The Shameless Exploitation of Critical Race Theory

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Once again, harkening back to the days of the Willie Horton ads used by the George H.W. Bush campaign for president in 1988, the GOP stands ready to use race, specifically critical race theory (CRT), as the new bogeyman in the 2022 mid-term elections.

Over the past several years, we’ve learned that the GOP will use social issues such as race, gay marriage, and transgender rights to piss off as many people as possible to win elections.

Rather than put forward a platform of ideas and policies that would benefit the American people, they’d rather divide and conquer. The party lacks any meaningful policy proposals, which was reflected in its 2020 convention. For the first time in memory, the party didn’t even bother to put forth a platform of any kind — instead basically reiterating the goals of their 2016 proclamation.

And while that proclamation reflected the usual GOP talking points including support for the 2nd Amendment, less regulation, and getting tough on immigration, the real reason for forgoing a platform in 2020 was easily explained.

The omission reflected the wishes of its de facto leader, Donald Trump. It didn’t matter what policies the party believed in because allegiance and loyalty to him mattered most.

As we fast approach the 2022 mid-term elections, Trump is not on the ballot, although his ideology, Trumpism, most certainly will be in some form or the other. Trump, himself, has endorsed several candidates in various state primaries, so we shall see how successful those endorsements will ultimately be in those races.

But indeed, the playbook of many of the GOP candidates in the fall will focus on societal issues, especially those that concern race. And why would a political party do something so divisive? Because it works. When people are riled up, and nothing like a bit of racial animus does that, they will come out and vote.

And nothing seems to galvanize their base more than does CRT. We saw it used to perfection in the Virginia Gubernatorial contest by Glenn Youngkin, who narrowly won.

The irony, of course, is that CRT is not taught in our public schools. Youngkin knew this, yet he managed to make his constituents think it was. Or, at the very least, that it’s sure to be taught eventually — if nothing is done.

It was all BS, but in our present atmosphere of massive disinformation and conspiracy theories, it doesn’t take much for a narrative to gain a foothold on a sizable group of the voting public.

And what exactly is CRT? What’s freaking out white people to the point that school board meetings are becoming unpleasant and even dangerous places to attend?

According to Reuters, CRT:

is an approach to studying U.S. policies and institutions that is most often taught in law schools. Its foundations date back to the 1970s when law professors began exploring how race and racism have shaped American law and society.

But what pushes the buttons of so many in the GOP base is this:

The theory rests on the premise that racial bias — intentional or not — is baked into U.S. laws and institutions.

For the most part, CRT wasn’t even a thing before 2020. What changed that was the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer and the subsequent protests and narrative about race that ensued in its aftermath.

Fox News and other right-wing outlets quickly began to use CRT as a talking point on their platforms. According to Media Matters, a left-leaning non-profit that tracks what Fox and the others are discussing, put out the following tweet in June 2021:

That particular tweet was nearly a year ago, and mentions of CRT have done nothing but gone up exponentially since then. When Fox wants their viewers angry about something, they know exactly what to do: Keep repeating it over and over, whether it’s true or not.

And the gist of it all — that which goes to the heart of why CRT is being used as a sledgehammer against Democrats is pretty basic. According to the GOP, the Left wants to make white people feel guilty about it all. If the horrors of slavery are taught to our kids, they will feel uncomfortable. Indeed, some legislatures have already introduced legislation banning discussions about discrimination in the nation’s past.

So rather than teach school children about slavery, reconstruction, and the Civil War, it’s far better to paper over things that show white people in a bad light. We shouldn’t talk about the lynchings, voter suppression, Jim Crow, or anything of the like. Because if we do, the resentment from people of color towards white people will worsen. And hurt their feelings in the process.

Again, though, CRT is not being taught in our schools. There’s no evidence reporting anything different. But Youngkin and the radical Right will pound it into the heads of the base regardless. And, unfortunately, many of them believe every word of it.

Democrats must be ready to respond. We’ll hear GOP candidates talking about parental rights and how they have every right to voice concerns over school curriculums. It’s not something Democrats can ignore — ask Youngkin’s opponent, Terry McCauliffe, how that worked out for him.

To be sure, inflation, COVID mandates, and our painful withdrawal from Afghanistan will be part of the equation for GOP candidates to use against Democrats in the fall. But let’s be honest, even those volatile subjects will pale in comparison to the emotional and visceral issue of race.

Many white Americans are in a dour mood these days, especially those who voted for Trump. Trump, for his part, ditched the dog whistle used by most GOP politicians before him and substituted that for the loudest megaphone he could find.

No longer did white folks need to tiptoe around what’s been bothering them since the Black guy won in 2008. Trump gave them the wink and nod they needed to magnify their grievances. No longer did they need to be silent. What’s the big deal about putting Confederate flags on pickups or paraded around the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th? Now, it’s like a badge of honor for many of them.

The GOP knows this and will do everything in their power to gaslight and stir up the masses. It’s what they do best, and since this is also an off-year election, traditionally a bad one for the party in the White House, Democrats will need to defend their seats rigorously.

It’s not clear whether they will be up for the challenge. Yes, the GOP smells blood in the water. And while they’ve shown no propensity to govern the country in any meaningful way in recent years, it does not matter. Because power is what they covet the most. So sowing the seeds of discontent and pitting Americans against one another remains their most potent and destructive tactic.

Please make no mistake; whether we like it or not, CRT will be coming to a political campaign near you in the fall. The real question is, how many unsuspecting folks are going to fall for it?


  1. Excellent post, my friend! You said it so well. The average person doesn’t even understand what CRT is, but yet enough will jump on the well-promoted racist bandwagon and make enough noise to get people’s attention and stir the pot. If white people bothered to take the time to do some reading, some research, perhaps they would look at the nation’s racist past and vow to do better than their ancestors did, but instead it’s easier to simply deny the facts … and the ignorant will believe whatever they are told. If there’s no systemic racism in this nation, then why are Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Medgar Evers, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others dead? I tire of this fight, and yet we cannot give up, for if this nation continues on its current path, it is a prime target for an autocratic government takeover.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jill! CRT requires a little research to understand what it is and why it’s such BS that GOP is using it like they always do: divide us so they can score cheap political points. Unfortunately, it works for them in many cases. I’m hoping that this year, they get their asses handed to them in the mid-terms. I know, right now it’s extremely wishful thinking. But, we have 9 months. I just hope Dems grow a spine between now and then Jill. Again, trying like hell to be optimistic!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Given that it is not now, nor has it ever been taught in pre-college classes, the entire argument is moot. But, the GOP has made it seem as if ANY lessons about slavery, Jim Crow, race wars, etc. are CRT. And they are determined to teach their little white babes only that white people are the good people. BAH HUMBUG!!! Stop the world — I wanna get off!!! Sigh. Yes, I’m still trying to find reasons for hope, for optimism, but … it’s hard these days, isn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. As I just responded to Brendan in comments, I think we ought to teach CRT in high school. The hell with tiptoeing around the subject. Kids, all of them, need to learn the truth at a young age. It can be taught in such a way as to not single out white kids. It won’t happen Jill because Dem politicians would be skewered beyond imagination for even suggesting it. What do you think, though? Hell, maybe this is an area for collaboration partner! I’ve been thinking about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I fully agree! If those who fear making children “uncomfortable” by learning the truth of our past have their way, then there is no hope for the future of the human experiment and we will almost certainly destroy ourselves from within.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. And YES!!! I would love to collaborate on this topic. I’ll ponder this weekend and we can put our heads together next week! This is, obviously, a topic that is near and dear to me. Have a great weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written an excellent post on how Republican candidates for Congress are using that bogeyman “CRT”, about which most of them know nothing, to intimidate and strike fear into the hearts of their voters. A must-read for all!!! Thank you, Jeff!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, Jeff,
    You imply, but never state outright, the power of repetition is what turns a falsehood into a truth. Saying something once, most people will not notice. Say it twice, someone might wonder. But repeat it over and over and IT MUST BE TRUE. Basic human psychology. It needs no fact-checking. It needs no confirmation.All it takes is saying it over and over. The Dems need to use similar tactics, because as you said, to ignore them is political suicide.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree Jerry. Democrats are pathetic when it comes to this stuff. They’re always worried about ‘offending’ voters. Republicans have no such qualms. I’m not saying Dems should ever promote a lie and try to make it the truth. But when they have successes or catch Republicans being their usual disingenuous selves, they should pound it into the public’s head. Over and over.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m similarly exasperated with all this talk on CRT, even though it is mostly taught in certain graduate programs. But, it seems like winning matters more than telling the truth for some (many) cynical politicians.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sad, but so very true Brendan. Hell, we ought to be teaching it in earlier grades in my view. No Dem politician would ever say that. But the more we try to understand the systemic racism this country has always had, the better off we’d be. That’s just me. And, perhaps, another post in the future!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I say, let’s leave in place all the depraved Confederate statues still standing–and replace the ones removed. And then, right next to them, all across the land, erect dioramas depicting the brutality and inhumanity of the slavery that was so prominent in our nation’s history. Then direct observers to books, articles, and movies that provide yet more information about the truths of our nation’s past, including the brutal treatment of the indigenous people. Sure, we can point to many examples of goodness and greatness in the words and actions of our ancestors, but those good words and deeds must be balanced with the truths of our mistakes and even our atrocities.
    If, as the old saying goes, we don’t learn from our past, we will repeat it. Indeed, we’ve been repeating it; the examples are pervasive.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I love that idea Jerry. We must and need to confront the sins of our past. No, not to make white people feel guilty. But make them understand the true history. Show the good that was done of course. But we can’t ignore these pitiful and pathetic parts of our past. Running away from it only breeds more low information voters and conspiracy theorists in our midst.
      I just heard a pretty good quote this morning. “It’s time to get comfortable, with the uncomfortable.” It actually came from the athletic director of the Ohio State Buckeyes talking about upcoming changes to college sports. But it sure rings true to what we’re talking about as well.
      How nice would it be if starting to crank out a bunch of critical and nuanced thinkers from our schools? A much, much, better America in my view.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. You may be onto something there, Jerry! Make it so there is no escaping the reality of our past … for anyone! You’re so right … if we don’t learn from the mistakes in history, we are doomed to keep repeating them.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sometimes words could from the heart…not the head….
    And so it spreads its wings, like some satanic creature in a Renaissance painting. For a few decades it lurked in the swamps and stagnant ponds of bars where Bitterness and Bigotry were the preferred drink. But with presidential election of 2008 it rose howling in outrage leathered hard pinions beating out the rhythm of hate.
    In echoes of Booker T Washington’s visit to the Whitehouse, the response from the bigots resurrected the ghost of the loathsome Benjamin Tilman and whispers of his hate filled words would be heard.
    They never truly recovered from the Civil War; the truth that they were not noble unstoppable chivalrous warrior farmers was finally shown in stark relief on Cemetery Ridge 3rd July 1863. But they would not accept that, for starters many blamed Longstreet and that continued. Then they sought out whatever group was on hand, and for a while preyed on the black sacrifice offered up by Washington in the name of unification.
    But in the post-World War II reflection and the wagon-circling of the Cold War, they lost ground, bitterly, grudgingly, hiding in their blasphemic versions of churches and the bile of what should have been parody radio shows.
    Now the flood gates are open, a toxic torrent of rants, conspiracies, bastardisation of the words Freedom, and a deluge of ignorance floods the lands.
    Sadly they are not unique in this world, I could cite enough massacres and inter-communal violence to make even the most hardened weep. They never win though, there is always retaliation. These fools do not realise that the door swings two ways.
    They should consider two recent lessons.
    The German nation understood what horrors had been unleashed and tried to make recompense.
    In Ulster a civil version of the Thirty Years War was played out; you had to live next door to it to get a taste of what was happening and even then comprehension was stretched. Even now the tightrope wavers in the breezes of sectarianism.
    If they considered neither of these then the Republican Party is one of Bigots, Fools and Opportunists, tugged on the leash of a clutch of ranting White Supremacists and not worthy of participating in the nation The USA should be.
    My adopted nation is in pain, and I feel it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve always said you have a better understanding than 99% of Americans, Roger. “Bigots, fools, and opportunists.” Such an apt description of one of our two parties over here. Yes, the floodgates have been opened. I mean, look what’s happening to our good friends and neighbors up North-Canada. They, too, are now being infiltrated by these folks. And these so-called “protestors for freedom” are championed by the opportunistic right-wing media echo chamber on a nightly basis. You’re exactly right, Roger. We ARE in pain, and I do not know if we will be able to relieve that pain anytime soon. Yep, the floodgates my friend. Opened, and flowing uncontrollably.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I still want to be wrong Jeff, but History’s lessons are looming over my shoulder.
        There doesn’t seems to be a enough ‘Fire-In-The Belly’ in the Center; OK so folks are queasy about being seen to be imitating MAGA with their guns (I’d like to see some of those a-holes up against Taliban, or Mexican cartels).
        Some resolve is needed.
        We could start with reviving:

        Never mind who is singing it or its Christian ‘Lord’…. Anyone can sing it and see ‘Lord’ as principals….This an’t no time to be picky.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks for sharing that poignant song Roger. I get it.
        I do have a quick question for you though, on another topic. I think I saw a survey the other day where a huge majority of Brits now say they wished that the UK would have stayed in EU. Is that true? Does that seem to be the widespread view now?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Now there’s a topic Jeff. I’ll try and be balanced, although am a Remainer, and consider myself a European first.
        Brexit raised heated passions, split families, caused relationship break ups and commentators said they had never witnessed the country so divided. Also caused yet another fracture in the Labour Party, but that’s too arcane to explain, you’d have to be a Labour Supporter to get it, otherwise it doesn’t make sense.
        Anyway, that intro done, onto the current public mood. From what I have read in the polls, those who believe we should have stayed in the EU are now in the high 40%s, while those who still think we did the right thing are in the area of high 30%s to low 40%s and those who don’t know have remained holding the middle ground, so arguably there has been a shift.
        This is not the whole answer though for the reason that the UK is now effectively separated into 4 distinct administrative regions:
        1. England, certainly pro-leaving EU, also pro-govt, although the opposition is vocal on both accounts, and have a consensus that racism played a role in the vote. There are those pro-leavers who can make economic arguments but they have difficulty making themselves heard over the hub-hub from the ill-informed.
        2. Wales, with three-quarters of its population crammed in one quarter of the land (South-East) voted to leave, which was puzzling since Wales relied on EU money. The question of low-level racism has to be considered.
        3. Scotland- Mostly pro-EU, but that is mixed up with Nationalism, which itself sub-divides into ‘Let’s Go It Alone’ and ‘Not So Hasty. We need to think this through’.
        4. Northern Ireland – Where they always do things differently along sectarian lines. The issue was made more complicated by a settlement which left that part of the UK, sort of half in and half out of the EU on account of its border with Eire. The London based government having managed to fix an agreement with the EU which annoyed both sides of the divide in Northern Ireland but for seemingly different reasons, which only make sense if you live in Northern Ireland (Tip: If anyone claims they can explain Northern Ireland to you in simple terms nod politely, listen just to display good manners, then walk away).

        The public argument has generally been placed on hold during ‘Covid’, although news stories surface regularly about problems businesses are having since the UK left, and you can still visit a firestorm on Face Book by typing in ‘Brexit’ or ‘Remain’ in the search box and joining in one of the scraps going on.

        It is unlikely there would be a sudden reversal as the pro-leave party The Conservatives hold a very large majority in Parliament and even if they took a hammering in the next general election would still be likely to hold a working majority. Boris would certainly be replaced, but ‘Leave’ would remain as a policy.

        To sum it up, although nowhere as deadly or vitriolically threatening, it is currently our version of the Gun-Control debate. With one side holding all the strong cards, despite the very quite substantial opposition.

        Sorry I couldn’t give a short answer

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks for that Roger. As always, I understand something so much better once you have explained it to me. The bottom line is that it’s an extremely complicated and divisive subject for you folks. To that I say, welcome to the chronically divided! One thing I can determine from your excellent summation of the problem is that nothing is going to change anytime soon. It seems as though the cat is now out of the bag and it will be difficult to put the cat back in. Is that an accurate description?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You are so right, Jeff! Roger is the ultimate historian … I don’t think there is much of anything he doesn’t know about his own country, ours, and most others. Most people in this country seem to have given up reading and learning, substituting them with internet games and Fox ‘News’.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Critical thinking Jill. It’s such a lost art now. If only Americans had a fraction of Roger’s knowledge and understanding. How cool would that be?

        Liked by 2 people

      7. If they did, then we likely wouldn’t have half the problems in this country we have today. But … sigh … instead of improving our education system, we’re trying to dummy it down even further by not teaching the true history of the U.S. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I agree Roger. Keith is someone I can always turn to for common sense-especially since he’s coming from a decades long membership in the Republican Party. He remembers when they used to be a moderate/bi-partisan kind of party. And he realizes what they’ve since become. We should all aspire to such nuanced critical thinking. Wish we had more of it to go around!

        Liked by 2 people

      9. Very true Jeff.
        Hit the wrong triggers and I’m as much a
        ‘We should meet the invader on the verge of just defence… …and raise the black flag. No quarter to the violators of our homes and firesides. Our political leadership is too timid to face the reality of this coming war’* as the next hot-head (*T J ‘Stonewall’ Jackson…on the wrong side in the Civil War…killed by friendly fire).
        We need more Keiths

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Jeff, good post. Like building a wall, CRT is a prop. It is label to use to condemn the other side without debate. Ask someone who raises CRT as an issue what it means and listen. Then you can probe with questions. But, also do your best to make people aware that we must learn from our horrible moments in history to avoid repeating them. There are still too many extremist thinkers that find like-minded folks on social media and they peddle in this CRT BS. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Keith. Yes, if you ask most of the people who are so scared about CRT, they couldn’t even tell you the first thing about what it really is. Ask them a few questions and their tongues instantly get tied. I just wish more Americans had the capacity for deeper thinking and nuance. Sadly, I’m not optimistic.

      Liked by 1 person

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