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Lies and panic about Critical Race Theory

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To the editor: I wondered when Critical Race Theory, the latest bogeyman in the right wing’s perpetual outrage machine, would make an appearance in the public discourse of Fairbanks. Marilyn Buchanan (Aug. 17, “A misplaced teaching tool in our schools”) steps up to answer.

Ms. Buchanan lies that Critical Race Theory (CRT) “teaches students to hate our country, hate our history, hate heroic men and women who have given their all for the freedoms we enjoy today, and hate for white people.” Absolute hogwash, unadulterated gibberish, manifestly incorrect.

CRT provides an honest way to talk about inequality, by recognizing that we don’t really live in the meritocracy we want to imagine, that “race” is almost entirely a social convention not supported by science, and that racism is built into our society in the form of laws and policies, from the Three-fifths Compromise, through Jim Crow, and to present-day voter-suppression laws. Moreover, CRT recognizes that racist harm will not go away by our ignoring it, but only by our admitting and grappling with it.

And it isn’t being taught to our K-12 students. CRT isn’t a curriculum. It is the purview of universities and law schools, not of public school classrooms.

I can’t know what compels anyone in particular to lie about CRT, but I have a pretty good idea whom this lie serves: it serves the white conscience, which wants to see itself as having no moral blemish. By discrediting what they call CRT (but which is merely history), moral cowards hope to shut down honest discussion of, and honest information about, this country’s history.

So ignore the latest moral panic about CRT. Or, better, recognize it as the last gasp of white supremacy, seeking a blameless self-image and hoping to avoid any responsibility for racial inequality.

Reject that ignorant last gasp, accept the truths of our history, and don’t be afraid to take some responsibility for present-day injustice. We have to see ourselves clearly if we want to fulfill the promise of democracy.

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