Should governments ban thoughts? Usually no. But the rare exceptions are spurious thoughts, ideas that commit fraud or deceive. âTry some meth, you’ll love it,â is a thought we criminalize, for good reason. So what lie justifies the Idaho legislature banning critical race theory?
Certainly, it’s not that race has played no role in American history. To their credit, proponents of “theory” document well how racial divisions have influenced everything from housing to transportation, from healthcare to criminal justice. Not thinking critically about race means that an entire generation can repeat the mistakes of the past, ignoring how prejudice and racism have shaped the modern world as it is today.
Unfortunately, the phrase “critical race theory” is not just a critical reflection on race. The concept is much less vague than the Democrats in Idaho claim. From a Pulitzer Prize-winning essay in the New York Times Magazine (The 1619 Project) to leading non-fiction works like “How to be an Anti-Racist” and “White Fragility,” the central idea of the critical theory of race is less to explain. the impact of race on past decisions, and more to make no doubt that race will dictate the future. In doing so, the theory offers only one solution: a radical systemic change in the way America makes decisions, in the way resources are allocated to who can speak on a given issue.
University professors who teach critical race theory passionately argue that it is not Marxism. But we are not forbidding teaching our children what Marxism is, so this statement does not shed much light. And the professors are right, the 1619 Project and the Communist Manifesto are not the same: they identify very different motivations and causes of inequity in society. Where they agree is how to ask uncritically why inequalities exist. Both theories state that, if there is any inequity, the author’s preferred cause must be assumed. In Marx’s case, it is capitalist greed. In Project 1619, it must be racial fanaticism.
And there lie thousands of lies piecemeal. America was founded on the realization that the end does not justify the means, that individuals and the motivations in their hearts matter. Idaho law now states that “no distinction or classification of students is to be made on the basis of race or color,” and it tells you all that this language is what actually prohibits the teaching of critical race theory.
Certainly, that there should be no distinction or classification based on race is and always has been an ambitious truth. That said, the legislature’s most valid criticism is not what they wrote in law this year, is that it was not written in territorial law or in the hearts of all Idahoans. 150 years ago.
Trent Clark is Chairman of Customalting LLC and former Chairman of the Republican Party of Idaho. He is currently a life member of the Republican National Committee and served as vice chairman of the Idaho Humanities Council.