Here is an excellent lesson in using the Stop portion of Stop, Drop and Roll: to identify what is being said, what frames our opponent is using, and, importantly, what the real issue is.
After four hundred years since our nation’s original sin of slavery, the forces aligned to perpetuate racism have opened a new front —what appears to be an assault on the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools.
I say “appears” above because, despite appearances, the GOP’s attack on Critical Race Theory has nothing to do with a debate over it’s merits. CRT is just the latest word or phrase Republicans have chosen to diminish attempts to do anything about racism in the US. Essentially they are creating a controversy over CRT, like the “controversy” around non-existent voter fraud for their political benefit by scaring their base with a bonus of delegitimizing black scholarship. The frames are invalidity and danger.
The Real Issue
The real issue is not whether Critical Race Theory has merit or not; Republican strategists are not interested in that debate. The real issue is that the GOP, by hiding Black history from school children effectively erases it it (when did you find out about Tulsa?).
It all comes down to how we know things. Republicans are afraid of knowledge —or rather they are keenly aware of the power of knowledge; if people unerstand the world through knowledge and reason, they’d question what the GOP is telling them, and that, apparently, cannot be allowed to stand. An endless stream of misinformation, false controversy and conspiracy theories keep some voters righteously indignant about things they know nothing about and voting for Republicans. This is not new. You’d be hard pressed to find a time in history where dangerous “leaders” didn’t want control what people believe.
How do we respond?
First, don’t take the bait. Don’t argue about whether CRT is good or bad or whether it’s actually being taught or not. That’s exactly what they want: to shift the discussion from the real issue of racism inherent in the GOP, to blaming the victims. Second, get out of “response mode” and be proactive and vocal about why studying Black history, CRT and otherwise, is important to ending racism and why we care.
Here is some impassioned and spot-on messaging (it’s well worth the watch!): https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2021/06/23/general-mark-milley-critical-race-theory-matt-gaetz-vpx.cnn
(Note, Gen. Milley’s reference to Green Berets references an earlier part of the testimony and does not refer to Matt Gaetz.)