Media Panics Over Mounting Opposition to Critical Race Theory

The opposition to Critical Race Theory, and most particularly its abusive implementation through race shaming and stoking racial tension, has been growing for a year or more.

CRT as a term burst onto the media landscape when ugly and abusive training session materials and accounts were leaked from campuses, government agencies, and corporations last year. The opposition is organic, but until the last few months has been disorganized. Relative to the CRT and BLM movements, embraced by corporate America to the tune of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, the opposition consists largely of parents who just aren’t going to take it anymore, and state legislators who jumped on a resistance train that already was moving down the tracks.

The best evidence that the resistance to CRT is gaining and posing a threat to Democrats is that the mainstream media is trying to marginalize and demonize the movement the way it attacked the Tea Party: Just a bunch of astroturfed racists. It wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now, but it’s the standard playbook.

Then, as now, the mainstream liberal media is leading the attack. Here are some of the headlines and approaches — “as if” they are reading from the same script.

The media attack is epitomized by an NBC News story today, Critical race theory battle invades school boards — with help from conservative groups:

It’s a movement that has amped up grassroots parental organizing around the country, bringing the lens and stakes of national politics — along with the playbook of seasoned GOP activists — to school boards….

Conflicts like this are playing out in cities and towns across the country, amid the rise of at least 165 local and national groups that aim to disrupt lessons on race and gender, according to an NBC News analysis of media reports and organizations’ promotional materials. Reinforced by conservative think tanks, law firms and activist parents, these groups have found allies in families frustrated over Covid-19 restrictions in schools and have weaponized the right’s opposition to critical race theory, turning it into a political rallying point.

While the efforts vary, they share strategies of disruption, publicity and mobilization. The groups swarm school board meetings, inundate districts with time-consuming public records requests and file lawsuits and federal complaints alleging discrimination against white students. They have become media darlings in conservative circles and made the debate over critical race theory a national issue….

Now, conservative activists are setting their sights on ousting as many school board members as they can, and local Republican Parties have vowed to help, viewing the revolt against critical race theory as akin to the tea party wave from a decade ago.

The “tea party wave” swept Republicans into taking back the House in 2010, and the Senate in 2014, and in many ways led to Trump in 2016. That’s why the media is so scared and leaping into action.

The NBC News article has a reference to Nicole Solas’s situation (it doesn’t mention her name):

In South Kingstown, Rhode Island, the parent of an incoming kindergartener submitted over 200 public records requests in two months, seeking copies of middle and high school curricula, lists of all books related to gender available in the library and 10 years worth of harassment complaints and emails. The district said it would take 300 hours to compile all of the records requested.

Timothy Ryan, executive director of the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association, called the onslaught of records requests an effort “to shut the system down.”

“I believe their intent is really to have the public lose confidence in public education,” he said. “There was the ‘war on Christmas,’ and now everybody is teaching critical race theory. I think you’d be hard pressed to find five people in the state who could even define that.”

In reality, the claim of an attempt to “shut down the system” is a fabrication, probably cut from the same cloth that caused the South Kingstown School Committee to hire a Public Relations firm to smear Nicole Solas and Parents Defending Education as “racist.” Same playbook as used against the Tea Party.

That NBC News story forms the basis for a WaPo story, The Scholar Strategy: How ‘critical race theory’ alarms could convert racial anxiety into political energy:

That phrase, “critical race theory,” has become detached from its original academic meaning, an intellectual movement that examines the way policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism. In popular usage now, it refers to a broad mélange of race-related curriculums, claims and anecdotes. The Atlantic last month noted recent polling found only 1 in 5 Americans said they had heard the term. Exploiting that uncertainty, there has been an effort on the right to use the phrase as something of a catchall for nearly any discussion of or focus on race that might trigger frustration….

But the political utility of the anti-CRT effort was obvious. A useful marker of the prominence of something in right-wing thought and conversations is how often it’s mentioned on Fox News. And in the past few months, Fox News has been talking about CRT far more than it used to and far more than its competitors. At the same time, the network is less likely to talk about “systemic racism.” …

There’s a pushback against that focus, which itself gets blanketed by the appropriated term “woke.” Efforts to teach children about racism, from the well-structured to the clumsily intentioned, are framed as dangerous or dishonest. White parents get ensnared in a tactical pincer — their race on one side, their children on the other — that may aid the Republican Party.

Media Matters is worried about the midterm elections, Fox News’ fearmongering about critical race theory is all about the midterm campaigns, and has it all figured out:

Critical race theory, to those who can actually define it, is an academic and legal framework that examines the impact of systemic racism on American society. For conservatives however, it’s the latest boogeyman they can use to scare people into thinking America’s children are being “indoctrinated” by “woke” leftist teachers. And while that is not even remotely the case, this idea is exploding on Fox News and in Republican-run state legislatures, leading to legislative bans in many states and skyrocketing mentions of critical race theory on the network….

As Media Matters has previously noted, Fox News’ current obsession with “critical race theory” has been a year in making. What once was a slow trickle of monthly mentions has developed into a full blown assault. Since February, month over month mentions of the theory have more than doubled on Fox News as the network has begun to spin an illusion of what it is and where it’s being taught (in reality, critical race theory is not generally taught in K-12). Coverage of the theory sharply increased in March, with 107 mentions on the network according to data from Kinetiq media monitoring service. The following month, network figures and guests mentioned it 226 times, and by May, the number had increased to 537 mentions. Not even halfway through June, there’s already been 408 mentions on the network.

Just last week, Fox mentioned “critical race theory” a record 244 times — an increase from the previous record high of 170 mentions the week before.

The New Republic concludes that The Specter of Critical Race Theory Is Rotting Republicans’ Brains:

The slipperiness of the right-wing version of “critical race theory” is the point: It is so loosely defined that almost anything of or pertaining to a conversation about race qualifies. In the conservative telling, critical race theory is a loosely defined but awesomely omnipresent phantasmogoric threat that’s infecting schools and institutions across the country. Anyone who speaks up against it is heralded as a hero, fighting on behalf of children who would otherwise be brainwashed into learning about racism and privilege.

And it goes on, and on, and on.

Critical Race Theory is hurting Democrats. You only need to read liberal media to understand that.


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