Henry Ford famously said, “History is more or less bunk.” Of course, he was a horrible, virulent racist who Hitler praised as an “inspiration” in Mein Kampf, so his sentiment makes a certain amount of sense. To racists, that is. After all, if you can ignore the long and dark history of antisemitism in Europe, you can whitewash pretty much anything.
And, as if to prove systemic racism is a real thing that absolutely should be taught to kids of all ages, Republicans are doing their level best to ignore it. In other words, they’re treating racism like it’s COVID-19, Jan. 6, or common decency.
The latest? According to a new Monmouth University poll, 43% of Republicans think the history of racism in America shouldn’t be taught in public schools at all, while a slim majority (54%) think it should be. This means any lessons on the history of racism, not just classroom instruction on critical race theory—which, to be fair, is taught in grade school about as often as superstring theory.
According to Insider:
In what it referred to as a “test of message framing,” Monmouth also polled voters on whether they approved of teaching critical race theory in public schools. Overall, 43% of voters supported teaching it, including 75% of Democrats, 16% of Republicans, and 40% of independents.
“The public acts on its perceptions of the world around them. Sometimes those perceptions align with objective reality and sometimes they do not. Whoever controls the message controls how the public will react. As the huge differences in the poll questions on teaching race show, a negative visceral message can be very powerful in reframing an issue in the public’s mind. The same is true for a massive spending bill as we saw with the talk of ‘death panels’ during the ACA (Obamacare) debate in 2010,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Of course, the “negative visceral message” Republicans have used to attack everything from Obamacare to police reform to the Build Back Better plan is that, somewhere, somehow, a Black person might benefit from these programs and reforms. So an honest look at our history scares the bejeezus out of Republicans. With the benefit of historical perspective, these little kiddos in school might come to the conclusion—on their own!—that Republicans and the plutocrats who succor them have been using race as a wedge to maintain the status quo for decades. Though, granted, they probably won’t figure that out until high school at the earliest.
This poll seemingly underscores how a significant portion of Republicans view opposition to critical race theory as part of a general desire to avoid discussions on the history of racism in America altogether.
Yup, as everyone knows, avoiding discussions of problems is the very best way to solve them. Though I’m not sure why these Republicans think their kids are such delicate little snowflakes. I survived watching Roots in 1977. I think kids can handle hearing about the Middle Passage, the KKK, Jim Crow, and the historic fight for civil rights. If it makes white kids feel a little queasy, imagine how Black kids must feel when they’re basically told none of this should matter.
Of course, Republicans being Republicans, they’re using these effed-up attitudes toward race as a cudgel to beat up on Democrats, who simply want an honest accounting of our history. Virginia’s governor-elect, Glenn Youngkin (wait, aren’t all elections automatically fraudulent now?), has vowed to ban critical race theory in Virginia schools. He might as well sign an executive order prohibiting chemistry 101 students from enriching uranium during open lab hours, but then common sense is sort of a hindrance when all you really care about is ginning up white grievance.
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