The GOP's bizarre obsession with 'critical race theory' has almost nothing to do with critical race theory
The right-wing media apparatus, which is global in scale, has lately been making a fetish of something called "critical race theory" (CRT). This has prompted academics to defend it. It's not a radical political ideology, they say. It's merely a form of critical inquiry. It is not the boogeyman it's being made out to be. There's nothing to fear.
I understand the need to defend critical race theory. Colleges and universities are beset on one hand by Republican fascists accusing scholars of indoctrinating students, on the other by anti-left liberals accusing the same of hostility toward freedom of speech. Meanwhile, administrations act more like corporations that privilege efficiency over research and teaching. It's enough to think CRT is an appropriate hill to die on.
This, however, overlooks the larger dynamic at work. The more you defend CRT as an ideologically neutral mode of seeing and thinking about the world, the more the propagandists are going to do what they do best, which is terrifying the ignorant. More importantly, CRT defenders are not seeing the true nature of their opponents. From the authoritarian perspective, modes of seeing and thinking about the world are never ideologically neutral because once you learn to see and think about the world on your own, you don't need authoritarian leaders to tell you what to see and think.
I risk making them seem like cartoons. I risk making people who treasure "traditional" and "conservative" and "Judeo-Christian" values look like they yippy-skippied over the Enlightenment on their way from the Spanish Inquisition to the 21st-century America. But it's worth the risk given that most respectable white people, in my opinion, tend to overestimate the societal effects of liberal arts education. Critical thinking is so uncontroversial among respectable white people as to be barely worth mentioning. The authoritarians, however, see it quite clearly for what it is—an existential threat.
This is why the particulars of critical race theory don't matter. (You don't care about the particulars when you're fighting for survival!) This is also why explaining those particulars to people who seem to fear them won't change their minds if you don't also take into account that explaining the particulars of critical race theory can itself be seen as intolerable aggression. What most of them fear is loss of social control. What most fear is loss of authority. Where you see an individual merely muddling through life the best she can, coming to the best conclusions she can, most of them see an individual whose ideological aggression is so monstrous as to justify any response.
Respectable white people look at the right-wing media apparatus, which is global in scale, and marvel at the fact that Americans consuming its propaganda inhabit a fact-free world. I think what they misunderstand is lying isn't a bug. It's a feature. Facts are available to individuals to see and think about on their own, free and independent of authorities licensed to say what individuals see and think. Facts, therefore, are aligned politically with perceived enemies. A rational response to facts is nonstop lying. So "alternate facts" are not a result of authoritarian politics. They are a first principle.
Critical race theory is not a political ideology, but it may as well be to the world of the right-wing media apparatus, which is global in scale. It might as well be because anything that teaches individuals to see and think about facts independent and free of groupthink compromises the integrity of the authoritarian's grip on the group. Case in point is Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney. The Republican believes the former president tried bringing down the republic. She is factually correct. For the "crime" of seeing and thinking about the world on her own, she's now being punished. The House Republicans are poised to purge her from the House conference leadership. The Republicans are not individualists. They are collectivists enforcing groupthink.
Respectable white people marvel at the fact that Americans consuming right-wing propaganda inhabit a fact-free world. As a consequence, they do not take it seriously. People who insist on inhabiting a fact-free world are not just ignorant—not when democracy depends on the ability of individuals to associate and organize themselves for the purpose of self-rule. When huge numbers of people inhabit a fact-free world, and collectivist leaders police the integrity of that groupthink, they threaten not only democracy's ability to function minimally, but its survival. Liz Cheney is now being reassimilated into the collective. Democracy itself faces the very same fate. Do not marvel at these people and their fact-free world. Regard them as the danger they are.
MSNBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell reports that the first stop on Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz's "America First" tour will be at The Villages, a retirement community in Sumpter County, Florida.
"What this essentially is, is a fundraising tour for their joint political committees for them to raise money," Caldwell said this Friday. "Marjorie Taylor Greene has proven that she's an excellent fundraiser, although she's spent a lot of money to actually raise those funds."
Caldwell says that the tour is designed to "highlight the Trump wing of the party."
"They are expected, of course, to show their loyalty to the former president, and they're expected to call out the members of the party who they think are not sufficiently loyal enough," she continued, citing a recent op-ed from Gaetz in a pro-Trump outlet where he calls GOP Senator Liz Cheney a "relic from the past."
Watch the segment below:
Newsmax personality Emerald Robinson embarrassed herself on Friday during the White House daily press briefing.
"Given the number of former Obama administration officials that are now in the Biden administration and the president's relatively light schedule, there's a growing perception that this is really just the third term of President Obama. What do you say to people who say that?" Robinson asked.
"Who were saying that?" press secretary Jen Psaki asked. "Who's saying that?"
"You've heard that a lot in the media," Robinson replied.
"Who in the media," Psaki asked.
"Different people," Robinson replied, clearly unable to provide a single example.
Jen Psaki shoots down an attempt by Emerald Robinson of Newsmax to get her to respond to a loaded “many people are… https://t.co/os33GXZmNc— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1620409618.0
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