

    Professor: So, Heisenberg used the metaphor of a cat in a box with a decaying. . .
    Average Joe: There’s a cat in a box? Why did he put a cat in a box? I’m not listening to some guy who mistreats animals!

    The liberal’s lament: If only they understood.
    Realist’s riposte: Well, they’re not going to, so now what have you got?

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  35. Barry says:

    @Scott F.: I would say that many reforms were massive and radical.

    The 1964 CRA, Brown v. Board of Education and blacks generally being allowed to vote was a change in the USA’s entire history (excluding a little over a decade).

    It took hundreds of years of deeply rooted law, custom, religious doctrine and removed a large chunk of it.

    The equivalent might be a third or more of the USA converting to LDS over the next quarter-century.

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  36. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “While I think the 1619 Project is closer to the truth than the 1776 Project, I have sympathies for what the latter was trying to achieve”

    I tend not to, because of context. The 1776 Project was a cheerleading effort to drown out and deny the 1619 Project.

    It was not conceived for completeness, but rather to deny the truth.

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  37. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott F.:

    I take your point, and I don’t believe that the 1’s are by any means the majority, but the environment has indeed tilted to concentrate people at the poles, so to speak. Indeed, which side prevails tends to be regional / situational in nature (i.e. the outcome won’t be the same in Austin as it will be in El Paso, because the group dynamics aren’t the same). I’m just not sure that “we need to make sure that our pole is as big as or as loud as the other one” is the solution, for either one. It just perpetuates the status quo, and I’m fairly certain that whatever outcome we do get out of it (assuming we get one at all) will be inferior to what we otherwise might have achieved. I’d prefer finding a way back from / out of the status quo. We can’t continue as a country basically at war with itself. It ended (or didn’t end at all, which is probably why we are still discussing this issue) pretty badly the last time that we tried.

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  38. Chip Daniels says:

    One extreme holds that black people are inferior; The other extreme holds that they aren’t.

    The truth of course is somewhere in the sensible middle.

    If this sounds like sarcasm, note that it is exactly what we have been hearing since slavery, and then again during the civil rights battles. The simple proposition of human equality, and the empirical facts of US history are described as “extreme”.

    If anyone doubts this, just consider: What is the “non-extreme”, “non-CRT” version of American history?

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  39. Kylopod says:

    @mattbernius:

    It’s funny to read the galaxy brain takes the MLK would be against Critical Race Theory (also known as “demonstrate that you’ve never actually read MLK without saying that you’ve never read MLK).

    This winds back to my earlier comment about Lincoln, actually. Not that I’m comparing the two (MLK was certainly, relative to his time, far more of a radical than Lincoln), but simply noting the way the right tries to appropriate both figures for their own purposes.

    I think some liberals don’t quite grasp the extent to which the modern right has constructed a myth of itself as the true champions of racial equality, and the left as impostors in that fight. They have a desperate need to believe that, despite being constantly accused of racism (as they see it), they are in fact the true heirs to Lincoln and MLK. Obviously this is hogwash to anyone who knows the history, and it requires a fairly high dose of cognitive dissonance, such as their simultaneously clinging to neo-Confederate apologia, or their forgetting that as late as the ’80s some Republicans in Congress were still calling King a communist (and Reagan more or less insinuating it even as he signed the bill establishing MLK day). But my point is that despite all that, this belief is still important to the right’s self-image today, and they’re willing to go the full route of historical revisionism to fit it (however awkwardly) into their worldview.

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  40. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @mattbernius:

    I don’t really mean to demonize 5’s (or 1’s, to be honest). I think (and agree) that you have to have both. I just have concerns about an environment where the natural buffering effect of the 2-4’s in between no longer limits their ability to drive the conversation to the edges and in their natural conflict stall anything and everything (see Congress …).

    The 2-4’s keep the car in the lane, but we’ve drifted towards a situation where they’re not doing that (or are unable to do that) any longer. Eventually, that’s deadly.

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  41. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    If only I could upvote that one multiple times … (clapping)

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  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    Oh no, people denying the truth! You mean, like all religious adherents?

    The truth: You’re a bag of water with a bit of carbon mixed in, infested by thousands of species of bacteria, viruses and fungi, and there are teeny tiny little spiders living in your eyelashes. Your life will very likely be nothing special, your DNA will likely dead-end, you’ll be forgotten in the blink of an eye and the people who forgot you will also be forgotten in the blink of an eye. But that’s OK because you’re just a single member of a shit and piss producing species trapped on an insignificant planet at the outskirts of one of the billion or so galaxies, each with billions of stars and billions of planets – a species that will rise and then disappear in a cosmic millisecond.

    I love the truth above all things. But I’m a fuckin’ weirdo. Most people need a bit more narrative, a bit more of a story. People don’t want the truth, they just want a truth, which is to say, not the actual truth.

    If we want to lead people to righteousness – on race or any other topic – learn from the master: write some parables. Narrative. Story. Hope. Where are we going with our truth? What will people get out of it? If the answer is guilt and more guilt, you’re done. Paint a picture of a better future. That’s how you convince people to join you.

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  43. Modulo Myself says:

    What’s crazy about all of the debate is that we’re talking about school as if every student just can’t wait to learn about American history. They go in, sit down, and just want to absorb everything, every detail, every argument, so we have to keep our schools anti-racism free because that divides us. You know how kids are: they love assignments and extra reading. Just give me a break.

    More importantly, self-loathing is going to come because you aren’t cool/attractive/rich/fit/etc. and not because you’re white and you heard about whiteness. White kids suddenly hating themselves because they’re white is just not happening. If you think that, you are an idiot.

    I think this is one of the central problem for Democrats–the fears that conservatives have are not fears you should have. It’s like owning and fantasizing about defending your family. That is an infantile fantasy. It should not be happening. Same goes with being afraid of a smidgen, a tiny little bit, of white guilt. Saying this politically is toxic though. Really toxic.

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  44. mattbernius says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The 2-4’s keep the car in the lane, but we’ve drifted towards a situation where they’re not doing that (or are unable to do that) any longer. Eventually, that’s deadly.

    I guess my question is: “is this really the case?”

    Or rather, are we in a particularly unique historical moment? I think that if we were having this conversation around race in say 1964 we’d hear example the same thing. Or gay rights in the ’90s.

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  45. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    This is not analogous to Civil Rights in 1964 or gay rights. In those cases the call to action was clear. The injustice was clear. And the majority of the majority were not affected negatively by the outcome.

    What is the call to action of CRT? What would you have a person actually do? Not think, not acknowledge, not comprehend, not become, not feel: do.

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  46. wr says:

    @mattbernius: “also known as “demonstrate that you’ve never actually read MLK without saying that you’ve never read MLK”

    What’s to read? It’s a well-known fact among “conservatives” that MLK only wrote and spoke one sentence in his entire life, and it’s the one about judging not by the color of a man’s skin but the content of his character…

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  47. Kurtz says:

    @James Joyner:

    You have to construct before you deconstruct.

    Best choice: construct properly from the beginning.

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  48. KM says:

    @Scott F.:

    But, not defending CRT isn’t reasonableness, it’s capitulation.

    Indeed. Quite a few unhappy-with-CRT people have as the subconscious rationalization “I don’t want anything to do with this, just keep it down please”. Generational work is hard, lifestyle and cultural shifts take effort and time. They not really opposed to fixing a problem but they don’t want to have to be the ones to do the work.

    I’ve likened it to a parent dealing with endless squabbling children – they know that there’s an issue and one’s more at fault than the other but just don’t want to deal with it. They want the fight to stop and peace restored, not really caring if one child is clearly wrong and benefits greatly from appeasement. Does Bill hit Joe and steal Sally’s toy all the time? Probably but Joe and Sally are giving them a headache from the protests so the parent’s concern is making it stop, not making it right. That’s usually a return to status quo, Bill getting away with what he’s done and being free to keep doing it again. Perhaps a slight punishment or correction for Bill but ultimately the fact that Bill has been doing this and will keep doing it doesn’t get addressed and Sally and Joe remain frustrated. Sally and Joe talking about how unfair it is and that the parent’s historical pattern of appeasement and capitulation causes more issues in the future is offensive to the adult; they’re not “bad people” but just can’t seem to care enough to ensure lasting justice instead of a five minute détente.

    Kicking the can down the road means you eventually walk into a giant pile of cans that will crush you if you don’t clear the way forward.

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  49. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Honestly, other than its use in teaching better histories (or… in your terms stories) and fighting against badly written laws that have the potential to further sanitize discussions of race in the US, I don’t care about CRT in schools.

    Frankly, I see this, like being “woke” before it, and “political correctness” before that, as the latest moral panic/wedge issue that populist conservatives are using to shore up power. The only part that really scares me is the amount of legislation that’s happening around it and the potential impact of that legislation.

    I was more referring to a broader critique I was reading into what @HL92 was writing (and I’ve seen in other threads around OTB and elsewhere) on topics like police reform or other current hot button social issues. Heck, for that matter voting rights/access. And my perception is that many folks believe that the “5’s” have taken over those conversations and the 2’s-4’s have lost control of the car.

    (Apologies @HL92 if that was an unwarranted extension of your point.)

    And I think the problem is that most of those issues are significantly complex and entrenched enough that there are no easy bits of messaging. And a lot of these necessarily take us into really uncomfortable topics.

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  50. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I’d prefer finding a way back from / out of the status quo. We can’t continue as a country basically at war with itself. It ended (or didn’t end at all, which is probably why we are still discussing this issue) pretty badly the last time that we tried.

    I’d prefer that, too. Show me a way out of the status quo that doesn’t involve agitation for sweeping change and I‘ll sign up immediately. But, I would contend no such way exists in our current environment. Reasonableness is immediately demonized (in ways that are very asymmetrically retrograde IMHO), so the status quo – a status quo that is unjust in terms of race – prevails. Do you really imagine the 1‘s will be satisfied if the 5‘s unilaterally hold their tongues?

    Upon reflection, I think your personality continuum is missing at least one point on the one end – those who would have us revert to conditions prior to change we‘ve already seen. Those who would have us make America great again, as it were. Even the status quo isn‘t acceptable to these people and this cohort just had one of their leading lights as POTUS.

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  51. mattbernius says:

    @Kurtz:

    Best choice: construct properly from the beginning.

    YES! So stealing this. The reason that we see the teaching of the role of strucutral racism in this country as “decontruction” is because the model of schooling we were brought up in *constructed* certain myths of our history (i.e. “States rights as the cause of the Civil War.”).

    There is no reason a better cirriculum couldn’t be constructed in the first place. And from that perspective the “1776 Report” was essentially an attempt to continue to push a white (not “right”) history of the US.

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  52. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @drj:

    Why does it always have to be about mediocre white guys’ feelings?

    Because as mediocre as they are, those guys control a vast majority of the real capital, and therefore the political capital, of the nation? (And yes, I knew the question was rhetorical. Consider this a rhetorical answer.)

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  53. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @mattbernius: @HarvardLaw92:

    I guess my question is: “is this really the case?”

    Or rather, are we in a particularly unique historical moment? I think that if we were having this conversation around race in say 1964 we’d hear example the same thing. Or gay rights in the ’90s

    My political life–say, Lewisnky scandal until now–it’s been the case that 1’s and 5’s define the political conversation, and 2-4’s are pretty much nowhere to be seen. It strikes me that by their very nature, 2-4’s are fundamentally not going to involve themselves in debates or policy construction. (On the grassroots or punditry level that is. I’m fully aware the Democratic party has generally been led by 2-4 moderate types, and there are still a few Romneys in the Republican party).

    About a decade ago I was working on a climate change campaign, with my side claiming we had about 10 years until the shit hit the fan (told you so), and the other side claiming any attempts to combat global warming is backdoor Marxism. Watching an episode of Real Time, some moderate wonk made the claim that the 1’s/5’s were excluding the 2-4’s from being involved in the climate change debate, and Maher cut him down pretty effectively. “What’s a moderate response look like when facing this type of catastrophe? You can’t have one. If this is an existential threat, then the response has to be in line with it.
    ‘What do we want?’
    ‘Incremental change that may not actually address the problem, but doesn’t upset us too much!’
    “When do we want it?”
    “Sometime in the next 10 to 15 years!””

    (Not an actual quote, but it was close to that.)

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  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Barry: I saw it less as “both sides do it” and more as “the polarization is complete to a level of having rent the political fabric into 2 parts.” YMMV.

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  55. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    What would you have a person actually do? Not think, not acknowledge, not comprehend, not become, not feel: do.

    I guess this means (taking one of your policy preferences) that you want to eliminate private gun ownership without first explaining how widespread gun owenership is a bad thing?

    That’s not how things work. (Also, I haven’t yet heard your practical solution for this particular problem, btw. Still, you bring it up regularly.)

    Paint a picture of a better future. That’s how you convince people to join you.

    As long as racial minorities remain the proverbial “other,” that’s easier said than done.

    So should we simply give up because (as you claim) Americans are among the worst educated people on the planet, simply too dumb to understand this shit?

    “Hey, this is too hard. Let’s simply give up.” Like that?

    Smells quite a bit like IGMFY – because the net effect is exactly the same.

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  56. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    What people are seeing is liberals tampering with their patriotism and pride in the midst of an already unsettling, frightening drop in the status of males and whites. I’m all for doing that if it’s going somewhere useful, somewhere that we need to go.

    But eventually the Tuckers of the world will realize that they’ve been handed a killer app. If racism is not individual but institutional, then white people are off the hook, because Billy Bob is clearly not an institution. That Confederate Battle Flag on Billy Bob’s truck? Not institutional.

    I recognize that academics have to be able to pass theories back and forth, but in political terms this is an own goal.

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  57. Clif says:

    Is there anything more despised by apologist white liberals that a black conservative? Trying to re-imagine history is just denial. There’s a reason why our people stayed here vs. going back to the land where they were enslaved. And most of us come from a heritage where some of our ancestors were also enslaved at some point, it still happens in some parts of the world. Is it the guilt of being a Democrat that makes them want to keep revisiting this issue in hopes that people will believe that they weren’t the party of slavery? It’s time to move on, it’s been over for 150 years and none of your guilt filled policies are helping anyone but yourselves.

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  58. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Scott F.:

    I’d prefer that, too. Show me a way out of the status quo that doesn’t involve agitation for sweeping change and I‘ll sign up immediately. But, I would contend no such way exists in our current environment.

    It’s already happening. What we’re seeing is the death-throes of a dying culture.

    The problem is, like all things cultural and moral, the change is glacial–Massive and unstoppable, but slow. Progressives want it to happen immediately–completely. And that’s just not going to happen. And they keep looking forward saying “We’re not there yet!”, while never looking back and seeing how far we’ve really come. Is there more to do? Absolutely. And there’s plenty of room for debate in how to get there–and even where “there” is. We’ve got people preaching everything from “just sit down and behave” to “your hairstyle is violence”.

    I look back 40 years to high school and what the zeitgeist was regarding race, sexuality, history, and what was “acceptable”. We’ve come a long way. There’s been missteps and potholes along the way, but we’re farther down the road to King’s dream than we probably should have expected to be.

    The 1’s and 5’s may be screaming the loudest, but it’s the younger generations of 3’s and 4’s who are moving us forward at a slow pace of acceptance and change.

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  59. Fortunato says:

    While I can indeed imagine that synthesis emerging and even being satisfactory to most Black Americans, it certainly won’t be acceptable to CRT activists.

    Someone out there please help me –
    Exactly where the f are all these “CRT activists”?!

    For the life of me I haven’t been able to uncover more than about 9 names, most of them Ivy league professors, for which that term might be marginally applicable.

    Not unlike all those “radical leftist Dems”, all 7 of them, who have actually advocated for ‘defunding the police’.

    You can fit the whole “radical leftist movement”, those that are indeed champions of these causes into a shortbus, nevertheless you can bet your arse that it is these two pillars of winger propaganda – CRT taught to toddlers and Defunding the Police – with some Border “invasion” mania stirred in for effect, that will allow the the party of Grifting Obtuse People to reclaim control of the House and Senate.

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  60. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @mattbernius:

    Or rather, are we in a particularly unique historical moment? I think that if we were having this conversation around race in say 1964 we’d hear example the same thing. Or gay rights in the ’90s.

    And I’d proffer that 1964 might be a watershed moment in terms of legal rights, but it didn’t do a great deal with respect to changing people’s minds in and of itself. Laws don’t and can’t litigate the way that people think. Interaction, and to a great extent (IMO) King’s courting of the moderate whites of his era began to facilitate that interaction, did. People tend to focus on the marquee moments, and I have to say that’s probably natural, but I’ve come to believe that it’s the little moments, the day to day stuff, that changes things.

    If we’re really honest, the 1’s and the 5’s from the 60’s probably haven’t moved that much at all. The 2-4’s in between, irrespective of race, are the ones that got us from then to now. That’s not even to say that we’re “there”. It’s a journey, probably a never-ending one, but people with their heels dug in aren’t that great at taking journeys.

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  61. Barry says:

    @Chip Daniels: “The truth of course is somewhere in the sensible middle.”

    And the people who say “don’t murder us” are exactly as extreme as the people who cheer the murders on.

    And dozens of CRT tyrants are exactly the same as the entire GOP.

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  62. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    What people are seeing is liberals tampering with their patriotism and pride in the midst of an already unsettling, frightening drop in the status of males and whites. I’m all for doing that if it’s going somewhere useful, somewhere that we need to go.

    Sigh.

    The reality is we could do nothing and have the same results. See the last almost 40 years of right-wing media.

    But eventually the Tuckers of the world will realize that they’ve been handed a killer app. If racism is not individual but institutional, then white people are off the hook, because Billy Bob is clearly not an institution.

    Or, perhaps, just perhaps, they realize that if they cede that argument, folks will actually need to do something about the… ummm… structural racism in our institutions.

    What happens if we actually say “we’ve designed our social safety net to keep out black folks and other minorities, and as a result, poor white folks are getting screwed in epic numbers too.” Or the criminal legal system.

    But instead, because racism in your indoctrinated view can only be practiced on the individual level, then hey, all those white folks in jail or not able to get benefits deserve it because there’s no way the system can be designed against them.

    Or in other words, you’re arguing that the Douthat’s of the world are right. We need to pretend that racism is a thing of the past and keep the white folks placated (and in doing so let them pass whatever legislation they want that ultimately just increases all that systemic racism).

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  63. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Laws don’t and can’t litigate the way that people think. ”

    For some people, the only change in thinking will be ‘If I do that I might be thrown in prison’, but that is a change in the way that people think.

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  64. Michael Reynolds says:

    @drj:
    Did I say give up? Give up on what, exactly? I asked a straightforward question: what are people to do. You don’t seem to have an answer. If there’s nothing for people to do, then this is a purely academic discussion.

    As for the gun analogy, no, sorry I have a very clear call to action there: don’t buy guns. Do I expect that to happen? It is happening, in most of the population.

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  65. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott F.:

    Do you really imagine the 1‘s will be satisfied if the 5‘s unilaterally hold their tongues?

    I think that gets to the broader, unspoken point that I didn’t elucidate very well: I’m fairly convinced that the 1’s, and the 5’s will never be satisfied. Constitutionally are probably incapable of being satisfied, because incrementalism is incongruent with their natures. 1’s don’t want to move at all. 5’s want everything, today, immediately. Effect incremental change (probably should read that as compromise) and 1’s will dig in that much harder, while 5’s will kvetch about less than a loaf. More and more I’ve come to the conclusion that if anything at all is to change, and by change I mean in a positive, productive way, the 2-4’s will have to make it happen (and indeed probably already are).

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  66. dazedandconfused says:

    “…the right is abandoning Lee and rallying to Lincoln — for its own nationalist political purposes,…”

    Excuse me for sec while I get my tongue well-planted in cheek. There we go.

    Here Douhat is laughably wrong. The right is irrefutably embracing Lee Atwater for its own national political purposes. What the hell is he thinking??

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  67. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Give up on what, exactly?

    Talking about CRT. That’s what the libs shouldn’t do anymore, because it might be offensive to some people.

    But guess what, we didn’t get gay marriage by shutting up about gay rights until the court cases were ready to go.

    don’t buy guns

    You know that pisses off the 2A people, right? They are buying more guns and mass shootings are up.

    I guess it’s probably better if you don’t talk about guns anymore.

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  68. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    don’t buy guns. Do I expect that to happen? It is happening, in most of the population.

    That one I have to refute. Gun sales have skyrocketed. Deep blue Maryland, where I’m from, saw a nearly 100% increase in the number of background checks for weapons for 2020 relative to 2019, and that rate has remained high. In a state where purchasing a gun means submitting to multiple background checks, paying for and passing a safety course, applying for / being approved for / paying for a permit, and registering themselves and their weapons with the state – in other words, Maryland makes it difficult by design, so that rate of increase can only be termed gargantuan. I can only imagine that it’s probably larger in the less restrictive states.

    More telling, the national data tells us that 40% of purchasers in that block were first-time buyers, and 40% of them (not necessarily the same 40%) were women. The rate of gun purchases for African-Americans in the period shot up 58%.

    People are not “not buying guns”. More of them are buying more of them than ever.

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  69. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:

    Or in other words, you’re arguing that the Douthat’s of the world are right. We need to pretend that racism is a thing of the past and keep the white folks placated (and in doing so let them pass whatever legislation they want that ultimately just increases all that systemic racism).

    With your leaping ability you should call the Olympic committee.

    There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who learned about racism as an evil, who learned the history of racial oppression, who learned the humanity of people of different races and religions and genders, from me. When every one of my peers was writing jump scares or romantic triangles, I was writing about bigger things, including the history of racism in this country, as well as the current reality of ongoing racism. So spare me the ‘placating white people’ bullshit.

    But telling people that the evil is embedded in un-named, never-defined institutions, while certainly a defensible position, is political self-harm. It’s lecturing from on high which will percolate down as nothing more sophisticated than white guilt imposed by college kids. Guilt is not a great motivator except insofar as it motivates people to throw up their hands and say, ‘enough, already.’

    This is not how you get change. CRT is the new ‘Defund.’ Creating effective propaganda requires talent and some familiarity with the audience. The target audience is not white college kids, it’s the 10% who are neither hard blue nor hard red. All we do on the Left is talk to each other. We could at least try to talk to the 10%, but we aren’t. Because we haven’t been able to reach those people, we have too little power to accomplish anything. In about 18 months we’re likely to have even less power, so there will still be people living in tents under the freeway, but golly, we’ll have ourselves a nifty theory.

    You cannot sell what you cannot explain. You cannot motivate people unless you show them a way forward. And if you remove racism from the area of virtue and make it about institutions, FFS, you eliminate any motivation for people to change themselves, and if they don’t think they need to change themselves, and if they can never feel good about changing themselves because the goal posts are forever in motion, then why do you imagine they’re going to rally around institutional change?

    You know what we’ve accomplished so far, in the real world, with CRT? We’ve managed to inspire a host of laws that will make the teaching of the truth even harder. That’s the real world effect. Mission accomplished.

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  70. R. Dave says:

    @mattbernius: Second, intentional or not, the use of “recovered” (the past tense) suggests that we are finished with said process of recovery. Given everything we’ve seen in the last 18 months (and the ongoing fight the CRT has sparked) I think “slowly recovering from” is a more realistic assessment.

    You see, I think this attitude, although superficially intended to sound reasonable, is actually in the extremist camp, mattbernius. On the spectrum from “black people are literal sub-humans, incapable of self-governance and thus, by the laws of God, Nature, and Man, rightly considered chattel” to “a person’s race is irrelevant to their station in life and their treatment by people and institutions in society”, the current status quo is like 99.99% of the way to the latter. Ironically, the hardcore 1619 Project / pro-CRT folks are the ones who don’t seem to grok just how ludicrously broken the societal attitudes that underlay the institution of slavery really were by comparison to the societal attitudes about race today. There is such a vast gulf between the two that it’s practically a categorical disconnect. Consider the gap between the societal attitudes today about food animals and the societal attitudes about black people, and you still won’t have quite the same degree of distance, since at least wanton cruelty to animals is actually illegal and widely condemned.

    Now, if we want to narrow the spectrum to something more recognizably similar – say, from the pre-Civil Rights 1950s to today – then I think there’s a reasonable debate to be had about how far we’ve come versus how far we have left to go, but even there, I would argue that we’re significantly closer to the goal than we are to the starting line. Maybe 75% of the way there or so. And again, I would say that anyone who argues that we’ve made little or no meaningful progress just doesn’t grasp how genuinely awful things were back then.

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  71. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    so there will still be people living in tents under the freeway, but golly, we’ll have ourselves a nifty theory.

    Dude, we’ve been over this before.

    Not a single Democrat is pushing the Great CRT Bill of 2021. Democrats are working on infrastructure and voting rights. (And would be getting those things if it wasn’t for Manchin and Sinema.)

    It’s Republicans not Democrats who talk about CRT all the time.

    In case you’ver forgotten, this very post was inspired by the dishonest musings of Ross Douthat AKA the thinking man’s Tucker Carlson.

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  72. Matthew Bernius says:

    @R. Dave:

    On the spectrum from “black people are literal sub-humans, incapable of self-governance and thus, by the laws of God, Nature, and Man, rightly considered chattel” to “a person’s race is irrelevant to their station in life and their treatment by people and institutions in society”, the current status quo is like 99.99% of the way to the latter.

    I’m having a hard time reconciling the above with:

    Now, if we want to narrow the spectrum to something more recognizably similar – say, from the pre-Civil Rights 1950s to today – then I think there’s a reasonable debate to be had about how far we’ve come versus how far we have left to go, but even there, I would argue that we’re significantly closer to the goal than we are to the starting line.

    Are things better today? No doubt they are. But the reality is also that they are no near equal in treatment because of historical factors (and honestly, if our starting point is “hey you’re no longer property” then that is setting the bar way too low). The problem is that we’re not talking about slavery, then break, then civil rights movements as discrete units.

    We can look at history, over and over again, from the end of slavery to today and see countless examples of how institutions (which contra Michael’s stuffing his fingers in his ear can be named, like State Criminal Legal Systems, SNAP, and other Social Service Benefits programs, like Housing Authorities, like State Election Laws, like the transportation departments of many cities, like the Armed Forces) have both intentionally and unintentionally done everything they can to create and reinforce the prevention of the development of intergenerational wealth and stability in Black (and minority) neighborhoods.

    Put this a different way, if I was to keep breaking your legs over and over again and then ask why you’re not running marathons, you might be a little frustrated. You might even think that’s wrong.

    Yet for some reason, folks are like, hey despite all the efforts to exclude you from prosperity, not to mention the gutting of key social support programs in your neighborhoods starting in the 70’s when welfare became associated with urban (Black) poverty, not to mention cutting up those neighborhoods by the interstate highway project (leading to increases in lead poisoning levels and asthma, along with other health issues), not to mention a war on drugs that disproportionately targeted your communities (want to talk about the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity) and a rise in background checks as part of the hiring process, not to mention just general rampant discrimination in the hiring process (cutting off paths to middle-class wealth generation for a lot of folks–especially in the supposedly advanced North), ya’ll finally got the right to vote (if it’s enforced) 50 years ago, so everything is equal now and we should stop talking about race (otherwise we upset the white folks who don’t want to acknowledge any of the above). I mean, ya’ll aren’t slaves anymore.

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  73. R. Dave says:

    @drj: It’s Republicans not Democrats who talk about CRT all the time.

    Among elected politicians, sure, but the folks who are advocating and implementing “CRT”, or whatever name we want to give to the amorphous set of racialized policies, programs, and principles at issue, are talking about it all the time, they are part of the Democratic coalition, and whenever Democratic politicians do address the issues involved, they tailor their comments to avoid offending that part of the coalition. So, this “CRT? Never heard of it.” line really isn’t fooling anyone. It’s the Democratic equivalent of Republicans’ “I didn’t see the tweet” excuse during the Trump years.

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  74. Scott F. says:

    @Mu Yixiao and @HarvardLaw92:
    I agree with both of you that gradual, incremental progress is being made even now and that this change is due to the yeoman work of those moderates accruing gains where they can find them.

    I still believe you are both understating the importance of those who are loudly, boorishing demanding massive change immediately. I say these accelerationists are more important today, in our current environment, because of the unique, though not unprecedented, situation of the day. Today’s prevailing conservatives are not that cohort that stands athwart history, yelling Stop. It’s MAGA Trumpist authoritarians threatening the future, yelling Go Back.

    If Progress is to continue in the face of such forces, it will need to be shouted down. That’s uncouth, but it is also unavoidable.

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  75. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @drj:

    It’s Republicans not Democrats who talk about CRT all the time.

    The left handed the issue up to them on a golden platter, like Defund before it, like political manna from Heaven. You thought that they weren’t going to use it for every inch of political mileage they could get out of it? Feh …

    This is what makes me so crazy about the Left. If it had to choose, it would choose being right (or righteous, as the case may be) over winning, every single time, and it buries itself in counterproductive faculty lounge BS while handing out ammunition to be used against it in the process. I’ve legit started to wonder if there isn’t some GOP deep operative office feeding this stuff to it. It’s that bad from a messaging standpoint. The Right is more of a win at all costs, and we’ll figure the rest out once we have. As nauseating as they are, they do know how to win.

    If you can’t do that, none of the rest of what you want to do – nothing – can be accomplished. It’d hard enough to win as it is without all of the the own goals and self-inflicted injuries.

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  76. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You know what we’ve accomplished so far, in the real world, with CRT? We’ve managed to inspire a host of laws that will make the teaching of the truth even harder. That’s the real world effect. Mission accomplished.

    And you wonder why folks are reading your posts as “listen you stupid folks, don’t scare the white people because at the end of the day, they are really the ones in control and you’re still not first-class citizens… so just keep your heads down and getting screwed…. but keep voting for white Democrats because otherwise things will get really, really worse.”

    Man, everything really went to hell when they had the audacity to elect a Black president. Things would have been so much better today if that didn’t happen and we could have kept all this racism tamped down.

    I know the YA audience has become toxic, but I have to wonder how much of your reaction to CRT is tied things that might not really be CRT related.

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  77. Modulo Myself says:

    @R. Dave:

    Yeah, and why do you think Democrats are talking about race? Is there a grand plan to humiliate white people and racialize this country? Or are they responding to actual racism?

    So many conservative arguments about CRT remind me of how fundamentalist Christians talk about atheism. You couldn’t just think that God doesn’t exist. You have to be filled up with propaganda and secular liberal materialist ideology, because it’s impossible not to believe in God otherwise.

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  78. drj says:

    @R. Dave:

    So, this “CRT? Never heard of it.” line really isn’t fooling anyone.

    Well, Democrats aren’t taking that line, are they?

    My point was that Democrats are certainly not prioritizing a debate on CRT over implementing concrete policy goals, as claimed by Michael Reynolds.

    But you were the guy who, during an earlier discussion on CRT, accused me of deliberately misinterpreting a source you provided by (*GASP*) quoting from it, while conveniently declining to do so yourself.

    So don’t be surprised if I’m not taking you seriously (at all) when it comes to CRT or related topics.

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  79. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott F.:

    In a more normal world, I’d agree with you. In the one that we have, I can’t help but regard it as serving political ammunition up to the opposition. Reynolds is making some salient points. I don’t have a problem with CRT. I think some good would likely come out of it, but it’s an esoteric animal that has more of an academic utility. It wouldn’t have been (IMO) that useful for advancing day to day race relations on the street, but in its proper context it could have served to broaden the derivative discussion that filters down to there. It’s, or should have been, more of a framework from which to derive more pertinent proposals for progress.

    Instead, it has been turned into (again, predictably) a weapon of political mass destruction, the fallout from which won’t advance anything. If we’re lucky, the best we’ll recoup from it will be minimal setbacks, and I don’t think we’ll get that lucky. 5’s do not do messaging well. All passion, no street smarts. You can’t accomplish anything if you don’t accomplish winning power first. Doesn’t make them bad people. It does open them up to being used against their own purpose by people who are much better at street fighting and playing dirty than they are.

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  80. Matthew Bernius says:

    @R. Dave:

    amorphous set of racialized policies, programs, and principles at issue

    Ok, I think this may be the crux of the issue. CAn you give me an example of one of these programs beyond “anti-racist” training?

    For example, do you see this as an example of Democrats pushing for racialized programs?

    https://www.agriculture.com/news/business/justice-for-black-farmers-bill-introduced-in-senate

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  81. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Yeah, and why do you think Democrats are talking about race? Is there a grand plan to humiliate white people and racialize this country? Or are they responding to actual racism?

    The question might better be put “Why do think Democrats are [suddenly] talking about race [when it never really bothered them that much before]”?

    To some extent, probably a significant one? They’re pandering to their base no differently than the Republicans are pandering to theirs, because they want to get reelected. You strike me as being more than bright enough to recognize when you’re, on some level anyway, being played.

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  82. Teve says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    So many conservative arguments about CRT remind me of how fundamentalist Christians talk about atheism. You couldn’t just think that God doesn’t exist. You have to be filled up with propaganda and secular liberal materialist ideology, because it’s impossible not to believe in God otherwise.

    That’s how commenters at the major creationist sites talk about evolutionary biologists, physicists, etc. We’re not supporting evolutionary science because it’s an incredibly important set of interlocking discoveries, has a fascinating history, is used in engineering to create things no human would have deliberately created, etc., we’re doing it because we all strictly obey Atheistic Materialism dogma in lockstep. Which tells you they have virtually zero contact with actual scientists, whose favorite thing in the world is to argue with each other.

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  83. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Matthew Bernius:

    For example, do you see this as an example of Democrats pushing for racialized programs?

    Nope. I see it as another example of Dems not seeing the forest for the trees politically. On face, not an objectionable idea at all. In the current economic climate, when farmers were already hanging on by their fingernails, and (utterly predictable) inflation is now kicking them in the teeth even further – let’s trot out a bill that singles out a (very recognizable) subset of farmers [Democratic base voters] for help. The message there is “hey, the rest of you, just do the best that you can … ”

    Heading into an already nasty set of headwinds for 2022, let’s see what we can do to make it harder to win.

    The attack ads write themselves. Like I said above, Dems are more concerned with being right(eous) than they are with winning.

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  84. DrDaveT says:

    @mattbernius:

    Given everything we’ve seen in the last 18 months (and the ongoing fight the CRT has sparked) I think “slowly recovering from” is a more realistic assessment.

    I think that’s still not quite accurate. Given that Step 1 of the 12-step process is “admit that you have a problem,” and the current kerfuffle over CRT is precisely a denial by the Right that we still have a problem, I don’t think we yet count as “recovering” at any pace, be it tortoise or hare.

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  85. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92: It’s precisely the abnormality of the world we have that undermines your argument as I see it. Trump and Fox have taught the opposition that they can fashion ammunition from whole cloth and be just as effective. They can tell a Big Lie that their own AG calls utter BS and the faithful will pick up arms and storm the seats of government. Ammunition has been made of Dr Seuss and Mr Potato Head, fer crissakes.

    Of course, it would be best if progressive were setting better terms, but they’re not setting the terms. If you’re going to be branded as Satan worshippers no matter what you say, what’s to be gained by being reasonable? It’s better to get your licks in.

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  86. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “The left handed the issue up to them on a golden platter, like Defund before it, like political manna from Heaven. You thought that they weren’t going to use it for every inch of political mileage they could get out of it? Feh …”

    Some small number of people on the left. The Right can generate a moral panic from anything, real or not. Remember that TFG got his start in Birtherism. We are seeing a massive wave of laws based on lies about the election.

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  87. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “To some extent, probably a significant one? They’re pandering to their base no differently than the Republicans are pandering to theirs, because they want to get reelected. You strike me as being more than bright enough to recognize when you’re, on some level anyway, being played.”

    Gaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwd.

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  88. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott F.:

    Of course, it would be best if progressive were setting better terms, but they’re not setting the terms. If you’re going to be branded as Satan worshippers no matter what you say, what’s to be gained by being reasonable? It’s better to get your licks in.

    My point exactly. The problem is that they aren’t doing that. They’re still floating along in some magical world where the righteous prevail and it’s one delightful ongoing bake sale while stepping on their own feet. The sooner they stop handing ammunition to the opposition and grow a set, the better off we’ll all be. CRT isn’t a bad thing. As I said, I think it could be a good thing, but it’s not a hill worth dying on when we have an election to win. They dropped the ball from the start.

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  89. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Barry:

    Some small number of people on the left. The Right can generate a moral panic from anything, real or not. Remember that TFG got his start in Birtherism. We are seeing a massive wave of laws based on lies about the election.

    Newsflash – in the absence of a coordinated Democratic response (as opposed to the chaotic mess we have now), those small number of people on the left are being, quite effectively, portrayed as representing the entire party. The right is doing all of the talking. I know 5 year olds who can put together more effective messaging than the Democratic Party. Being right is not, and never will be, enough on its own to win. The sooner they grasp that, the sooner things start getting better.

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  90. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    The problem is, like all things cultural and moral, the change is glacial

    Evaporating, and less powerful every year? It does feel that way sometimes, with the rise of bullshit on the right trying to flood the zone and destroy the possibility of reasoned debate.

    (Vonnegut wrote that writing an anti-war novel was akin to writing an anti-glacier novel, but I’m pretty sure that wars will outlast a lot of the glaciers.)

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  91. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Sorry to disagree, but the average Brit or French person knows jack diddly squat about American history. It isn’t taught. Why would it be?

    Granted their cumulative pool of knowledge is slightly larger of our history than is of our knowledge of theirs because of Hollywood movies. Global media osmosis.

    In 20 years we both will have a broader understanding of Chinese history because global movie money is shifting towards China.

    The average Brits I know have a distorted, warped view of US history and of current events based on what party they vote for. Ludicrously off-base assumptions and tainted conclusions.

    I also know erudite and learned folks who do have some nuanced understanding. Still many of them cannot understand why national elections are not a plebiscite.

    “It’s constitutionally mandated.”

    “So change the constitution.”

    I try to explain the process of amendments to them and fairly soon their brains go bzzzt because there is no obvious analog and comparison to them they can easily grasp and I lack their local in-grained knowledge of their system to make a better analogy. It gets lost in the pond.

    Also, the foreign people we know are generally well-educated, well-off professionals that usually have travelled extensively and not just to fully catered resorts in Majorca.

    They are decidedly not average. Just as you and I are not average.

    Having foreign friends, real friends you BS with, that you picked up relatively late in life by social interaction indicates a fairly privileged existence.

    That is not the average person’s experience. Average Joe / Jo does chat regularly with a woman he met at show in Reykjavik or with a guy he met at work in Stockholm, etc.

    Our concept of “average” is flawed by experience. I know some average people, but the ones I do go out of my way to hang out with are generally well-educated and we share the same sort of interests and passions and general worldview. Decidedly weird, un-average folks.

    We know a very skewed sample.

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  92. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    But eventually the Tuckers of the world will realize that they’ve been handed a killer app. If racism is not individual but institutional, then white people are off the hook, because Billy Bob is clearly not an institution. That Confederate Battle Flag on Billy Bob’s truck? Not institutional.

    That isn’t what CRT says. That’s only part of it.

    But the points you and @HarvardLaw92 aren’t wrong, per se. But it raises the question of what to actually do about it.*

    If the bulk of America truly has a 4th grade understanding of history, doesn’t that give the issue of curriculum outsize importance? And who knows the most about a particular subject and how best to teach it? Well, academics in that subject and in education departments.

    *Two issues with HL’s coding. 1.) part of the issue is that a large number of 2-4s are mostly politically disengaged.

    2.) the definition of extreme in America is skewed–excluding Right Wing fuckery as if it’s just plain patriotism and including anything vaguely European as ripped from Marx’s lost notebook.

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  93. George says:

    @Barry:

    Outside of formal systems such as math or logic, all equivalences are false — there’s always some differences. However people still like to equate different sides, and so always come up with reasons why their equivalences are true and their opponents equivalences are false. And this isn’t a both sides do it issue, this is an all sides do it issue, because it happens whenever any two of the almost eight billion people in the world start to discuss opinions.

    Seriously, how many issues really only have two sides? “Both sides” is one of the strangest sayings you can imagine in a world with a population in the billions. Almost everyone prefers their opinions to those of people who disagree with them. This is very close to: eight-billion sides do it.

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  94. Mu Yixiao says:

    @de stijl:

    It gets lost in the pond.

    I’ve been wasting time lately watching “foreign reaction” videos on YouTube. It’s a good way to remind myself just how different even our close-friend cultures are.

    Over the weekend I watched a New Zealand family react to an educational video about July 4th. They had zero clue what it was about (except parades and fireworks).

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  95. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kurtz:

    If the bulk of America truly has a 4th grade understanding of history, doesn’t that give the issue of curriculum outsize importance? And who knows the most about a particular subject and how best to teach it? Well, academics in that subject and in education departments.

    I think maybe the unspoken truth there is that most people don’t like school, and you’re not only competing with that, you’re to some degree undermining the fundamental truths (in their opinion) that they grew up with. In a sense (hypothetical) you’re telling them that Moses was a bad guy, and they’re evil people if they don’t agree with that assertion.

    That whole benevolent cognoscenti thing liberals tend to do is incredibly off-putting for the majority of the population who aren’t them. We’re incredibly, actively bad at speaking to anyone outside of “us”. The various words I’ve heard used in description by people who aren’t remotely MAGAHeads include “condescending, effete, arrogant, weak, petulant, and patronizing”. We suck at selling ideas to people who aren’t already convinced. Worse, we actively repel them and shut down their receptiveness to those ideas.

    Huge swath of the country was (and still is) in dire economic straits leading in to 2016. What do we do? Basically sneer at them and observe that we think they’re too stupid to get out of their own way. They might have a 4th grade understanding of history, but they’re more than keenly aware of when they’re being talked down to.

    Other side comes along and says “We hear you. We care. We’re going to make your lives better and here is how”. On some level I suspect they knew they were being lied to, but when you believe that nobody hears you and nobody cares, the first guy to come along and act like he does is water in the desert. We gave them condescension. The right held out the hope of dignity and being heard.

    And we subsequently sit around wondering how we lost. It’s almost comical, or would be if the consequences weren’t so dire.

    If the party wants to start fixing things, it can start with that.

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  96. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I love that guy. I intentionally stole that bit from him.

    I also like German Girl In America and Frenchtastic and Hrafna(Icelandic) and Dianne Jennings(Irish).

    The Lost In The Pond guy is the most interesting to me because he often does linguistic stuff that interests me. Plus, his wife is super lovingly snarky to him when he gets it wrong.

    Dianne Jennings has a super cutie doggo named Chewie tho. She anthropomorphizes Chewie’s thoughts pretty adorably sometimes.

    There is also a group of Western expats who teach English in Korea (ignant cracker alert) but I can’t remember the name that is pretty interesting.

    What was the NZ channel name if you remember it?

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  97. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Most people worldwide “understand” us via our exported TV and movies.

    That is very intriguing and very disturbing.

    An internalized impression based on highly stylized, unrealistic samples.

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  98. de stijl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    “We gave them condescension.”

    Speak for yourself. Your projection is duly noted.

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  99. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Out of curiosity, and perhaps you’ve stumbled across it – where do anti-evolution creationists think COVID variants come from? Is there supposed to be like a super-duper secret variants lab annex to the Wuhan lab?

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  100. Roger says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Huge swath of the country was (and still is) in dire economic straits leading in to 2016. What do we do? Basically sneer at them and observe that we think they’re too stupid to get out of their own way. They might have a 4th grade understanding of history, but they’re more than keenly aware of when they’re being talked down to.

    Sincere question: was it in France, NYC, or Cambridge where you reached your conclusions about what this huge swath of the country thinks? I ask this because the message you’re peddling has been pushed hard at least since 2016 (and really well before) and I’ve seen no more evidence for it now than I did then. Here in Missouri, I don’t just read about these folks, I live with them. Hell, I’m related to them. Here are a few of my observations from the wilds of flyover country:

    (1) Some folks are in genuine economic distress. That fact, however, is no predictor of whether they are diehard rightwingers or yellow dog Democrats. Other factors determine whether economic distress pushes them to the right or the left. Trump flags fly high from the beds of $50,000 pickups and the fences surrounding million dollar estates (and unlike what I read about the coasts, in the Ozarks a million dollar home is not a place the economically distressed live). I don’t claim to have our hosts’ political science expertise, so maybe I’m missing something, but the polls I read seem to support my observations that it’s not the economics of the downtrodden that is driving this boat. By the way, the boat also flies a Trump flag.

    (2) Nobody is better at talking down to folks than a rural Republican, but you don’t see much handwringing about how the Republican party needs to get past sneering at educated voters. I’ve seen friends and family mock educated city folks who, they claim, couldn’t poor piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel without a second thought as to whether it was wrong to be so condescending. It’s not condescension that bothers them: it’s realizing that they are losing what they see as a culture war and that the people who are looking down at them really do know more than they do. Roger’s rule: condescension only hurts when you realize you deserve to be condescended to.

    (3) Talking down to people generally isn’t an effective way to change their minds, but once they’ve chosen a team neither is anything else. Most conservatives (as that term is currently used, and probably most other people, too) need to see racism affect someone they care about before they will listen to explanations that our society is structured in a way that hurts people of color, whether you call it critical race theory or anything else.

    (4) The guy at the gas station who sucks his teeth as he explains how CRT and bakers having to sell rainbow cakes to the gays and boys who try to sneak into girls’ locker rooms by pretending to be girls are forcing him to vote Republican was never going to do anything other than vote Republican. It’s not about the dignity of being heard. It’s about being told it’s ok to do what you were going to do anyway.

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  101. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08:

    Out of curiosity, and perhaps you’ve stumbled across it – where do anti-evolution creationists think COVID variants come from?

    My experience is that at least the more sophisticated creationists (and especially ID advocates) make a distinction between “microevolution” and “macroevolution,” and they claim to accept the former to some degree. (Where they draw the boundary between the two can get pretty fuzzy.) But the “average” fundamentalist off the street? I’m not so sure. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s recent comments seemed to suggest that because she rejected evolution, therefore Covid must be a bioweapon. I was not sure I followed her logic, but it seemed to be rooted in a denial of any change in organisms or viruses.

    The 1994 book Beak of the Finch describes the cognitive dissonance the authors encountered among many creationists, including farmers in the Bible Belt who deal on a regular basis with pests that become resistant to pesticides after a few generations, but without ever thinking of this process as evolution. There’s one excerpt I’ve always found fascinating:

    Not long ago on an airplane I talked for an hour with someone about what I do, and never once mentioned the word evolution…. Anyway, the whole time on the plane, my fellow passenger was growing more and more excited. “What a neat idea! What a neat idea!” Finally, as the plane was landing, I told him this neat idea is called evolution. He turned purple.

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  102. mattbernius says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I see it as another example of Dems not seeing the forest for the trees politically. On face, not an objectionable idea at all. In the current economic climate, when farmers were already hanging on by their fingernails, and (utterly predictable) inflation is now kicking them in the teeth even further – let’s trot out a bill that singles out a (very recognizable) subset of farmers [Democratic base voters] for help.

    Counterpoint, there have been lots of farm relief packages and over and over again Black Farmers have been screwed (including in the most recent bail outs). In fact, the evidence of long-term discrimination is well documented and not in question.

    So given that:
    1. Black Americans make up a critical part of the Democratic Party.
    2. They–in particular in Southern Farming States–helped win Biden the primary and the general.
    3. They delivered GA, a heavy ag state, 2 Senate seats to the Dems.
    4. Part of the reason the Black vote was depressed in 2016 was a general feeling that Obama didn’t deliver anything for them in terms of advancing long standing equity issues.

    The doesn’t seem as crazy a move.

    There’s a really uncomfortable realpolitik undercurrent here that seem to be advancing a “don’t scare the white folks (especially farmers who aren’t going to vote for you in the first place) and actually deliver any real benefits to a core constituency due to the color of their skin.” I mean this reads like we gave you all the vote 50 years ago, so just put up with still riding at the back of the bus–we promise that at some point we’ll try to deliver something for you (provided it doesn’t scare all the white folks).

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  103. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @de stijl:

    Generic we. There was quite a lot of it going around here back then.

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  104. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @mattbernius:

    I wasn’t arguing against the program. More the packaging and the timing. Tuck it inside a larger farm aid package or slip it into something else. Needlessly opening up an avenue of attack is pointless when there are a multitude of other ways to get the same thing done without the baggage. Democrats tend to have a problem with strategic thinking.

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  105. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Roger:

    That would be Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, among others. I must the only one who remembers all of the pandering to out of work former steel workers and coal miners and auto workers.

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  106. mattbernius says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Ok, thank you for the clarification.

    I’m not sure about that particular strategy, especially if you want to be able to advertise what you did. But I appreciate your point.

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  107. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Huge swath of the country was (and still is) in dire economic straits leading in to 2016. What do we do? Basically sneer at them and observe that we think they’re too stupid to get out of their own way. They might have a 4th grade understanding of history, but they’re more than keenly aware of when they’re being talked down to.

    I was using @MR’s phrase, not mine. Though I have made similar arguments using less divisive language.

    You’re not going to find a ton of space between you and I on the surface here in terms of messaging issues. For example, many times in these forums, I have argued for race-neutral messaging on economic policy.

    But below the surface, in terms of philosophy, view of political institutions, and norms, the gap is quite clear. (I deleted something here that referenced the Mounk piece you pointed me to the other day. It relates, but I’m not finished looking through the study. Above all, I try to be fair, so the points I would make should be reserved for a different post.)

    On sneering:

    In reality, the sneering is mostly done by Republicans toward minorities and libertarians toward anyone they deem lazy.

    From the Left, somewhat ironically in this context, by Michael wrt to religion and phrases like the 4th grade line.

    There is a lot more to say here, but rather than bloating (too late) this comment, I will just make what I view as the most important point. There is a lot more to CRT than just a formalized name for institutional/systemic racism. As alluded to in my previous comment, institutions shape individual behavior. What one ‘knows’ of the world shapes their perspective and their behavior. So:

    -Institutional racism – – > racism on an individual level;

    -Challenging a racially sanitized version of American history is interpreted as an individual attack.

    The point? This is one of the keys in CRT itself! That when given a choice between a less distorted view of history that causes discomfort for some and a feel-good story that favors the historically dominant group, we default to the distorted narrative in deference to the dominant culture’s feelings.

    Put another way: The notion that CRT is considered identity politics but the sanitized narrative is considered objective history is an example that points to the value of critical theory and Foucault’s observations about the link between knowledge and power.

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  108. Kurtz says:

    @Roger:

    Thanks for that perspective. Well-worded, descriptive post.

    I (mostly) grew up around rural, white conservatives in the Deep South. I went to a private Southern Baptist university on scholarship. And now I live in an area that has long been a haven for economic elite Republicans. You can say that I have pretty extensive experience interacting with the three largest, most important Republican constituencies.

    If I had less capacity for empathy, that familiarity may have bred contempt. Instead, it made it easier to understand them without condemnation. Most of the time anyway, because along with that capacity for empathy, I developed some negative qualities, some of which lead to an explosion of prick.

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  109. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: Thanks for the response. And I love the

    Beak of the Finch

    anecdote. Sort of like Obamacare, it’s OK so long as you don’t speak its name.

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  110. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kurtz:

    Understood. I’m not against CRT. I just think that, as usual, Dems stepped on their wangs with the messaging, allowing it to become a thing that it never should have become, and probably doing a great deal of damage to the viability of CRT as anything more than the pet project of a few academics.

    For all of their faults, and they are legion, the GOP has messaging down to a science. They’re very good at communicating in a packaged and, more importantly, consistent way from a constellation of outlets to execute a cohesive messaging strategy. More to the point, they stick to the script, and they tailor it at the regional level.

    Dems by comparison come across looking like nobody knows who is in charge (or even if anyone is in charge), and tend to spend more time and effort engaged in interfaction squabbles. Even worse, it makes them look weak, which is poisonous. The takeaway for a lot of undecideds becomes why should I trust these people to run a country? They can’t even run their own party. It just makes me crazy. I’m mostly using CRT as an example of yet another probably good thing they’ve allowed to be turned into a cudgel. I get that the GOP would try to do it anyway, but Jesus, don’t help them do it.

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  111. Kurtz says:

    @mattbernius:

    There’s a really uncomfortable realpolitik undercurrent here that seem to be advancing a “don’t scare the white folks (especially farmers who aren’t going to vote for you in the first place) and actually deliver any real benefits to a core constituency due to the color of their skin.” I mean this reads like we gave you all the vote 50 years ago, so just put up with still riding at the back of the bus–we promise that at some point we’ll try to deliver something for you (provided it doesn’t scare all the white folks).

    Regardless of HL’s view in particular, this is part of the problem in terms of practical politics. It requires explanation and demonstration. And I suspect that when most people see statistical analyses, they just rely on priors to interpret it under the assumption that anything else is manipulated. See: the resistance to analytics in sports.

    Ignore the steady drumbeat of culture war from the RW mediasphere for the moment. That fact requires explanation. American politics is largely allergic to explanation.

    Obviously, I would defer to those around here who have campaign experience, but whenever I hear “debate prep” in the context of debates between candidates, I imagine aides focusing on sticky phrases and relaying as little substance as possible. Plus coming across as likable to as many people as possible.

    Couple those tendencies of the public with a portion of media, with zero commitment to ethics or intellectual integrity, that serves as an ideological organ to one of the political parties–the chance of a fact like that mattering is almost nil.

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  112. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @mattbernius:

    Sure. Tuck it inside a larger farm aid package, and you get a two-fer. You still get to strut your bona fides with the AA community, you’ve negated pushback and generated some goodwill among the other farmers (politics aside, at least some of them are going to remember who had their backs and cash doesn’t have a party affiliation when you’re broke), and you get the fun of putting the GOP into a position where they can’t vote against it, lest they hand you the opportunity to say to those same non AA farmers “look who stabbed you in the back”. Instead, well, you see what we got. This is a war, not a bake sale. You have to fight it like one.

    I have some respect for Nancy as a street fighter when she needs to be one, but Chuck Schumer needs to go. Yesterday. Total deer in headlights.

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  113. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: When I was younger, one of the theories was that God created new diseases for the purpose of trying to propel segments of societies in better directions. It’s a problematical element of believing that God, either by direction or by permission, causes 100% of the activities on the earth. We don’t understand our own theology very well and do a bad job of promoting it because we compartmentalize so much of what we believe. And because we dislike answering questions with “I don’t know.” (A problem not limited to evangelicals–or people of other faiths for that matter.)

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  114. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Yeah, I suspected we are in agreement on that aspect of political reality. Unfortunately, I suspect you, much less a moderate academic or a lefty like me, appear to some people like the maître d’ from Ferris Bueller. In fact that list of descriptors you used reminded me exactly of that dude.

    Aside: In my view, this problem has gradually become worse. In my view, part of it is a result of the mix of systems that place a soft limit of viable parties at 2.

    But leaving that observation aside, the Republicans as a whole abandoning any notion of conservatism and crossing over into firmly right wing territory has left the Dems in the position of managing a caucus of people ranging from center-right to center-left to AOC to Bernie.

    Coherent messaging is nearly impossible in that situation.

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  115. steve says:

    Took my first racial bias/diversity training class in the Navy 50 years ago. Have taken several since. After that first class almost 100% of the attendees thought it was BS. As the years went on people kept their opinions about the classes to themselves, but we certainly didnt have any examples in class of people saying the class had totally changed their thinking. So I have gone looking for evidence that teaching people this stuff makes a difference and I just dont find much. Yes, if you meditate on the right stuff then for a day to two you will be more enlightened but then it goes away. If there was any method of teaching that had good results I would expect there to be good literature on the method.

    Maybe CRT will be different but I expect that it will mostly just reinforce what people already think. At best probably just a waste of time and at worst making those inclined to not believe even more set in their beliefs. I mostly think we should concentrate on changing policy where we can.

    Steve

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  116. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius: I see what he’s saying, but since I was a small child, anytime anything was ever done for people of color–urban, rural, unemployed, underemployed, whatever–howl from conservatives has been “what about ME? why am I being excluded? what did THOSE people do to deserve a hand up?” It never ends and the beat goes on and on and on and on and on and…

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  117. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I just tend to be a bigger picture guy. The way I see it, we can do something good, or we do something good AND maximize its benefit to our political advantage. Why would we pass that up? But somehow we do, just about every time.

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  118. @Kurtz:

    The point? This is one of the keys in CRT itself! That when given a choice between a less distorted view of history that causes discomfort for some and a feel-good story that favors the historically dominant group, we default to the distorted narrative in deference to the dominant culture’s feelings.

    Indeed. This is key to these kinds of conversations.

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  119. Kurtz says:

    @steve:

    I think the attention on structures is largely a way to take the focus off demonizing individuals. But if you’re dealing with a stubborn culture composed of individuals who don’t come into contact with Others on a daily basis, it’s a steep ask to present the system-based argument in a persuasive way. Some are unwilling to even look at all.

    From my personal experience, the things I’ve said that got people to change their views were often throwaway lines or things I didn’t personally assess to be particularly persuasive. But even then, it was rarely, if ever, in an instant. It was something that sneaked past the lines of defense and attached itself somewhere inconspicuous.

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  120. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kurtz:

    But leaving that observation aside, the Republicans as a whole abandoning any notion of conservatism and crossing over into firmly right wing territory has left the Dems in the position of managing a caucus of people ranging from center-right to center-left to AOC to Bernie.

    I might be too much of an optimist, but I look at that situation and I see one side walling itself off a peninsula while it leaves the rest of the coconuts on the island for us to pick up. We just have to get better at climbing those trees. 🙂

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  121. Matt Bernius says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I have some respect for Nancy as a street fighter when she needs to be one, but Chuck Schumer needs to go. Yesterday. Total deer in headlights.

    On that we can both agree… Or at least that is the public persona he puts forward.

    On the plus side, he is really good at retail level politics within NYS. I have seen him at far more events in Western NY than I have ever seen Gillibrand. But that alone doesn’t make you majority leader.

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  122. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Just don’t try to attach your prize to a swallow.

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  123. DeD says:

    Indeed, the whole point of the structural racism argument is to undermine a notion of a basically benign system that happened to have slavery as an original sin from which we only slowly recovered.

    Oh, James, you’ve done it again.

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  124. Kurtz says:

    @DeD:

    I don’t think James wasendorsing that view.

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  125. James Joyner says:

    @DeD: @Kurtz: I think declaring All Men Are Created Equal while also owning slaves and enshrining that institution in our second founding (the Constitution) rather obviously hypocritical and at the root of structural racism. Even as a much more conservative young professor, back in the late 1990s, I was telling people that America had slaves before it had pilgrims. This was well before I had heard of CRT, much less the 1619 Project.

    That said, I’m not sure that full-on CRT is appropriate for grade school or even high school classrooms. I’m not sure the students are ready. Or that the average schoolteacher has the nuanced understanding of history to pull it off without coming across as Amerikka is Evil—which I’m pretty sure even Kimberly Crenshaw would disagree with.

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  126. JohnMcC says:

    @Mu Yixiao: There is a version of this genre on youtube in which young Japanese are exposed to their own history from the ’30s and ’40s. Nanking. Pearl Harbor. Fire bombing. Amazing the things that can be ‘disappeared’.

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  127. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Tuck it inside a larger farm aid package or slip it into something else.”

    It was. Did you really think this was something that was going to pass on its own through the Senate? It was part of the huge rescue bill. And it was meant as a corrective to part of the previous rescue bill that had included money for farmers that magically bypassed just about every Black farmer out there.

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  128. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “That said, I’m not sure that full-on CRT is appropriate for grade school or even high school classrooms.”

    THAT’S WHY NO ONE IS PROPOSING THIS!!!

    Everyone is running around here blasting the Democrats for their (standard) stupidity in pushing something that is arguably just but easy to make into a political target. But Democrats were never pushing CRT to schools. This was an invention of a Republican operative who has written — and been widely quoted, so there is no reason for the smug parade here to claim ignorance — that he thought CRT was a great phrase because no one understood it and he could make it sound really scary, so he and the rest of the party would start applying that label to everything under the sun.

    This isn’t a Democratic “own goal.” This is standard Republican bullshit.

    But as always, the parade of wannbe Bill Mahers insist that it’s all because Dems aren’t nearly as smart as they are. Because nothing gives them more pleasure than recycling Republican talking points, but claiming them as original thought.

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  129. Jen says:

    I just posted this in today’s open thread, but it’s appropriate here too.

    An after-school coordinator for the Manchester NH school district just quit, with the most off-the-hook, loony, unhinged rant about CRT and “anti-white” training…well, just read it: here.

    People are losing their grip on reality they are so wound up about this. It’s weird.

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  130. Mikey says:

    @wr:

    This was an invention of a Republican operative who has written — and been widely quoted, so there is no reason for the smug parade here to claim ignorance — that he thought CRT was a great phrase because no one understood it and he could make it sound really scary, so he and the rest of the party would start applying that label to everything under the sun.

    This. They aren’t even trying to hide what they’re doing, they are being entirely open about their lying about CRT and using it to underpin propaganda.

    What’s most disturbing, really, is that this doesn’t seem to make a difference to anyone. The righties are more than happy to push blatant bullshit and too many on the left are accepting the right’s framing as valid.

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  131. James Joyner says:

    @wr:

    “That said, I’m not sure that full-on CRT is appropriate for grade school or even high school classrooms.”

    THAT’S WHY NO ONE IS PROPOSING THIS!!!

    I don’t have access to the curricula of the schools, other than various reports in the media of proposed changes. But I do know that the 1619 Project—which is based on CRT but much less intellectually rigorous—is certainly being incorporated into school curricula.

    Again, I’m much more predisposed to the CRT line of thinking than I am to the crap coming out of Republican legislatures. But let’s not pretend that it’s wholly manufactured, either.

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  132. gVOR08 says:

    @wr: Darn, compose a comment in my mind, read on to the end of the thread, and find someone’s already said it, and better. Thank you.

    And James, c’mon.

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  133. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: You replied to WR while I was typing my email. And no EDIT. Yeah, you’re right, bothsides, it’s only 99% manufactured.

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  134. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08: I think it’s both. Yes, it’s the same reaction we’ve been seeing for 30ish years to things like “political correctness.” A lot of it is race-baiting. But there’s also so legitimate propaganda being sent via school channels is the name of signaling diversity.

    The amount of emails I get from local school officials on things like Black Lives Matter and the ostensible wave of anti-Asian violence is hilarious, given that they couldn’t even manage to get the damned schools open. Not to mention the various signaling on trans issues. I find it a bit much even though I’m generally supportive of the intentions. There’s a legitimate backlash from conservatives over this stuff that’s being leveraged by the propaganda machine.

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  135. Kurtz says:

    @James Joyner:

    After his exchange with Joy Reid, Rufo’s tweetstorm included a claim that he found CRT as part of the curriculum in 12 school districts. There are about 15k school districts in country.

    Even if he found 1000, or 10,000, it doesn’t change the fact that they are manufacturing what constitutes CRT. For example, in this tweet:

    4. Reid claimed that critical race theory doesn’t teach that all white people are racist. But critical race theorist Barbara Applebaum and critical whiteness studies professor Robin DiAngelo say it out loud: “all white people are racist”; “White identity is inherently racist.”

    He posts his evidence in the form of three images taken from books. The first two images include digital highlights, and the third uses a red underline.

    First image:

    The full sentence, “The relevant point for now is that all white people are racist or complicit by virtue of benefitting from privileges that they cannot voluntarily renounce.”

    Guess what part is highlighted? “All white people are racist.”

    This is profoundly dishonest, as it doesn’t represent the argument made in the sentence. It’s one thing to take a complete sentence out of context of a passage. This is some next level shit.

    What’s almost worse is that there are valid, persuasive arguments against the complete sentence that take no time to formulate.

    Second image:

    Digital highlights of the word “white.” I’m almost certain that Rufo just searched the book for white in order to quote-mine. I’m confident in that assessment, because you can see the double highlight on “white” in the phrase, “all white people are . . . racist.” Did he highlight the next six words, “in this use of the term”? Nope.

    The third image is best just viewed, because…well, I don’t feel like typing out the whole paragraph. Shoot me for laziness. At the very least it’s an argument with plenty of ground for dispute, yet this dude opts to distort the argument put forth by CRT scholars.

    Oh, Rufo’s sole pinned tweet? An ask for financial support so he can continue his work.

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  136. Jen says:

    @James Joyner:

    The amount of emails I get from local school officials on things like Black Lives Matter and the ostensible wave of anti-Asian violence is hilarious, given that they couldn’t even manage to get the damned schools open. Not to mention the various signaling on trans issues.

    The science on this adjusts fairly regularly, but generally speaking, most people are visual learners and retain very, very little of what they read. The general repetition you are finding irksome is necessary to reach those who, unlike you, are simply not tuned in at all to these issues. It’s best to assume that around 10%–or maybe, in a more educated population, 20%–of what you read is landing the mark and being retained.

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  137. mattbernius says:

    @Kurtz:
    Rufo basically gave the game away when he posted the following in a conversation with the equally odious James Lindsay.

    “We have successfully frozen their brand–“critical race theory”–into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all the various cultural insanities under that brand category…

    The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think “critical race theory.” We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”

    This Tweet Thread is still available: https://twitter.com/realchrisrufo/status/1371541044592996352?lang=en

    Rufo essentially is saying that whatever they don’t like is now part of Critical Race Theory regardless of whether or not it actually is.

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  138. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “Again, I’m much more predisposed to the CRT line of thinking than I am to the crap coming out of Republican legislatures.”

    Now you’re doing exactly what the Republicans are doing — you are taking any attempt by schools to teach the facts about slavery and labelling it “Critical Race Theory.”

    That’s like saying that any attempts to teach political science are actually teaching “Marxism.”

    “Critical Race Theory” is a specific thing. It’s not just a label you slap onto any thought that isn’t “them slaves were better off being owned because they got fed regular.”

    You want to debate over whether we should teach children that slavery was bad? Great — let’s do that. I’d love to see the Republicans fight for their side. But we might as well refer to that as “string theory” as “critical race theory” — because it’s no more one than the other.

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  139. wr says:

    @Jen: “most people are visual learners and retain very, very little of what they read.”

    I have a friend who used to work in HR and she told me that in that world it’s believed that a person has to hear a new idea seven times before it really penetrates their consciousness…

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  140. Jen says:

    @wr: That’s roughly what we’re taught in PR/communications too.

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  141. James Joyner says:

    @wr:

    “Critical Race Theory” is a specific thing. It’s not just a label you slap onto any thought that isn’t “them slaves were better off being owned because they got fed regular.”

    You want to debate over whether we should teach children that slavery was bad?

    I started public school in Houston, Texas in 1972 and graduated high school in the middle of nowhere, Alabama in 1984. We were well into “slavery was bad” territory even then.

    I’m referring to building curricula around the 1619 Project and the like. They’re based on CRT, if a bastardized, oversimplified version.

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  142. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “I started public school in Houston, Texas in 1972 and graduated high school in the middle of nowhere, Alabama in 1984. We were well into “slavery was bad” territory even then.”

    Perhaps you missed the recent news about the eighth grade history texts in Louisiana that spend pages talking about the poor former slave holders:

    “”They were able to reclaim their planation but, due to emancipation (the freeing of the slaves), lost all of their property in slaves. The family had to face the new reality of planting and harvesting their fields with freed people who, Kate regretted, now demanded ‘high wages’.”

    The people buying and selling these books are the ones screaming about “critical race theory.”

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  143. DeD says:

    @James Joyner:

    That said, I’m not sure that full-on CRT is appropriate for grade school or even high school classrooms.

    No doubt, James; I totally agree. I was not aware that CRT was being taught at those grade levels. That would not make much sense.

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  144. DeD says:

    Adjacent to the discussion, Adam Serwer has a new book out, “The Cruelty is the Point: The Past, Present, and Future of Trump’s America” in which he discusses how race-based practices of building and maintaining White hegemony within U.S. political systems came about. That sounds systemic. That sounds systematic. It also sounds like CRT.

    If you listen to and read The Bulwark, you’ll hear and see how the never-Trumpers actually discuss systems-based anti-democracy. This, out of the same mouths with which they criticize CRT. It’s amazing to hear and read, but I think they’ll have a cognitive epiphany rather soon, at which point they’ll go, “Ohhhhh, THAT’S what Critical Race Theory is …”

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  145. Kurtz says:

    @DeD:

    It’s amazing to hear and read, but I think they’ll have a cognitive epiphany rather soon, at which point they’ll go, “Ohhhhh, THAT’S what Critical Race Theory is …”

    Ehhh…I can’t share in that optimism. But cheers! Someone has to hold onto hope.

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  146. DeD says:

    @Kurtz:
    Yeah, one can hope, though, no?

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  147. Kurtz says:

    @DeD:

    Absolutely. I’m glad not everyone has been totally worn down. I’m a bit envious

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