Right-wing lies kill people…
People will get mad at you for speaking the truth rather than being mad at the people who lied. Anonymous
Truth is not a popularity contest…
Republican right-wingers are spreading lies to keep gullible followers in a state of frenzied racist anger and to raise money. The foundational lie they rely on is that Donald Trump really won the 2020 election. Although it has been disproven repeatedly, a majority of Republicans believe that lie. But regardless of how many people believe it, a lie is still a lie. Truth is not a popularity contest.
The Republicans’ flavor-of-the-month lie is that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is being taught in elementary, middle-, and high schools. Conceived in the 1970s and 1980s by lawyers, activists and legal scholars, Critical Race Theory seeks to understand racism and inequality in the United States by exploring and exposing the ways racism shows up as an ordinary part of everyday life. The top American Indian CRT scholar in the country, Robert Williams (Regents Professor, The University of Arizona Rogers College of Law), notes that CRT is a broad collection of ideas about systemic bias and privilege. It holds that racism is ingrained in American history and appears in big and small facets of life.
Critical Race Theory is taught at the law school and graduate school level. There is not a single elementary, middle-, or high school in the U.S. that has CRT as part of its curriculum. None. Teaching CRT in elementary schools is akin to teaching Calculus to third-graders.
Shamefully, my home state, Arizona, is part of the CRT lie campaign. In July, 2021, AZ Governor Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2906, officially banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Arizona public schools. But there’s nothing to ban. Critical Race Theory is not taught in any elementary, middle-, or high school in Arizona.
The Arizona CRT lie campaign is reminiscent of the 2010 law that made teaching Mexican American Studies illegal. That racist campaign rested on the lie that teaching Mexican American history is “un-American” and advocates the overthrow of the U.S. government.
Only an evil, warped mind can deduce that the outstanding military history of Mexican Americans is “un-American” and purports to “overthrow the U.S. government.” Some snippets of that history:
* About 750,000 Mexican Americans served in the military during World War II, and hundreds of thousands served in World War I, Korea, and Vietnam.
* Mexican Americans/Latinos have earned more Congressional Medals of Honor (60) and other military wartime decorations than any other ethnic group in the U.S.
* Mexican American women worked in the factories, manufacturing ammunition, etc., during WW II and helped win the war. Groups such as Tucson’s Asociación de Madres y Esposas sold $1million worth of war bonds and war stamps, and they collected scrap metal to sell and picked cotton in Marana, donating the proceeds to the war effort.
Former Arizona Superintendent of Instruction Tom Horne, who originally banned Mexican American Studies, is currently running for his old job on a platform that boils down to: I stopped Mexican American Studies while I was in office, and if elected, I’ll stop Critical Race Theory.
Let’s get out the racism bullhorn…
Mimicking Trump’s tirade in 2020 against diversity training by federal agencies – which he mischaracterized as “critical race theory” – Republican legislators in 24 states have introduced bills banning CRT from being taught in state schools, knowing full well that CRT is not being taught in the schools of any of those states.
In the recent Virginia Govenor’s race the Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin promised he would ban CRT in the schools “on day one” of his administration. Youngkin knows that CRT is not taught in any Virginia school. He lied to appeal to white voters’ racism. This was not a racism dog whistle – it was a racism bullhorn!
Republican CRT critics have no idea what CRT is. In the short term, they are driven by fear of losing power, influence, and privilege. On a broader level, the CRT lie campaign seeks to hide the truth about American history.
But history is history is history…
While people can ignore history, they cannot eradicate it, they cannot change it. History is history is history. For example:
* The inhumane, evil institution of slavery of black people existed in the U.S., and slavery sustained the economy of the southern states.
* The U.S. Civil War was fought because white people in the southern states wanted to preserve slavery.
* U.S. President Andrew Jackson championed the Indian Removal Act and oversaw the “The Trail of Tears,” during which over 51,000 American Indians were torn from their homes and forced to march, under horrendous conditions, over 1,000 miles to Oklahoma. Over 15,500 perished in this murderous march.
* Between 1869 and the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of Native American children were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to boarding schools. The boarding schools systematically stripped away tribal culture, changing the Indian youths’ names, forbidding the speaking of native languages, etc. Many children never returned home and their fates have yet to be accounted for by the U.S. government.
* The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was steeped in fears about Chinese workers bringing disease to the United States. Falsely blaming Chinese people for a local smallpox epidemic and an outbreak of the bubonic plague, in 1900 San Francisco authorities surrounded Chinatown with barbed wire.
* In 1921, mobs of white residents—with the tacit approval of city officials – attacked black residents and destroyed homes and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Scores of black people were killed and more than 800 were hospitalized.
* In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the U.S. deported as many as 1.8 million people of Mexican descent, a large majority of whom were U.S. citizens because they were perceived to be “outsiders” who were taking white Americans’ jobs.
* Between 1942 and 1945 approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans – two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens – were forcibly relocated and incarcerated in concentration camps for the “crime” of being of Japanese descent.
* Up through the 1960s, hundreds of blacks and people of Mexican and Chinese descent and American Indians were hanged by lynch mobs – with the full approval and support of law enforcement and elected officials – for “crimes” such as making eye contact with a white woman or speaking to white people with less respect than what white people believed they were owed.
* In the south, in the Jim Crow era, people were murdered because they were registering blacks to vote, and black children in church were murdered because their parents registered to vote.
The above is merely a sampling of race-related aspects of U.S. history. They were not isolated incidents. They had broad policy implications. No matter how many conniptions the right-wingers have, the above examples remain bona fide, documented, truth-based American history. And at last check, since the inception of public education in 1870, American history has been a part of the core curriculum of American schools.
Political lies are dangerous and can kill people…
What’s going on is not about harmless fibs. Far-right political lies these days are dangerous and have led to the killing of people. For example:
Donald Trump lied to the American public about the Covid-19 virus and hundreds of thousands of people died.
Trump lied about a “Mexican invasion,” and a gunman set out to kill Mexicans in El Paso to stop the “invasion,” killing 26 people.
Acting on the lie that the U.S. was being “invaded” by Central American caravans coming through Mexico, a gunman, believing a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA was helping the “invaders,” killed 11 worshipers at the synagogue and wounded six.
On January 6 of this year, hundreds of right-wingers, acting on Trump’s lie about a stolen election, participated in an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, as a result of which five people died and hundreds were injured.
Disgustingly, even as they were victimized by the insurrectionists, Republican members of Congress – with the exception of Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – are promulgating Trump’s election fraud lie and the CRT lie.
These are college-educated –some at elite schools like Princeton, Yale, and Harvard – people who know that there was no election fraud and that CRT is not taught in American schools. But in order to remain in power they jumped on the election fraud-CRT lie bandwagon. I don’t have the words to adequately describe this level of mendacity.
I fear killings are going to happen again. School board members, teachers, principals, and school administrators are receiving death threats based on the false accusation that CRT is being taught in their schools. It’s only a matter of time before some of those threats are acted on, resulting in the death of innocents.
We need to know where we’ve been…
Right-wingers are concerned that white kids might feel bad about their own heritage if they learn true American history. But to paraphrase Star Trek actor George Takei, who grew up in an internment camp:
We owe all children – of whatever ethnicity – the truth. We need to re-frame the current debate around truth. We can’t reform the horrors of the past by denying they happened.
Indeed, we need to know where we’ve been so as to know where we’re going. c/s