How a right-wing scholar is firing up the GOP's anti-CRT obsession: report

How a right-wing scholar is firing up the GOP's anti-CRT obsession: report

Twenty or 30 years ago, most consumers of right-wing media didn't know what critical race theory (CRT) was. Many liberals and progressives, for that matter, were unfamiliar with CRT — a college-level African-American studies discipline that, in essence, argues that racism of the past affects present-day institutions.

But in recent years, CRT has become a major boogieman in right-wing media and among MAGA Republicans. MAGA pundits and politicians, according to their liberal critics, have weaponized the term CRT and used it to attack any book or article that makes them uncomfortable — be it "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" or Alice Walker's "The Color Purple."

Scholar Stanley Kurtz is among the right-wing figures who has been railing against CRT, but his efforts go beyond trying to keep books out of public schools.

READ MORE: Why Texas Republicans’ crusade against 'woke civics' does students a huge disservice: report

Reporter Asher Lehrer-Small, in an article published by The 74 on May 2, emphasizes that Kurtz has "spearheaded a quiet but influential campaign to cleanse classrooms of what he calls 'woke civics.'" According to Lehrer-Small, Kurtz's "advocacy in Texas led to the 2021 passage of an unprecedented state law banning assignments that involve 'direct communication' between students and their federal, state or local lawmakers."

The reporter notes, "At the core of Kurtz's activism is a central idea: that hands-on civics lessons, such as students writing to their legislators, will lead to 'school-sponsored indoctrination and political action in support of progressive policy positions'…. Accurate or not, Kurtz's depiction of 'woke civics' is now being felt in America's classrooms."

Lehrer-Small adds, "When the scholar penned his model legislation in 2021, which said students should be banned from receiving class credit for 'lobbying' or 'advocacy' at the federal, state or local level, lawmakers and advocates across the country pounced."

The reporter notes some specific examples of Kurtz's influence. In 2022, for instance, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware and GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, according to Lehrer-Smalls, proposed a bipartisan bill that called for increasing grants for civics education. But the bill was "stopped in tracks" when Kurtz labeled it CRT. And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis "mimicked" Kurtz's messaging by claiming that the bill would "award grants to indoctrinate students with ideologies like critical race theory."

READ MORE: 'Censorial filters are unconstitutional': DeSantis' aim to control FL colleges' academic freedom worsens

Read Asher Lehrer-Small's full report for The 74 at this link.

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