The Anti-Critical Race Theory Movement Advocates Censorship

(Transcript of cartoon.)

In a recent open thread, Fibi writes:

[David Goldberg’s article “The War on Critical Race Theory“] is a long, interesting, but ultimately unpersuasive article. It’s certainly true that many on the right (and the left) don’t map out the different nuances between CRT, “anti-racism,” “wholeness,” etc. That’s not surprising. But the Ur Text of the anti-CRT movement is President Trump’s now rescinded Executive Order banning CRT trainings with Federal contractors. It just so happens that I work for a Federal contractor and got pulled into a compliance review of our D&I trainings after the EO came out. And we barely changed anything. In fact, all of the slides, instructor notes, discussion questions, scenarios were fine. We just had to trim a couple of items from the Resources page (mostly eliminating websites and podcasts for fear that future changes or content would run afoul of the EO). So I certainly don’t agree that the anti-CRT movement calls into question “any mention of race or racism at all.”

I considered quoting Section 2 of the EO here. And while the EO is rescinded it’s basically word for word what’s in the new Florida law. But I think I will just leave the link where it is for those who are inclined to follow. Also, I’m not really weighing in on whether CRT trainings are better or worse than traditional D&I trainings. Just taking issue with the claim that they aren’t easily distinguishable and/or the anti-CRT movement isn’t distinguishing them.

So does the anti-CRT movement make the distinctions Fibi claims they do?

Fibi’s “compliance review” is one anecdote. Here’s another: After being threatened with budget cuts from the Republican-dominated state legislature, Boise State University suddenly suspended 55 courses mid-semester, screwing over hundreds of students, because someone claimed to have a video of a student in one class had been insulted for being white. The video never turned up, and an extensive investigation didn’t find any evidence that the event had ever happened. From FIRE (emphasis mine):

As FIRE previously reported, Boise State suspended all sections of its University Foundations 200 course on March 16, shortly after the state’s joint budget committee proposed a $409,000 cut in the university’s funding as part of lawmakers’ ongoing efforts to contain teaching and activities related to “social justice” and “critical race theory.” At the time, Boise State said it had “been made aware of a series of concerns, culminating in allegations that a student or students have been humiliated and degraded in class on our campus for their beliefs and values.”

This is absolutely a case of anti-“CRT” Republicans pressuring a university into censoring allegedly “CRT” views, without even a hint of distinguishing between “indoctrination” and just teaching about racism and social justice. Which is no surprise – Idaho Republicans are pretty open about wanting to eradicate views they don’t agree with.

Idaho Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin is working on putting together a task force to examine indoctrination in Idaho education and to protect our young people from the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism, and Marxism.

“As I have traveled around the state and spoken with constituents and parents, it has become clear to me that this is one of the most significant threats facing our society today. We must find where these insidious theories and philosophies are lurking and excise them from our education system,” Lt. Gov. McGeachin said.

By the way, the University’s attempt to prevent cuts by giving in to the GOP failed; the legislature voted to cut millions from public University budgets to “send a message” about CRT. These people are not being nuanced and careful about who they attack.

Another anecdote, this one directly about the Trump executive order:

Harper is involved with Arts In The Armed Forces (AITAF), a non-profit organization co-founded by Adam Driver that brings free arts programming to active-duty service members, veterans, and military support staff and their families. The actor and AITAF set up a screening of “Malcolm X” for military academies…

Three of the four academies scheduled for the “Malcolm X” event took part in the screening, but one academy did not “for fear of potential consequences of stemming from an Executive Order from the White House.” Harper concluded, “The fact that the film ‘Malcolm X’ could be considered ‘anti-American’ by this administration is very frightening to me.”

One important thing to keep in mind, with anti-CRT laws, is that the decisions will often be made by a principal who is being screamed at by the City’s lawyers to do whatever it takes to avoid even a chance of liability. Especially when the laws are full of ambiguous language, of course the result is some schools will ban anything anti-racist for fear that it might be the dreaded “CRT.”

And the language is ambiguous, in a way that would have given the Trump administration wide latitude to punish disfavored views if a court hadn’t enjoined from enforcing it. From the Urban League’s complaint against Trump’s executive order:

Under the terms of EO 13950, there is no objective way to determine which activities are permitted and which are prohibited, creating a broad chilling effect and inviting unpredictable, uneven, and potentially selective enforcement.

For example, EO 13950 prohibits employers from holding “workplace training” that “inculcates” certain “divisive concepts” in employees. EO 13950 § 4(a)(1). However, the Order never defines “workplace training,” which can occur in many contexts and for many reasons—such as an employee’s onboarding, part of the promotion process, ongoing professional education, or an effort to address workplace conduct issues.

In addition, the Order does not explain, or otherwise define, the prohibited act of “inculcat[ing].” There are no criteria in the Order for a federal contractor or subcontractor to understand whether training needs to reach a certain level of repetition, admonition, and insistence to be deemed to “inculcate” employees or whether, for example, a single training that references a so-called “divisive concept” is enough to trigger the Order.

Nor are the prohibited “divisive concepts” sufficiently defined. For example, the Order prohibits training that “inculcates” the concept that “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.” But there is no description of what “fundamentally” racist or sexist means. Under the Order’s prohibitions, it is unclear if explaining the historical context of race or gender inequality (e.g., discussing the Nation’s history of slavery, the Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Stonewall uprising, mass incarceration, pay equity or other topics related to racial injustice, gender discrimination or inequity) and the foundational ways this history shapes present-day manifestations of discrimination and biases, would be considered an assertion that the United States is “fundamentally” racist or sexist. […]

The Order’s prohibition on inculcating “discomfort, guilt, [and] anguish” is similarly inscrutable. The Order apparently prohibits training that includes the view that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.” However, the Order leaves unclear whether any training that leads to feelings of discomfort by virtue of the nature of the subject matter itself, rather than by “inculcation,” is prohibited.

The Order also prohibits the concept that “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist.” Purported objective measures of merit, such as workplace tests and evaluations, have been used historically to exclude qualified members of protected groups from employment opportunities. The Supreme Court has recognized that the disproportionate impact of these tools of purported meritocracy can undermine equality and fairness in the workplace and can, in fact, violate federal law…. Under the Order, a reasonable employer has no way of knowing whether a seemingly appropriate discussion about the interplay between purportedly “meritocratic” standards and discriminatory impact—even a faithful explanation of the law—may be prohibited “inculcation” of the view of “meritocracy” as “racist.”

The administration’s official guidance about the executive order made it plain that they intended the order to be read expansively, not narrowly.

On September 28, 2020, OMB published a Memorandum entitled “Ending Employee Trainings that Use Divisive Propaganda to Undermine the Principle of Fair and Equal Treatment for All” (“Memorandum”), which provided additional content to EO 13950’s directives. The Memorandum expanded on the Order by highlighting terms, such as “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” “intersectionality,” “systemic racism,” “positionality,” “racial humility,” and “unconscious bias,” as key to identifying the targeted “divisive” diversity training programs.

This Memorandum singled out specific terms and subject matter, such as critical race theory or white privilege, as targets of the Order even though they were not explicitly included in the definition of “divisive concepts” proscribed by the text of the Order. […]

The FAQs provide that “[u]nconscious or implicit bias training is prohibited to the extent it teaches or implies that an individual, by virtue of his or her race, sex, and/or national origin, is racist, sexist, oppressive, or biased, whether consciously or unconsciously.” The FAQs do not explain how a training may “imply” the prohibited concept; nor does it indicate who determines whether there has been such an implication.

So entire subjects are effectively banned. And what’s prohibited is not just the express statements of “divisive” ideas, but anything that, in the Trump administration’s subjective opinion, “implies” a prohibited concept.

Some of the state laws based on Trump’s EO are, remarkably, even worse. For instance, Texas’s anti-CRT law bans any course instruction that requires an “understanding” of the 1619 Project. So teachers aren’t just prohibited from forcing students to agree with the 1619 Project, as some of the law’s proponents claim; they’re effectively enforced from teaching about it at all. (Since it would be impossible to teach something while not trying to get students to understand it).

It also says that if any current controversy is taught, teachers must teach all sides “without giving deference to any one perspective.” That means that a science teacher can’t teach evolution unless they give equal weight to “intelligent design,” or deference to climate change science over denialism, without possibly bring legal consequences down on their school. (But it’s more likely they’ll be ordered not to teach such subjects at all.)

A pro-CRT-ban member of Utah’s board of education provided a list of terms that indicate CRT is in use. Terms on her list include “equity,” “anti-racism,” “systemic racism,” “social justice,” “diversity,” and “inclusion.” Again, imagine the decision being made by a principal while a district lawyer urges her to avoid anything that possibly could lead to liability – and they both have a copy of this list. The results would not be narrow or carefully controlled.

Trump’s executive order was attempted censorship, and so are the state laws based on it. And the anti-CRT movement is not making distinctions; they’re in effect defining “CRT” very broadly to include any left-wing anti-racism views.

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49 Responses to The Anti-Critical Race Theory Movement Advocates Censorship

  1. 1
    Polaris says:

    A truism of conflict; If a tactic can be used by you, then it can be used against you.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    When, exactly, has the left passed a whole bunch of legislation intended to use government powers to forbid right-wing views from being taught in school systems and universities that accept government grants (which is to say, virtually all of them)?

  3. 3
    Polaris says:

    Well yes, perhaps the outcome would be different if they would just try to cancel and harass those pro-CRT.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    It sounds like as long as you can say “there’s a sense in which the left does this too,” you’re happy for the right to pass censorship laws?

    It sucks that disproportionate online reactions that can intimidate people into silence (or worse) happens. I’ve criticized this coming from the left and from the right for years. But I don’t see how your approach is actually pro-free-speech; it seems purely partisan.

  5. 5
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    Well yes, perhaps the outcome would be different if they would just try to cancel and harass those pro-CRT.

    If the actions by the right at Boise State aren’t Cancellation(tm), then the term has no meaning.

    Polaris’ comments, though, are a perfect demonstration of my claim that “Cancel Culture(tm)” is just when right wingers are criticized for their bigotry and nothing more. When right wingers harass and cancel(tm) liberals, that’s not Cancel Culture(tm).

    Let’s stop taking their claims seriously and just point and left when they complain about being Cancelled(tm).

  6. 7
    Jacqueline Onassis Squid says:

    Those bills are effectively implementing their goals, though.

  7. 8
    Corso says:

    Amp @ 2

    When, exactly, has the left passed a whole bunch of legislation intended to use government powers to forbid right-wing views from being taught in school systems and universities that accept government grants (which is to say, virtually all of them)?

    It doesn’t happen. My impression is that that is because Republicans make up something like 6% of academic faculty, and their views aren’t likely to see a curriculum. That’s not going to be the case everywhere, but I would expect that facilities where Republicans have enough representation to effect the curriculum would tend to be in places with Republican governments that wouldn’t be in a rush to censor them.

    What Democrat organizations do though, is lobby against schools teaching things they find objectionable. It doesn’t take long to find examples of LBGT lobbyists petitioning for the government to withhold accreditation to one school or another over non-discrimination policies. And while that hasn’t happened yet (to my knowledge), and while I think that they have an easier path to draw lines between Christian teachings and discrimination, I think that lines could, depending on the specific class, be drawn between CRT and discrimination, and the *exact* same structures that could be used against one could be used against the other.

    To the “cancel culture” angle on CRT… I’m torn.

    Critical Race Theory has a point where it’s reasonable. It’s not a bad idea to critically examine laws and try to determine whether the laws actually serve the people they apply to, or are acting as racially disproportionate, revenue generating mechanisms for the state. In fact, I’d argue that doing so is necessary.

    That’s going to ruffle Republican feathers, this is something I deeply disagree with American Conservatism on: There’s this… Je ne sais quoi…. Maybe ethos? Surrounding crime in America, as if it’s their holy duty to put as many people into jail and treat them as horribly as humanly possible. Even were America’s laws functioning properly (and they aren’t), the number of things people get thrown in prison for, and the amount of time the get thrown in for offends my sensibilities. My sensibilities aren’t dispositive, but I have them.

    All that said. It doesn’t take too much effort to find examples of students being taught CRT in a way that overreaches what CRT was supposed to be, and in a way that leaves them believing things that aren’t true, and damaging them as adults. I also constantly struggle to find the connection between the theory as it’s being taught and the stated goals of the people forwarding the theory. I’m not the only one, and the first discrimination lawsuit against a school sticking to their guns on CRT is underway now, Clark v. State Public Charter School Authority, and while it’s not in Nevada, and while it hasn’t been judged, I’d recommend that everyone read the complaint, because I found it infuriating, and unacceptable.

    Legally, I think they have a strong case. The school said that “Democracy Prep does not give Ds. We are aware that the lowest grade most colleges and universities will accept for entry is a C-. Because our mission is to send every DPPS scholar to the best colleges and universities, we align our grading practices with these standards.” Which is mindboggling on it’s own, but in the case of William Clark, they gave him a D- in sociology and failed him because he didn’t want to take part in exercises where he, a half black son of a widow, working 35 hours a week on top of his schooling to help out at home, was supposed to identify himself as a white oppressor because his skin tone was lighter than that of his classmates.

    And so, while the law was in Oklahoma, was vague as a feature and not a bug, and while I would have preferred that syllabuses come from the school and not the legislature, if school faculties aren’t going to regulate themselves, then maybe the legislature needs to. While the parallels aren’t perfect, we don’t teach children the Flat Earth Theory in school, and if it were, I wouldn’t complain that flat-earthers were being cancelled if their beliefs were being legislatively withheld from education, particularly at the K-12 level. And I’m not sorry that the Oklahoma K-12 students won’t be wasting their summers in classes that school faculties thought might run counter to legislation that explicitly bans causing “discomfort, guilt, anguish or psychological distress” to students on the basis of race.

  8. 9
    Ampersand says:

    Corso, the Oklahoma example I posted was about college, not k-12.

  9. 10
    Corso says:

    Sorry Amp, maybe I’m confused.

    My understanding of the law, and your link agrees, is that the law was explicitly for K-12 education, it also identified the teacher as a “high school and community college teacher” and that the bill “has caused her to lose a class she was supposed to teach this summer at Oklahoma City Community College.”

    I assumed that while the class was going to be offered at the college, it was going to be offered to K-12 students, because the alternative doesn’t make sense… Nothing in that law would prevent a college from holding that class for college aged students.

    The alternative is that the college nuked the class out of a wild overabundance of caution?

  10. 11
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Corso @10 – I cannot read the link Amp posted because it’s blocked from my region. But if you go to the Oklahoma legislature website, and search for the bill (HB 1775), the final version requires both the state board for Education (which sets K-12 curriciulum) AND the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, which is the body that controls all the state-run colleges and universities in Oklahoma, to implement the same restrictions in their institutions. So it applies to both K-12 and higher education.

  11. 12
    Corso says:

    Well…. Here’s a link for the final text of HB1775:

    https://legiscan.com/OK/text/HB1775/id/2387002

    “A. 1. No enrolled student of an institution of higher education within The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education shall be required to engage in any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling; provided, voluntary counseling shall not be prohibited. Any orientation or requirement that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or a bias on the basis of race or sex shall be prohibited.”

    “B. The provisions of this subsection shall not prohibit the teaching of concepts that align to the Oklahoma Academic Standards.

    1. No teacher, administrator or other employee of a school district, charter school or virtual charter school shall require or make part of a course the following concepts:”

    (Emphasis mine)

    Now, I admit that I’m not educated in legal theory, nevermind American legal theory, but it seems to me that the law specifically considered and made a distinction between K-12 schools and higher education. For K-12 it was “Don’t teach this” and for higher education it was “Don’t require this”.

    It also doesn’t pass the sanity test: There’s going to be more than a single class in Oklahoma higher education that teaches CRT. If CRT was actually being banned in higher education starting July 1, 2021, there’d be more than just a single story about a single class being cancelled.

  12. 13
    Eytan Zweig says:

    You’re right, I misread the clause on higher education and it applied only to the first subsection, which targets mandatory training, and not to the second subsection, which applies broader restrictions to teaching about race in K-12 schools.

    However, based on further reading (mostly, a Washington Post article about this case), the issue is with this sentence, which does apply to colleges: “Any orientation or requirement that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or a bias on the basis of race or sex shall be prohibited.”

    Since the class in question was a requirement for some students doing sociology degrees, the college was worried it could be sued by students who would claim that it’s in violation of that clause. They could get around it by making the class optional, and maybe that’s what they’ll do in the future, but that’s still government interference with curriculum setting.

  13. 14
    Corso says:

    I personally would have made it voluntary, but to each their own. Maybe they thought if they made it voluntary, there wouldn’t be enough enrollment to run the course. As to that being government interference in curriculums…. Sure. Ok. And? Like I said above, if schools can’t self-regulate, maybe the government has to step in. I can’t think of a reason why CRT classes should be mandatory for a degree.

  14. 15
    Eytan Zweig says:

    That’s a possible workaround for that particular class. It doesn’t change the fact that the state government is telling universities what they are allowed to require their students to learn. You can argue about whether that’s ever appropriate, and you can argue about whether this particular restriction is justified or not, but you cannot argue it isn’t happening.

  15. 16
    Fibi says:

    The Oklahoma law (in particular the subsection on higher education) is one of the worst written of the anti-CRT measures. The law requires the Executive to promulgate implementation rules. Those rules will clarify what’s “mandatory.” But the law also declares an emergency and thus takes effect right away – before the final rules are promulgated. If the class is required to graduate, that’s probably “mandatory.” What if it’s required for a particular major? Not sure. How about if it’s just a module required to pass a non-mandatory class that is one option to fulfill a graduation requirement? Probably not, but I can see why an administrator wants to wait for the final rules. What if in theory you can substitute other classes, but they just aren’t offered this semester, or they are oversubscribed?

    For what it’s worth, it’s not clear what the reporters mean when they say the class was “required” for some people to graduate. The administration says all students will be able to satisfy their requirements another way, so it may just mean they had enrolled in this class to satisfy a requirement and needed to enroll in a substitute class after the normal enrollment deadline.

    I think the legislature really dropped the ball here. This is not the type of technical or scientific question that the Executive branch can better answer than the legislature. They should have been much more detailed (and, frankly, limited) in what this subsection applies to. In the alternative, they could have made the law effective with the Fall semester so that the final rules could be promulgated and colleges could know what the law meant.

  16. 17
    Görkem says:

    ” Like I said above, if schools can’t self-regulate, maybe the government has to step in.”

    Conservatives: ‘Government regulation should be the absolute last resort for social problems’

    Also conservatives: ‘A university lecturer said something I don’t like, better regulate’

  17. 18
    JaneDoh says:

    @Corso

    I can’t think of a reason why CRT classes should be mandatory for a degree.

    So you can’t imagine that some departments might require people getting a degree in a field like sociology to take a course in which CRT is discussed even though it is an important issue in their field today? I can’t imagine why a course covering CRT would be required for ALL students, but for a subset studying a relevant field, sure.

    The cancelled course Amp linked about is on race and ethnicity. Seems like CRT would be very relevant as a topic in such a course.

  18. 19
    Corso says:

    Gorkem…. Do you ever comment substantively, or do you just drive by with bumper stickers every now and again?

    The problem you’re having is that you’ve made up a fantasy reality where all conservatives think alike, where in reality we’re individuals with individual ideas that loosely bend in the same direction. Then you pretend that the individual conservatives are internally inconsistent because they don’t reconcile perfectly with other conservatives, or at least not the ones you count.

    That’s a you problem.

  19. 20
    Corso says:

    Jane @ 18

    I think describing it as an “Important Issue” is editorializing. Like Fibi said, most real world applications of diversity and inclusion continuing education courses weren’t effected by HB1775. It’s very possible to teach about racism and racial issues without critical race theory.

    More than that, what HB1775 made voluntary was very narrowly tailored:

    No enrolled student of an institution of higher education within The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education shall be required to engage in any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling; provided, voluntary counseling shall not be prohibited. Any orientation or requirement that presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or a bias on the basis of race or sex shall be prohibited.

    The law doesn’t actually ban CRT unless you think CRT requires racial or sexual stereotyping. If you can’t design a course that teaches CRT without resorting to racial or sexual stereotypes, then no, I don’t think it should be mandatory.

  20. 21
    Fibi says:

    For the record I don’t think I ever said that “most real world diversity and inclusion initiatives” aren’t effected by these laws. Many aren’t, or at least not substantially so. But I have no idea if it’s most or not. I suspect there is a substantial and growing minority that are effected*, and it could indeed be a majority. After all, if no trainings like this ever happened there probably wouldn’t have been any momentum to pass a law against it (probably, politics and politicians can be pretty foolish sometimes).

    Back to the OP, I was familiar with the Urban Institute lawsuit when we did our compliance review. It’s pretty customary to do contingency planning and so we were reviewing our trainings in case the EO went into effect**. At the time the court had not issued a reasoned opinion (so far as I know it still hasn’t). So we didn’t know whether it was the lack of clarity as to what constitutes a “training” or one of the other issues that was the basis for the injunction. But my impression was that lawyers thought the injunction might not be long for the world. Regardless. I was just looking at materials that were clearly trainings and determining whether they might be in violation of the EO. And even though we took a very risk averse approach there just wasn’t much that came close to being an issue.

    In retrospect, had I known that Amp was going to put my comment on the front page I probably wouldn’t have said that anti-CRT can be “easily distinguished” from other D&I because there are undoubtedly some borderline cases (how far can you go before you are ‘inculcating.’) But I still don’t believe it’s a movement that aims to “call into question any mention of race or racism at all.” So a more apt phrasing would be that there are a lot of discussions of race and racism that are easily distinguished from the discussions that the anti-CRT movement targets, some borderline cases, and some speech that the laws restrict intentionally.

    * I have no idea if ‘effected’ or ‘affected’ is the right word – I could never get that one, so I’m just going to go with Corso and use ‘effected’

    ** I’m actually pretty sure this one is ‘effect’

  21. 22
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks for the correction on high school/college; I stand corrected.

    Which is mindboggling on it’s own, but in the case of William Clark, they gave him a D- in sociology and failed him because he didn’t want to take part in exercises where he, a half black son of a widow, working 35 hours a week on top of his schooling to help out at home, was supposed to identify himself as a white oppressor because his skin tone was lighter than that of his classmates.

    You make it sound like he completed the course requirements but, because he didn’t affirm that he’s a “white oppressor,” he got a D-.

    You didn’t mention that he stopped attending class early in the trimester, after receiving an assignment he didn’t like (and his dislike was for legitimate reasons, unless more context changes things). He refused to attend class, do assignments, or to avail himself of the option of NOT self-identifying his race or other characteristics, which was explicitly offered to him. (He felt that he’d feel too conspicuous in class discussions of race because he would be the only white-appearing student there, even if he didn’t self-identify as anything.)

    He’s claiming that he was given a grade penalty for being white-looking, while non-white (looking) students in similar circumstances have been given better grades. But his lawyer was unable to name a single example of a non-white student who had stopped attending classes or doing assignments and who was nonetheless given a good grade.

    I do think he has a good first amendment claim regarding one assignment. (Unless more context, etc..) But I also think some of the claims he (or, really, his mom and lawyers) have made are exaggerated.

    (Gotta go do paying work, so I’m promising myself I won’t contribute to this discussion again tonight, sorry.)

  22. 23
    JaneDoh says:

    @Corso

    Given that critical race theory arose in academia to examine racism and its role in society beyond individual bigotry, I would say that it is important for a sociologist to know something about it. I would expect recent graduates in any field to be aware of important ideas in their field, especially now that it has moved into the mainstream.

    I used to be a US Fed, and we definitely had stupid diversity trainings, but we also had stupid “how to avoid being kidnapped trainings” too, so I think it is more about doing a crappy job with required trainings than anything specifically about diversity.

    I don’t know why CRT is suddenly a culture war thing, given that academics were using it like 30-40 years ago to analyze cultural and other systems in modern society (a close friend of mine is a sociologist so I asked her about it, since I had never heard of it. She was able to tell me something even though her specialty is health and medicine as I hope I am able to do for aspects of my field, even out of my area of specialty).

  23. 24
    Görkem says:

    “Do you ever comment substantively, or do you just drive by with bumper stickers every now and again?”

    Do you feel -your- comments are substantive? They are long, I will give you that, but they are effectively just conservative bumper stickers with a lot of rhetorical padding. I don’t get anything from them that I couldn’t get from watching Fox News for 10 minutes.

    I assure you, I have no problem understanding the diversity of conservative thought. But I think it is pretty clear that when I talk about “conservatives” in this context, I am not talking about Edmund Burke or Francis Fukuyama.

  24. 25
    Ampersand says:

    If you both could dial it down a couple of notches, I’d appreciate it. Thank you.

  25. 26
    Corso says:

    Amp @ 22

    You didn’t mention that he stopped attending class early in the trimester, after receiving an assignment he didn’t like (and his dislike was for legitimate reasons, unless more context changes things). He refused to attend class, do assignments, or to avail himself of the option of NOT self-identifying his race or other characteristics, which was explicitly offered to him. (He felt that he’d feel too conspicuous in class discussions of race because he would be the only white-appearing student there, even if he didn’t self-identify as anything.)

    From Paragraph 29:

    Plaintiff William Clark’s first graded assignment for the class worth 10pts required him to reveal his racial, sexual, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities and religious identities. Plaintiff William Clark was required to submit his race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities “if any” in a homework assignment due by September 21 and which was “graded for completion” for a total of 20pts.

    “Hello my wonderful social justice warriors!” Defendant Kathryn Bass greeted William Clark and his class on or about September 8th of this year. Ms. Bass then requested each student to “label and identify” their gender, racial and religious identities as part of “an independent reflection” exercise which was graded. The next step was to determine if “that part of your identity have privilege or oppression attached to it.” Privilege was defined as “the inherent belief in the inferiority of the oppressed group.” The teacher’s material stated who qualified as oppressors, and who in virtue of their gender and race harbored “inherent belief in the inferiority” of others. As a result, Kathryn Bass explicitly assigned moral attributes to pupils based on their race, gender, sexual orientation and religion. William Clark felt that if he had submitted to the terms of this exercise, he would have been in effect adopting and making public affirmations about his racial, sexual, gender identities and religious background that he believed to be false and which violated his moral convictions. He also did not wish to profess his identities on command in a non-private setting.

    A “vocab reminder” visual graphic from the same class instructed participants that “oppression” is “malicious or unjust treatment or exercise of power.” The lesson categorized certain racial and religious identities as inherently “oppressive,” singling these identities out in bold text, and instructed pupils including William Clark who fell into these categories to accept the label “oppressor” regardless of whether they disagreed with the pejorative characterization of their heritage, convictions and identities. The familial, racial, sexual, and religious identities that were officially singled out and characterized as “oppressive” were predetermined by Defendants’ class material from the outset, highlighted as such in bold text, antecedent to any discussion between student and teacher. Plaintiff William Clark could not bring himself to accept or affirm these labels, which he conscientiously believed were calumny against his self-identity and his family. What William Clark refused to do was to submit to racial, sexual, and religious labeling exercises carried out in a non-private setting which was coercive in its very nature and trafficked in intimate personal matters that are outside the legitimate scope of state-funded and controlled public education.

    After Defendant Kathryn Bass directed William Clark and his fellows to “label and identify” their various identities, and place them in the designated oppressive” categories, the next step was to “breakout” into groups to discuss with other pupils, asking and answering accusatory personal questions, including “Were you surprised with the amount of privilege or oppression that you have attached to your identities” and “How did this activity make you feel.” Those students who did not “feel comfortable or safe enough to do so,” presumably those whose identities were oppressive, were permitted to refrain from divulging the information to other students in their group, Defendant Kathryn. Bass assured them. However, discomfort was not relieved by Kathryn Bass’ offered dispensation, according to William Clark. The pre-set structure of the class ensured that any pupil of a certain perceived race, gender or sex who declined to participate only highlighted his status as an “oppressor” who harbored inherent “privilege.” Pupils remained visible to one another in the classes that were virtual, defendant Kimberly Wall said, their faces stacked around the teacher “like the opening credits of the Brady Bunch,” as Ms. Wall would later describe it to Plaintiffs. Defendants’ class presentation also stated that denial of these identity characterizations amounts to unjust privilege “expressed as denial.” Defendants’ class exercises forced upon William Clark a deliberately designed, psychologically abusive dilemma: participate in the exercise in violation of his conscience and be branded with a pejorative label; or conscientiously refrain from participation, and suffer isolation from his classmates and be maligned by the same labeling regardless.

    The official, derogatory labeling included in the DPPS/DPAC curriculum programming was not only based upon invidious racial distinctions, but also upon the basis of religious, sexual, and gender discrimination. In addition to the “white” racial identity, Defendants singled and assigned inherent moral attributes to pupils who fell into male, heterosexual gender/sex identities and Christian religious categories, calling them intrinsically oppressive, the materials defining “oppression” as “malicious or unjust” and “wrong.” Plaintiff William Clark was compelled to participate in public professions of his racial religious, sexual, and gender identities, and would be labeled as an “oppressor” on these bases by Defendants. Plaintiff William Clark was obliged to profess himself complicit in “internalized privilege [which] includes acceptance of a belief in the inherent inferiority of the [corresponding] oppressed group” as well as supporting “the inherent superiority or normalcy of one’s own privileged group.” As a male, William Clark’s identities were “malicious and unjust” and “wrong” whether or not he was conscious of these alleged facts, and whether or not he was personally responsible for any acts or omissions. By professing his sexuality at the teacher’s command, William Clark would in effect be submitting to these derogatory labels. William Clark and his fellow students were instructed that any denial of these characterizations itself amounts to unjust privilege “expressed as denial”. Plaintiff William Clark’s female teacher instructed him that only members of the male sex were capable of committing “real life interpersonal oppression”, because “interpersonal sexism is what men to do women”. This was not descriptive instruction, but compulsory, graded normative exercises in which Plaintiff William Clark was required to participate.

    Paragrpah 39:

    With green eyes and blondish hair, Plaintiff William Clark is generally regarded as white by his peers, and despite having a black mother, is so light skinned that he is usually presumed “white” by all others. He is the only apparent white boy in his class, in fact, and is regularly reminded of it.

    And from Paragraph 49:

    Perhaps sensing that litigation might be looming, DPAC Principal and Executive Director Adam Johnson on October 19, 2020 moderated his position: he wrote that Plaintiff William Clark could not go and not do the assigned work if he chooses, and fail and be ineligible for graduation. Or he could complete a “minimum” of the exercises and assignments, and then receive a grade of a C minus, the school’s lowest passing grade, which might disqualify him from being considered for admission to his preferred colleges of NYU and Berkeley School of Music, but at least it would not be a failing grade. Or William could participate fully in the “Sociology of Change” class, pass with flying colors and face no grade penalization.

    I think your characterization doesn’t see the forest for the trees. He *explicitly* wasn’t given the option to opt-out of self-identifying his characteristics, that was given as an assignment and graded for completion. He was allowed to opt out of doing so publicly, but was then shamed for it when the instructor told the class that “any denial of these characterizations itself amounts to unjust privilege “expressed as denial””

    I said “exercises”, plural, and those exercises didn’t exist in a vacuum. The question was whether or not this was discriminatory and/or abusive. And if it was, then his attendance afterward seems like a red herring to me. If you want to say that I didn’t mention that he didn’t attend his classes after that abuse, then sure, but that functionally changes what I said to: “they gave him a failing grade in sociology because he removed himself from an environment of discrimination, harassment and abuse”.

    The fact is that the school stuck to their guns, and gave William the option to return to class, with grades determined by how much of his own abuse he’d like to participate in.

    That’s obviously not acceptable, right? The attendance wasn’t the issue.

  26. 27
    Corso says:

    Jane @ 23

    I don’t know why CRT is suddenly a culture war thing, given that academics were using it like 30-40 years ago to analyze cultural and other systems in modern society.

    I think this nails it on the head. CRT is suddenly a culture war thing because it’s being co-opted and the portions of it that are at issue don’t bear much resemblance to the theory from the 80’s. Part of this is a failure on the right, we have a horrible time nuancing things like this, and more often than not choose to rail against bumper stickers than the parts of the things that are at issue. I think it’s partially laziness, and partially because conservatives, particularly American conservatives, are undereducated, and so while they know what they don’t like, they often lack the tools or language necessary to describe them. It’s easier to yell “Cancel Culture!” or “Critical Race Theory!” than to dig into what the issues are.

    Which is why I appreciate some of the tone of OK HB1775. It doesn’t, once, actually say the words “Critical Race Theory”. It lists actions and behaviors that are objectionable. In the current political climate, it acted like bait, and was always going to be controversial. But take a step back and look at that list, ask yourself if that list of objectionable actions and behaviors are what you think of when you think of Critical Race Theory. If it’s not, are we really talking about critical race theory? Are people upset over this law inadvertently carrying water for what amounts to child abuse because people are *calling* it Critical Race Theory?

  27. 28
    Ampersand says:

    Corso, did you read the transcript of the judge’s questioning on the temporary restraining order Clark asked for?

    The judge (without siding with either Clark or the charter school on the larger issues) ruled against Clark on several grounds, but one of them was that – other than either one or two papers – Clark’s team hadn’t provided evidence for most of those claims. (Clark’s lawyers also seemed much more modest in their claims before a judge than in the document you quote, but I think that may be normal behavior.) He (“he” iirc) said an evidentiary hearing is going to be necessary, at which both sides get a chance to present evidence and make their cases. (Maybe the judge was being unfair, but since the link you provided didn’t include any the exhibits, it’s hard to say. The judge didn’t come off as biased to me.)

    Yes, if we assume that what Clark’s lawyers said in this one-sided document is 100% true and takes nothing out of context and never skips any mitigating factors, then I agree, that’s all awful, and I’m on Clark’s side in this case. And I agree that’s possible.

    I’m not convinced we should do that based only on one side’s version, and before the trial. The lawsuit is supported by at least one extremist right-wing group, and some of what they initially asked for – for instance, that a retraction not just be issued publicly, but that the principal himself hand-deliver it – is on the crank side. (They walked that request back when the judge questioned them about it). And a lot of anti-woke outrages have turned into mist, exaggerations, or out of context quotes once evidence became available.

    Such as the accusations at Boise State University that FIRE wrote about. At first it sounded awful – a student was insulted and made to cry because they’re white! We have it on video! – but then it turned out to be nothing. Except it was a nothing that right-wingers leveraged to get 55 courses cancelled (and even when the cancellation was undone, the courses were much, much reduced) and to cut millions from BSU’s budget.

  28. 29
    Ampersand says:

    What Democrat organizations do though, is lobby against schools teaching things they find objectionable. It doesn’t take long to find examples of LBGT lobbyists petitioning for the government to withhold accreditation to one school or another over non-discrimination policies.

    As far as I can tell, the lawsuits and lobbying about from the left regarding accreditation are typically about things like not being fired for being gay, and not being pressured by schools to go into conversion therapy. Not about controlling the content of what’s taught in classes.

    Elizabeth Hunter says she became suicidal after Bob Jones University administrators grilled the former student about her sexuality for tweeting “happy Pride” and writing a book with lesbian characters. She was fined, sent to anti-gay counseling and removed from her job at the campus TV station. Veronica Penales says she’s told officials at Baylor University, where she is a sophomore, that people leave anti-gay notes on her door, but they don’t investigate. Lucas Wilson said he graduated from Liberty University with “a profound sense of shame” after being encouraged to go to conversion therapy.

    The three are among 33 current and past students at federally funded Christian colleges and universities cited in a federal lawsuit filed Monday against the U.S. Department of Education. The suit says the religious exemption the schools are given that allow them to have discriminatory policies is unconstitutional because they receive government funding. The class-action suit, filed by the nonprofit Religious Exemption Accountability Project, references 25 schools across the country.

    “The Plaintiffs seek safety and justice for themselves and for the countless sexual and gender minority students whose oppression, fueled by government funding, and unrestrained by government intervention, persists with injurious consequences to mind, body and soul,” reads the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon. “The Department’s inaction leaves students unprotected from the harms of conversion therapy, expulsion, denial of housing and healthcare, sexual and physical abuse and harassment, as well as the less visible, but no less damaging, consequences of institutionalized shame, fear, anxiety and loneliness.”

    Maybe that’s what you meant by “an easier path to draw lines between Christian teachings and discrimination”? I’m not sure what that means, but even with that acknowledgement, using this to argue that Democrats have done the same thing as the GOP has in passing laws to censor what schools teach is a false equivalence. Another false equivalence – the GOP is doing this as a party, with elected officials passing laws. Lobbyists and activists groups are not the same as the Democratic party.

    (There are also accreditation cases having to do with what’s taught in science. I haven’t looked into those, but they don’t seem to be what you’re talking about here, and depending on the details I can imagine that being justifiable.)

  29. 30
    Corso says:

    Amp @ 28

    This back and forth led me to look back into the case to check for new developments (There was a scheduled meeting for March in that transcript) and I believe that the parties settled and that the school agreed to expunge the grade and allow William to opt out of the course. He’ll have to make the credits up, but he’s on track to graduate.

    That’s great news for him, he basically got everything that he was looking for. It would have been nice if this had gone to trial and set precedents, but I think that’s a real steep ask for someone who is most interested in just getting into college.

  30. 31
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks, Corso. I’m sorry for us, in that I would have liked them to not settle at least until after an evidentiary hearing took place, because it would be nice to have more info.

    But this sounds like the best outcome for the parties, especially William (no teenager should be mired in an endless lawsuit). And pretty much what the judge was asking them to do.

  31. 32
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Corso, what are differences between the CRT of the 80s and the current commonly available version?

    Amp, some time ago, I remember you saying that, as an old labor leftie, you opposed threatening people’s jobs. Do I remember correctly? If so, do you still think that?

    A black woman who gets out of wokeness because it was wrecking her mental health.

  32. 33
    Ampersand says:

    1) It’s unlikely I’ve ever described myself as “an old labor leftie.”

    2) There are exceptions, but as a general rule, I oppose going after people’s jobs because of their off-the-job political speech. One of the best things we could do for free speech is get rid of at will employment.

    3) I don’t generally listen to political videos (not even those I agree with), especially if they’re more than three or four minutes long. Plus I don’t generally bother with anyone whose approach is “[political view I disagree with] is a cult/religion.” (Almost everyone, right or left, sometimes says that about their political opposition when talking amongst allies; but there’s a difference between shittalking and making an actual argument). For both those reasons, I’m not likely to watch that video.

  33. 34
    Corso says:

    Nancy @ 32

    Mostly in use. Let me give you an example outside of CRT, because this is kind of representative of the life-cycle of progressive theories;

    Privilege Theory has roots in the early 1900’s, but really picked up traction in the late 1980’s with the writings of Peggy McIntosh. Privilege Theory describes the idea that people have unearned benefits that they experience as a function of their profiles, and those profiles were myriad: race, gender, age, educational attainment, sexual preference, gender identity, physical ability, health… The list went on and on.

    And it’s true; Almost everyone has privilege on some axis, but it’s not constant, often because of intersectionality: A white man has privilege over a black man when it comes to interactions with the justice system, but a black woman has privilege over a white man in interactions with the justice system, because female privilege is often more pronounced than white privilege in that narrow situation.

    Part of the theory, a very large part, had to do with people’s rejection of the idea of privilege, and their defensive reaction to it. The expectation was that people wouldn’t think of themselves as privileged, they thought of themselves as normal, and that other people could be normal too, if those other people acted more like them…. Which doesn’t always have the benefit of being true. And so it’s not a bad exercise to go and think, Thanksgiving Dinner style, about all the bullshit that other people have to deal with that you personally don’t, and how thankful you are for that reality. Because, again, everyone has privilege.

    It’s hard to find traces of that self-reflective, empathy building theory, which I completely agree with in the actions of 2015-era progressives that mainstreamed it. Make no mistake, privilege theory focused on the privileges of white people and men, because white people and men on average do have more privilege, but it didn’t reject the idea of other people having privilege. It didn’t net-sum privilege out. It wasn’t supposed to silence people on account of their privilege, real or perceived. Ideas do not become magically better or worse merely as a function of the people that say them. And so the era of “check your privilege” activism came and went.

    These things, generally, share some similarities:

    – They have a base theory, and the base theory is not in and of itself bad.
    – The people using the theory, generally, particularly on the ground level, either have not read any source material on the subject or, if they have, they did not understand it. They seem very often sound like they know what they’re talking about, but in reality they just know enough to be dangerous.
    – They are, generally, fundamentally incapable of explaining the theory in a digestible way. It’s… weird… Some of the time, it feels almost like they’re purposefully explaining their ideas poorly, because I’d have a hard time imagining a worse presentation.
    -They ignore, or are not aware of, parts of the theory that do not confirm their pre-existing positions.
    -They wrap themselves up in the idea that they are more intelligent than the people they are communicating with, and “Educate yourself”, as an example, in there contexts is tragically ironic.
    -There’s a fight, because of course there is. The usual suspects line up and yell at eachother for a year or two.
    -The theory is discarded by the mainstream as soon as a shiney new toy is uncovered.

    When’s the last time you heard about privilege?

    The reason, I think, that CRT is unusually bad is because it’s broken the brain/blood barrier into primary and secondary education. College age-students are adults, at some point you have to cut the apron strings, allow exposure to ideas, even bad ones, and let people make decisions based on what makes sense to them. Mandating the indoctrination K-12 age children using theories with all the nuance of Twitter discourse is…. bad. And using my Nevada example; While I take Barry’s point in that we might have learned things during discovery that would mitigate the self-evident awfulness of the curriculum as presented, until we know more, that curriculum does appear to be self evidently awful. It was created by Kathryn Bass, a 23 year old educator directly out of college, approved by the school and the school division, and the administration stuck to their guns for nine months before (I think) realizing that their position was as least legally tenuous.

    Unlike other weaponized versions of good theories, which wear out because their proponents have the attention spans of kamikaze mayflies, I think that if we don’t apply scrutiny to these courses, and if we turn a blind eye to what I consider to be actual child abuse, it’s going to normalize. It we teach it to kids, it gets traction. We either need to add a whole lot of nuance, or wait until the students have the capacity to digest the theory as presented.

  34. 35
    Ampersand says:

    College age-students are adults, at some point you have to cut the apron strings, allow exposure to ideas, even bad ones, and let people make decisions based on what makes sense to them.

    Does this mean you disagree with anti-“CRT” laws that would apply to what colleges and universities teach?

  35. 36
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Very short version of the video: when she was believing in CRT, she was analyzing every interaction with white people on the assumption that anything that was off must be racism, and it was making her miserable. She didn’t consider the possibility that the white person might have been mildly not friendly because of having a bad day.

    She’s a Christian, and she asked God for help. She was told to forgive. It took her a year to forgive, but she’s much calmer and happier now.

  36. 37
    Corso says:

    Amp @ 35

    It pays to remember that HB1775 doesn’t say that Oklahoma Universities cannot teach Critical Race Theory, it said they cannot make activities that included the presentation of racial stereotypes mandatory. I can think of a couple of ways that could be improved and clarified, but this law doesn’t do what it’s been reported to do.

    If there *was* a law that straight-up banned teaching critical race theory in higher education, I would disagree with it.

    More generally, it would depend on what the law was. I don’t think there should be any topics that are banned in higher education, and I think that educators should be given a whole lot more leeway in the way those topics could be presented. But that’s not a suicide pact, and “allow” doesn’t mean “require”.

  37. 38
    Michael says:

    @Corso- I think that describing Critical Race Theory as child abuse is ridiculous. There’s plenty of philosophies that we teach to children that people who disagree with them consider dangerous- various religions, sex education, etc. But I wouldn’t consider teaching them child abuse. Ultimately, part of becoming an adult is learning how to synthesize what you were taught with your own personal beliefs to be a decent person. What kind of an adult you become is a CHOICE.
    In contrast, I do think that trigger warnings in schools need to be more tightly regulated. Why? Because it’s been known since the early ’90s that people with certain mental illnesses get MUCH worse if they avoid triggers. For example, if a person with OCD is afraid of committing suicide and they avoid reading a book because it contains a suicide scene, their fears of committing suicide will get much worse. That’s not a choice, it happens automatically. And the people with these conditions often don’t realize this for years and tend to be very pissed off that nobody told them. And the advocates for trigger warnings “forgot” to mention this until psychiatrists pointed this out. I’m not sure what the remedy should be, though- requiring workshops about OCD, PTSD, etc. in any school which allows trigger warnings?Including a warning with trigger warnings: “The Surgeon General has determined that avoiding triggers can be hazardous to your Health”?

  38. 39
    Ampersand says:

    Corso, this is not a post specifically and solely about Oklahoma (did my OP even mention OK?), and I wasn’t asking specifically and solely about Oklahoma. Yet your answers are always specifically and solely about Oklahoma. I know I made a single comment regarding Oklahoma, in which I made a mistake, but I didn’t intend that to mean that people should boil the entire issue down to Oklahoma and nothing else.

  39. 40
    Corso says:

    Amp @ 39

    Sorry, I pigeonhole sometimes.

    Looking past OK, my answer from the second and third paragraphs would still reflect my thoughts on the matter. And to be fair to you, I’m sure that before the year is over, there is going to be a law, somewhere, that actually does straight up ban CRT in higher education, and at that point, we’re going to agree that that’s unacceptable.

  40. 41
    Ampersand says:

    So it turns out that class that I thought was college, and then I accepted the correction that it was actually a high school class?

    It was a college class.

    This goes back to what I was saying in the OP. The exact language used in the bill matters. But so does the obvious hostility of the Republicans in power to teaching anything about race other than that racism is a solved problem and the Founders were saints. For at least this college (and, I would bet, many high schools), the concern is less “do our courses pass the letter of this new law?” than it is “could we get sued or otherwise get in trouble with this new law, even if we could in theory spend tens or hundreds of thousands defending ourselves in court and maybe eventually prevail”?

    And to be fair to you, I’m sure that before the year is over, there is going to be a law, somewhere, that actually does straight up ban CRT in higher education, and at that point, we’re going to agree that that’s unacceptable.

    How about when indirect and ambiguous language is used to create a chilling effect?

  41. 42
    Corso says:

    So it turns out that class that I thought was college, and then I accepted the correction that it was actually a high school class?

    It was a college class.

    That’s not the correction I was making though…

    What I said @ 10 was:

    Sorry Amp, maybe I’m confused.

    My understanding of the law, and your link agrees, is that the law was explicitly for K-12 education, it also identified the teacher as a “high school and community college teacher” and that the bill “has caused her to lose a class she was supposed to teach this summer at Oklahoma City Community College.”

    I assumed that while the class was going to be offered at the college, it was going to be offered to K-12 students, because the alternative doesn’t make sense… Nothing in that law would prevent a college from holding that class for college aged students.

    The alternative is that the college nuked the class out of a wild overabundance of caution?

    I fully stand by that. Literally nothing in HB1775 would prevent that course from existing, only from being required, and so cancelling that course did not make sense.

    But so does the obvious hostility of the Republicans in power to teaching anything about race other than that racism is a solved problem and the Founders were saints.

    I don’t see that as obvious. Don’t get me wrong, I see some of that, particularly the deification of the founders… But for the most part, Republicans were willing to allow D&I courses for decades. You have to ask yourself what changed. Things like the 1619 project, which is chalk full of historical inaccuracies and roundly lambasted by historians, are making it into curriculums. Pushing back against things like that isn’t “a rejection of any narrative other than racism is over”, it’s keeping lies out of the classroom. And don’t get me wrong, I get it, there are Republicans who want creationism taught in classrooms… I can walk and chew gum. I’d be OK with a law that kept creationism out of history classes too.

    For at least this college (and, I would bet, many high schools), the concern is less “do our courses pass the letter of this new law?” than it is “could we get sued or otherwise get in trouble with this new law, even if we could in theory spend tens or hundreds of thousands defending ourselves in court and maybe eventually prevail”?

    I wasn’t around at the time, what was your reaction to Obama’s April 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter?

    How about when indirect and ambiguous language is used to create a chilling effect?

    No. This is something that we’ll probably end up disagreeing on, and I’m sorry to bring HB1775 up again, but it’s a great example of why not: Cancelling that course was a disproportionate overreaction to the law, and regardless of how many administrators act poorly in reaction to a law, their actions aren’t a condemnation of the law, they’re a condemnation of the administrators. The laws are either good or bad in and of themselves.

    Edited to add:

    It struck me while re-reading this for typos that I find myself often being asked to view policy not on what the policy actually says or does, but by the intention of the people putting them forward. It’s rough because I don’t often don’t ascribe to the ideas associated with the position, but I’m asked to respond as if I did. I’m chewing on this now…. It’s an Americanism. I’ve never seen policy so obviously viewed through the lens of “what bad thing are my opponents trying to do today” and I’m struggling with whether it’s legitimate. It might be… I’ll think on it.

  42. 43
    Ampersand says:

    Most of this seems to be going round and round. But we haven’t talked about the 1619 Project yet, and it’s been in the news this week.

    Things like the 1619 project, which is chalk full of historical inaccuracies and roundly lambasted by historians, are making it into curriculums.

    It’s really not. There was a sentence or two which were hyperbolic, which were corrected. But it’s become right-wing orthodoxy that it’s full of errors – but that’s ideology, not facts. A week ago I asked Cathy Young to name such an error, and her example was saying that the Africans brought to the US in 1619 were indentured servants, not slaves – which is not true.

    I suspect that almost none of the people saying it’s chock full of errors have read anything more of the 1619 Project than the introductory essay. If that.

    And it’s true that some historians have lambasted the 1619 Project. It’s also true that other historians have praised it. This reflects, for the most part, some ongoing disagreements between different schools of historians. It’s unintentionally misleading to say “historians have lambasted” as if that represented some sort of professional consensus among historians, when it does not.

    Incidentally, Florida, as part of it’s anti-CRT push, last week banned the use of any 1619 Project materials by schools. They also banned Wrongthink about American history.

    Examples of theories that distort historical events and are inconsistent with State Board approved standards include the denial or minimization of the Holocaust, and the teaching of Critical Race Theory, meaning the theory that racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons. Instruction may not utilize material from the 1619 Project and may not define American history as something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence. Instruction must include the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and subsequent amendments.

    Do you consider this rule censorship?

  43. 44
    Corso says:

    Amp @ 43

    It’s really not. There was a sentence or two which were hyperbolic, which were corrected.

    I’ll get to some of the more factual issues later, but the 1619 project does exactly what you later call me out for:

    And it’s true that some historians have lambasted the 1619 Project. It’s also true that other historians have praised it. This reflects, for the most part, some ongoing disagreements between different schools of historians. It’s unintentionally misleading to say “historians have lambasted” as if that represented some sort of professional consensus among historians, when it does not.

    I suppose, perhaps to be more transparent, I could be more precise. That said… I’m not working for the New York Times, and my writings aren’t going to make it into classrooms.

    The 1619 project presents an intellectually stunted, if narratively thrilling, view of American history. You’re right, of course, most of what is in the 1619 project is not in and of itself false, but it’s notoriously incomplete. And the incompleteness is the point.

    https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/174140

    [The reader is] “presented with an image of Abraham Lincoln in 1862, informing a delegation of “five esteemed free black men” at the White House that, because black Americans were a “troublesome presence,” his solution was colonization — “to ship black people, once freed, to another country.””

    No mention, however, is made that the “troublesome presence” comment is Lincoln’s description in 1852 of the views of Henry Clay, or that colonization would be “sloughed off” by him (in John Hay’s diary) as a “barbarous humbug,” or that Lincoln would eventually be murdered by a white supremacist in 1865 after calling for black voting rights, or that this was the man whom Frederick Douglass described as “emphatically the black man’s president.”

    Nevermind the reality that in fact, freed slaves were not in actuality sent away.

    And as for straight up inaccuracies…. There sure were some, read the link for some more examples, but the first listed was this:

    For instance: The 1619 Project construes slavery as a capitalist venture, yet it fails to note how Southern slaveholders scorned capitalism as “a conglomeration of greasy mechanics, petty operators, small-fisted farmers, and moon-struck theorists.” Although the Project asserts that “New Orleans boasted a denser concentration of banking capital than New York City,” the phrase “banking capital” elides the reality that on the eve of the Civil War, New York possessed more banks (294) than the entire future Confederacy (208), and that Southern “banking capital” in 1858 amounted to less than 80% of that held by New York banks alone.”

    Amp @43

    Do you consider this rule censorship?

    Yes, I think it’s ham-handed. Like I said, most of the project is accurate, just incomplete. Removing everything in the 1619 project from schools would probably require the gutting of curriculums that came out before the 1619 project was written…. That’s not good. I think it’s an overreaction to a real problem though: I question the motivations of any administrator or educator, particularly in K-12, who would lift teaching material directly from the 1619 project. It’s skips the step of taking a black sharpie to a history book to take out all the portions not palatable to your preferred narrative because the 1619 Project was just written without them.

  44. 45
    Ampersand says:

    It turns out the Clark vs Nevada Charter Schools lawsuit hasn’t been settled. (According to Gabriella Clark.)

  45. 46
    paradoctor says:

    Acronyms tend to have several meanings. Whenever I see “CRT”, I think “cathode ray tube”. “BLM”, to me, is the Bureau of Land Management.

  46. 47
    Ampersand says:

    You quoted paragraphs of gish gallop, Corso. Is it really worth my time to respond to it, just because you took thirty seconds to cut and paste?

    Well, yes, it is. Because I’m too tired to work more tonight but not ready to go to sleep, and I enjoy looking things up, and this provides an occasional for me to look things up. For instance, I’ve never read Lincoln’s eulogy for Henry Clay before. (In fact, I still haven’t read it, but now I can at least say I’ve skimmed it and read a couple of passages.)

    Anyway:

    No mention, however, is made that the “troublesome presence” comment is Lincoln’s description in 1852 of the views of Henry Clay,

    A minute of googling is enough to show that Lincoln (speaking at Clay’s funeral) unambiguously endorsed Clays views on getting Blacks to leave. In fact, “endorsed” is kind of weak. Clay was known for many more things than his “colonization” idea – he had been a Senator, a congressman, Secretary of State, and helped start the Republican party. But Lincoln chose to end his eulogy with a full-throated endorsement of Clay’s “colonization” idea. Here’s Lincoln:

    The American Colonization Society was organized in 1816. Clay, though not its projector, was one of its earliest members; and he died, as for the many preceding years he had been, its President. It was one of the most cherished objects of his direct care and consideration; and the association of his name with it has probably been its very greatest collateral support. He considered it no demerit in the society, that it tended to relieve slave-holders from the troublesome presence of the free negroes; but this was far from being its whole merit in his estimation. In the same speech from which I have quoted he says: “There is a moral fitness in the idea of returning to Africa her children, whose ancestors have been torn from her by the ruthless hand of fraud and violence. Transplanted in a foreign land, they will carry back to their native soil the rich fruits of religion, civilization, law and liberty. May it not be one of the great designs of the Ruler of the universe, (whose ways are often inscrutable by short-sighted mortals,) thus to transform an original crime, into a signal blessing to that most unfortunate portion of the globe?” This suggestion of the possible ultimate redemption of the African race and African continent, was made twenty-five years ago. Every succeeding year has added strength to the hope of its realization. May it indeed be realized! Pharaoh’s country was cursed with plagues, and his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea for striving to retain a captive people who had already served them more than four hundred years. May like disasters never befall us! If as the friends of colonization hope, the present and coming generations of our countrymen shall by any means, succeed in freeing our land from the dangerous presence of slavery; and, at the same time, in restoring a captive people to their long-lost father-land, with bright prospects for the future; and this too, so gradually, that neither races nor individuals shall have suffered by the change, it will indeed be a glorious consummation. And if, to such a consummation, the efforts of Mr. Clay shall have contributed, it will be what he most ardently wished, and none of his labors will have been more valuable to his country and his kind.

    Short of claiming Lincoln was flat-out lying, there’s no way to take this but as Lincoln strongly endorsing Clay’s ideas on encouraging Black Americans to leave the U.S. and “colonize.”

    I guess you could argue that Lincoln – an extremely sophisticated writer – just didn’t think it was avoidable to praise Clays ideas on this issue fulsomely, given the occasion. But that’s not true. Lincoln had no choice but to praise Clay, but it would have been easy for Lincoln to do that without endorsing the colonization idea.

    or that colonization would be “sloughed off” by him (in John Hay’s diary) as a “barbarous humbug,”

    When I first read this, I assumed that Hay had attributed those words to Lincoln. But here’s what Hay wrote:

    “I am glad the President has sloughed off that idea of colonization. I have always thought it a hideous & barbarous humbug & the thievery of Pomeroy and Kock have about converted him to the same belief.

    Pomeroy and Kock were – as I understand it, and I could easily be getting this obscure stuff wrong – two proponents of colonization who were caught in a scandal which involved government money going missing. So yeah, that was not a week when the colonization movement looked good. But Lincoln apparently still pursued the colonization idea after this, so when Hay said Lincoln had sloughed off the idea, Hay was mistaken. (Or maybe Hay wasn’t mistaken but Lincoln later changed his mind back.)

    Here’s my source: Did Lincoln really "slough off" colonization? – Phillip W. Magness.

    or that Lincoln would eventually be murdered by a white supremacist in 1865 after calling for black voting rights,

    And this is relevant because….?

    Also, do you really think that Lincoln’s assassination isn’t something already taught in schools? And is not, in fact, common knowledge? What next, are you going to complain that they didn’t mention Lincoln being elected President?

    Nevermind the reality that in fact, freed slaves were not in actuality sent away.

    Common knowledge, which the essay alludes to (“The formerly enslaved did not take up Lincoln’s offer to abandon these lands…”).

    or that this was the man whom Frederick Douglass described as “emphatically the black man’s president.”

    That was Douglass’ public comment immediately after Lincoln’s assassination, so it’s not surprising that Douglass chose to emphasize Lincoln’s best qualities. (AFAIK Douglas didn’t use the occasion to endorse particular policy ideas fulsomely). In other statements, Douglass took a more balanced view of Lincoln – he admired some things about Lincoln, but also recognized that Lincoln was prejudiced against Blacks.

    I have said that President Lincoln was a white man, and shared the prejudices common to his countrymen towards the colored race. Looking back to his times and to the condition of his country, we are compelled to admit that this unfriendly feeling on his part may be safely set down as one element of his wonderful success in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict.”
    –Frederick Douglass, 1876

    The sheer dishonesty of quoting Douglass public statement immediately after Lincoln’s death as if it means Douglass would disagree with criticizing Lincoln’s views on race is stunning. Far, far worse dishonesty than anything the 1619 project did. (I don’t buy that it was an honest error – the only way it could be an honest error is if not one of the 12 historians signing that letter were aware of Douglass’ views on Lincoln.)

    As for “bank capital” versus “banks,” the paragraph that used “bank capital” was just establishing that there was a lot of wealth involved in owning slaves. I don’t think any historians deny this is so, and it’s only by taking it out of context that they can pretend an error was made. Here’s the quote from the 1619 Project essay:

    Slavery was undeniably a font of phenomenal wealth. By the eve of the Civil War, the Mississippi Valley was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Cotton grown and picked by enslaved workers was the nation’s most valuable export. The combined value of enslaved people exceeded that of all the railroads and factories in the nation. New Orleans boasted a denser concentration of banking capital than New York City.

    They never claimed that New Orleans had more banks, or even that it had more banking wealth. If I’m understanding them correctly – and I might not be – they’re saying that banking capital per capita was larger (“denser”) in New Orleans, not that it was larger in raw numbers, let alone in number of banks.

    Or maybe they were saying it was concentrated in fewer hands? I admit, I’m not 100% sure what they meant. The meaning of the phrase isn’t intuitive to me, and frankly I think it’s badly written.

    But two things I am sure about: 1) It’s intended as one of a list of items demonstrating the not at all controversial claim that slavery was a source of great wealth, and 2) they didn’t say anything which can be fairly interpreted as meaning “there were more banks in raw numbers in New Orleans than New York, and New Orleans had more total wealth” so pointing out that New York had more banks and was richer doesn’t demonstrate a “straight up inaccura[cy].”

    Finally, of course people who say they’re anti-capitalism – even if they mean it sincerely – can still participate in capitalism, through buying and selling things on a market. If I write and sell a book called “capitalism sucks,” and it’s a best-seller and now I’m rich, I’m participating and benefiting from capitalism, and no one would be wrong to suggest my career was part of a capitalist system.

    Are you seriously claiming that the slave markets were not in any way capitalism? The word “markets” is there because they were literal markets for buying and selling humans for profit. That’s part of capitalism as many people understand the term.

    Finally, yes, the 1619 project unambiguously is taking a view – which is that slavery is integral to understanding the history of the US, right from the start. But the school curriculum materials (which iirc don’t include either essay you’ve criticized) aren’t intended to be the only history students read. No one is suggesting that the few paragraphs about Lincoln you quoted a fantastically misleading critique of should be the only thing students ever read about Lincoln, for example.

  47. 48
    Ampersand says:

    By the way, this was Lincoln’s call for Black voting rights – an aside in a longer speech.

    It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers. Still the question is not whether the Louisiana government, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is, “Will it be wiser to take it as it is, and help to improve it; or to reject, and disperse it?” “Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining, or by discarding her new State government?”

    What Lincoln said here – the first and (as it turned out) only time he endorsed black voting rights publicly – is good in that it’s better than if Lincoln hadn’t endorsed voting rights at all. But the policy he called for was also racist.

    But why is it important to mention this at all? There were, what, three or four paragraphs on Lincoln? You can’t reasonably expect everything to be mentioned. And if she had mentioned this, but also pointed out the racism of limiting suffrage for Blacks only to “very intelligent” Blacks and union soldiers – that would just be another thing that 1619’s detractors would condemn her for mentioning.

  48. 49
    Celeste says:

    Nothing has convinced me of the accuracy and significance of the 1619 Project as thoroughly as the half-assed nonsense its critics invent to try to discredit it. If it was, in fact, as thoroughly inaccurate as conservatives claim, they wouldn’t feel compelled to reach for such weak-sauce BS.

    Acronyms tend to have several meanings. Whenever I see “CRT”, I think “cathode ray tube”. “BLM”, to me, is the Bureau of Land Management.

    It has been commented by more than one kinky psychiatrist of my acquaintance that “CBT” is perhaps not the best acronym to go throwing about willy-nilly.

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