National media outlets play up footage of irate parents, igniting a loop of fury.
The push to outlaw the teaching of critical race theory has its roots in viral videos of outraged parents criticizing it at school board meetings.
In one of these videos, a mother claims that critical race theory (CRT) was "a method employed on enslavement very many years ago by Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan to dumb down my ancestors so we could not think for ourselves." A woman describes CRT as "the American counterpart of the Chinese cultural revolution" in another. A third woman claims to have evidence that the school board in her community is "training our children to go out and murder police officers."
The videos, and the way they have been propagated online, are representative of how the movement to outlaw CRT has brought genuine grassroots resentment, institutional support, and a highly successful rightwing propaganda machine to the forefront of the US political discussion from academic obscurity.
That movement has made significant progress very quickly. At least 22 states have submitted legislation this year attempting to restrict the teaching of CRT, and six of those states—Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas—have passed such legislation. Florida, Georgia, and Utah have also approved national resolutions opposing CRT.
Emerson Sykes, a first amendment attorney with the ACLU, which is considering legal action to oppose these measures, said: "This was a gigantic campaign that has borne fruit in a very spectacular way." "Trying to strike back against that is going to require a significant campaign,"
Origins of an activist
When Moms for Liberty first arrived in Jacksonville, Florida, they were discussing one of the concerns that many parents had during the coronavirus pandemic: the requirement that children wear masks.
But mother-of-two Quisha King, who worked for the RNC and the Black Voices for Trump campaign in 2020, also wants to address other issues. Robert E. Lee High School was one of the area schools up for renaming at the time, and King believed that the justification for the change—that it would harm Black students—disrespected their capacity for success. King joined Moms for Liberty as co-chair and started speaking out against the CRT ideology she had been reading about.
King, who was raised in a "staunchly Democratic" home, said she underwent a political and spiritual transformation in 2017. Black conservative intellectual Dr. Thomas Sowell, who contends that "systemic racism" is an untestable hypothesis and has compared it to Nazi propaganda, is one of the new sources of information she started looking into after feeling that the Black Lives Matter movement had little to say about Black victims of a crime other than those killed by police. She read influential CRT academics like Derrick Bell, Richard Delgado, and Kimberlé Crenshaw as well as Christian critics of CRT like Neil Shenvi and Pastor Voddie Bauchman.
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