It’s my birthday. Please punch a racist for me.

Now that I’ve got your attention, do me a favor and recognize that the headline to this story is hyperbolic sarcasm. Because if you punch a racist, you’re not getting the point of what’s going on in this country.

By now you’ve no doubt heard the artificially induced hue and cry over something called Critical Race Theory. With everything else that’s going on in the world, certain conservatives have decided that asking students to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes is Subversive. Or Marxist. Or a Hate Crime.

If you’re outraged that I’d even think of suggesting punching somebody, I call your attention to a sampling of what Republicans are doing.

    • In the Senate, where President Biden nominees must play nice with a known traitor Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri as he tries to play “got ya’ on what he thinks is subversive. Go look in a mirror, dude.
    • In statehouses around the country, the party of “local control” can’t get bills telling schools what to teach passed fast enough.
    • School board members around the country are facing recalls, thanks to induced rage coming via Fox News, which had 33 stories mentioning “race” in the first four hours of broadcasting on Thursday.

I can guarantee that none of those with their hair on fire over Critical Race Theory can even correctly define it, short of creating a word salad of fear-inducing buzzwords that have nothing to do with the topic.

I’m going to do readers a favor and not list any more of these claims, lest somebody take them seriously.

KKKUSI has been ginning up protests by a small group of parents and students worried that kids are going to be corrupted in local school systems. The justifications for their actions are, frankly, embarrassing. So I’m not going to embed any of that coverage, either.

The Republican war on “critical race theory” is not about actual Critical Race Theory. It’s about coming up with a term to use as a catch-all for “stuff we don’t like about race,” extending to the radical notion that racism is a real force in U.S. history and remains a force in the U.S. today.

Here’s Laura Clawson with the lowdown:

…Christopher Rufo—whose Fox News appearance ranting about the issue may have drawn Donald Trump’s personal attention to the issue—explained the plan behind all these state-level efforts to ban the teaching of an academic theory that isn’t even being taught in schools.

“We have successfully frozen their brand—‘critical race theory’—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category,” Rufo tweeted in March.

“The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”

A difference in definitions over what is racism is at the heart of all this. The right wing would like people to believe that individual acts are what racism is.

Critical Race Theory includes (but is not limited to) the notion of racism as a societal problem. It’s not radical if you are willing to admit that race being embedded in the law and our nation’s institutions is simply a historical fact.

Here’s a good explainer on Critical Race Theory from the American Bar Association.

A man using the “n” word or maybe openly refusing to hire somebody based on the color of their skin is racism to these righties. And now that lynchings and seperate bathrooms have gone out of fashion, we’re supposed to believe racism is as rare as a polar bear in the rainforests of Brazil.

Part of this has to do with an outlook on life that starts and ends with “me.” No consideration is to be given to what someone else perceives, especially if it challenges the notion of MAN at the top of the world’s pyramid.

The reason Critical Race Theory is coming to the fore is the metastasizing of the Great Replacement from far right circles to mainstream Republicanism.

The Great Replacement concept was popularized by French writer Renaud Camus in his 2012 book, Le Grand Remplacement (“The Great Replacement”), where he postulated that black and brown immigrants were reverse-colonizing native “white” Europeans.

People were shocked in 2017 when the far right riot in Charlottesville, Virginia featured torch carrying contingents chanting “Jews will not replace us,” which later morphed into “You will not replace us.”

Republicans, by virtue of their words and deeds in recent years, are appealing to an ever shrinking segment of the voting population, which is primarily white. So not being “replaced” makes perfect sense to them if they’re looking at the long term. And Lord Forbid that their kids get an unsanitized version of history.

Sociology Professor Victor Ray’s commentary about the Trump administration’s adoption of CRT as a boogeyman via the Washington Post is to the point:

There are good-faith critiques of critical race theory, and much debate among academics about the validity and usefulness of the framework. But the administration’s targeting of critical race theory draws on a hodgepodge of concepts — like diversity training and unconscious bias — that are similarly concerned with America’s continuing racial inequality.

A lot of scholarship critiques racial inequality, because in the reality-based community outside of the Trump administration, racism is a pressing social problem.

But not all of the scholarship concerned with racial inequality is critical race theory.
The administration’s shallow understanding conflates (and maligns) these ideas without considering their potential utility for solving entrenched social problems

For an administration whose support is grounded in White grievance, distinctions between ideas are apparently immaterial. Any research showing the depth and continuity of White anger is a threat.

And, yes, I’ll be 71 years old tomorrow. Ugh. How did I ever get so old?


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Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35-year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He’s won numerous awards for his columns from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.

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