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Critical Race Politics in New England

The real Sampson

A friend, once a schoolteacher, thinks that in the future we may be speaking to each other in acronyms. There are so many of them in the air. U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is widely known as AOC, and Critical Race Theory is referred to in news accounts as CRT. We have learned to think in abbreviations -- see Twitter -- and our ideas, usually rented from some partisan political platform thumper, are bumper sticker thoughts.

Looking forward to our post-modern era, philosopher and social critic Julian Benda once lamented – “History will smile to think that this is the species [the intellectuals of his day] for which Socrates and Jesus Christ died.”

CRT is much in the news lately. It has inspired grassroots rebellions among insistent parents at Board of Education (BOE) meetings. The parents usually insist on three points: that education should not be political indoctrination; that parents, rather than a mob of educrats, should be able to affirm curricula choices by voting in or out non-responsive BOE members; and finally that parents should have access to documentation upon which curriculum choices are made, so that they will be able to discharge responsibly their parental and civic duties.

Seeking to hold BOE members in Rhode Island to their civic responsibilities, Nicole Solas, a parent of a kindergarten student, requested numerous times that her school system release to her documentation that would answer a question foremost in her mind: Was the school system introducing into its curricula elements of Critical Race Theory?

There are parents across the nation who regard CRT as destructive theoretical humbuggery. The theory rests on the notion that racism, most often ambiguously defined, is so ingrained in various institutions – the law, pedagogy, politics, theology, etc. – as to be inexpungible. Only whites -- white is a color, not a race – may be racist. Blacks – black is a color, not a race – cannot be racist, even when they insist, as has Louis Farrakhan, appointed National Representative of the Nation of Islam by former NOI leader Elijah Muhammad, that whites are the sperm of the Devil. The CRT theory theoretically holds that Farrakhan’s organization, The Nation of Islam, denounced even by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a hate group – “Its theology of innate black superiority over whites and the deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT rhetoric of its leaders have earned the NOI a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate” -- cannot be a racist because, although hopelessly racist, the organization is rightly colored.

The CRT theory is self-refuting. If racism is unchangeably with us, part of the sociological DNA of whites, it follows that there cannot have been any change in racism from the colonial period to the present day. Neither Fredrick Douglas’ efforts to remove the chains of racism from the minds of whites, Abe Lincoln’s persuasive Second Inaugural Address, or the Civil War itself, can have moved the collective American conscience to embrace the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Progress of this kind is not possible if one regards racism as unalterably bound to the unchangeable color of one’s skin. If you are white, you cannot escape the tentacles of Critical Race Theory. Martin Luther King’s widely accepted rival theory that equality under the law requires men and women to judge each other by the quality of their characters rather than the color of their skin, a battering ram that broke apart the remaining vestiges of Jim Crow racism, was of no avail; the Civil War decided nothing; unchanging and unchangeable racism is with us now and forever. And because it is eternal and ubiquitous, it may be eternally denounced. We are stuck in a 1619 time warp.

Neither Martin Luther King, nor Socrates, nor Jesus Christ died to support Critical Race Theory.

As an historical and sociological theory, CRT, which denies any progress in race relations from 1619 – when slaves were first imported into the United States from Africa, the real beginning of the American republic, according to The New York Times – to present day America, is a self-refuting failure. But as a political strategy, CRT may have something going for it.

In Rhode Island, CRT Sampsons brought the roof down on the head of Solas. First she was ignored in her attempt to wrest curriculum information from the pedagogues; then she was told she would be sued for having burdened the educrats with more than 150 requests; then the threat of a suit was withdrawn; then she was told she would have to pay $9,000 to secure the information she needed to execute her civic and parental responsibilities; then she was told that the state’s Attorney General would intervene on behalf of the educrats. The AG, when pressed, quietly withdrew behind a potted plant.

If the ham-fisted educrats in Rhode Island had given Solas the information she had legally requested at first, there would have been no need for subsequent requests. Acting on the best instincts of any competent reporter, she filed 150 requests because she quite reasonably figured that, were there nothing to hide, those in possession of the data she needed would not have been so assiduously hiding it.

Here in Connecticut, parents who do not want to see their young children being muscled by CRT propagandists are just now kicking up a fuss. Protests have sprung up in various towns. In Guilford, GOP newcomers ousted incumbent school board members over a CRT push. And Republican State Senator Rob Samson, denounced by the usual culprits, challenged the CRT Sampsons on the floor of the Connecticut’s General Assembly, both liberating developments that would return educational decision-making back to parents of children, where it belongs in any republic worth the name.


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