Last week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared on CNN to discuss the emergence of critical race theory as the newest theater of the culture war. She began by noting that the term “critical race theory” refers to a particular tradition of legal and academic scholarship - one that isn’t taught below the college level, and certainly not in public grade schools. The right wing, she said, is conflating this term with any discussion of the role of race in US history and society, with the goal of inciting a moral panic.
All true so far. But then she suggested that the left shouldn’t just play defense on the question of racial pedagogy. Even if critical race theory isn’t being taught in schools, she argued that some other kind of anti-racist education should be, and questioned the motives of anyone dissenting from that opinion: “Why don’t you want our schools to teach anti-racism? Why don’t Republicans want their kids to know the tradition of anti-racism in the United States?”
I can’t speak for Republicans, but how’s this for a reason: the models of anti-racism now dominant in the education sector are an outgrowth of the charter school industry, funded by billionaires, and deliberately minimize the importance of class analysis.
Charter advocates have long appealed to concern for black and brown students in underperforming public schools to legitimize their push for privatization. But as the power of identity has grown in liberal culture, the industry has become the locus of a growing network of consultancies, NGOs, and businesses sowing the politics of race reductionism throughout the professional class. Back in May, I reported on Dianne Morales’ deep connections to these segments of the charter industry, and how her particularly intense brand of identitarian rhetoric was a product of that milieu.
So yes, there really is an elite conspiracy to turn public schools into re-education camps for a poisonous racial ideology. But as usual, the right is too high on its own supply to grasp the true nature of this phenomenon. It isn’t the cultural Marxists who are behind it, working to subvert the white imperium from within. It’s all the usual Draculas of the ruling class, looking to advance a goal the right itself has pursued for decades: the privatization of public education.
Thomas follows the money:
As it turns out, the project of anti-racism in education is being advanced by fortunes built on the exploitation of the working class, the immiseration of communities of color, the destruction of the environment, and the erosion of democracy.
It's Gates, Bezos, et al who are playing divide and conquer masterfully as they bankroll anti-racism education.
Thomas’s theory is that the billionaires prefer to get parents and the public focused on identity politics and ignore class analysis.
To see how successful the billionaires have been in getting us to attack each other on the race issue, just look at the comments section on almost every posting on this blog.
My advice is for all of you to stop hitting each other and punch upward.