New Form of McCarthyism Takes Cancerous Roots in New Jersey Body Politics | Opinion

By Alan J. Steinberg

I grew up in the 1950s. The fear of the kitchen table expressed at the time was that of McCarthyism, named after infamous Wisconsin senator Joseph R. McCarthy. The word McCarthyism had many connotations, but more importantly, it referred to the crusade of McCarthy and his henchmen, Roy Cohn and G. David Schine to eliminate from the marketplace of ideas both progressive thinkers and progressive thought.

Among the targets of McCarthyism were left-wing avant-garde intellectuals like IF Stone and journalistic icons like Edward R. Murrow. In addition, there were prominent high-ranking government-employed scientists, such as J. Robert Oppenheimer, and diplomats and academics, such as Chinese expert Owen Lattimore, who saw their careers ended by the evil of McCarthyism. . Unfortunately, the scourge of McCarthyism did not end with the senator’s censorship in 1954 but continues in various forms to the present day, of which Trumpism is the last manifestation.

Today, there is an even more insidious and menacing new form of McCarthyism with cancerous roots in the New Jersey body politic. It is a pernicious anti-intellectual malignancy that seeks to eliminate the teaching of any aspect of Critical Race Theory (CRT) from the New Jersey public school system.

In New Jersey, the authors of the legislation embodying this racial anti-African American McCarthyism are two Republican senators from the state of New Jersey, Michael Testa, Jr. from Cumberland County and Joe Pennacchio from Morris County, both strong supporters of Donald Trump. Their press release introducing this legislation, S4166, is a classic example of McCarthyism at its most despicable extreme, a naked effort to purge academic freedom from our public school system and to suppress any effort to teach New Jersey children the shameful American heritage. slavery, racial discrimination and segregation.

The press release begins with advocating for a ban on public school teachers engaging in political, ideological or religious advocacy in their classrooms. This prohibition is the epitome of McCarthyism.

He then continues with a blatant racist slander of critical race theory, suggesting that it includes the following two concepts: 1) one race or sex (black) is inherently superior to another race or sex; and 2) an individual, by reason of race (white) or gender, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

To show how this definition of Testa-Pennacchio is contemptible, it is first essential to describe the meaning given to CRT by the educational community.

CRT is most accurately defined by educators as the theory that racism is not only the product of sectarian individuals, but is rather systemic in the nation’s institutions, which function to maintain white dominance in the country. company. This definition of racism embedded in our societal and governmental system, rather than a product of inherently evil white individuals, is a complete refutation of the false claims of Testa and Pennacchio that CRT involves claims of 1) superiority and privilege. blacks; and 2) the inherent evils of white men and women.

Critical Race Theory is actually not taught at the K-12 level in public schools across our country. In fact, it is more often part of the curriculum of law schools. Some aspects of CRT, however, are contained in American history classes in our elementary and secondary schools. The inclusion of these CRT concepts is necessary to 1) refute any misconceptions children may have about race; and 2) fill the void of their lack of knowledge of the role that racism, slavery and segregation have played in the oppression of people of color in America.

To understand a classic example of how a bigoted cultural influence turns into a systemic racial barrier and warped history, one need only look deeper than the case of William Archibald Dunning, a Columbia University professor whose false, fraudulent and white supremacist “Dunning School” was the dominant theory of Reconstruction taught in American universities during the first half of the 20th century. The essence of the Dunning School was the notion that the freedman, the African American slave freed immediately after the Civil War, was biologically inferior to the white person, incapable of self-rule, undeserving of the right vote and thus justifying segregation. white people.

If you want to see a despicable manifestation of the Dunning School, just read the book and watch the 1930s movie, “Blown away by the wind. “This despicable and vile production was an apology for the racial oppression of the pre-war and post-war south in the same way as the films of Leni Riefenstahl, in particular.”Triumph of the Will”, Served as propaganda to the Nazis during the same period.

Teaching critical race theory in our public schools is a vital antidote to the racial poison of the Dunning School, which still has a lingering racist impact on American society. In my opinion, the teaching of critical race theory in our public schools should not just be allowed – it should be MANDATE in order to root Dunning’s malignancy out of the American societal and government context, once and for all.

Alan J. Steinberg served as a regional administrator for Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.

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