Column: GOPs ‘critical race theory’ alarmism is nothing more than ‘favorable ignorance conjecture’

Florida’s board of education, following the lead of other Republican-run states, has outlawed the teaching of “critical race theory” in schools, a decision that will help children in the sweltering, flat Sunshine State about as much as outlawing toboggans.

Standing on the firm evidentiary platform of having zero evidence that critical race theory was being taught anywhere in Florida, the board, at the behest of Gov. Ron DeSantis — a Republican presidential aspirant and well-oiled right-wing-buzzword sprinkler — voted Thursday to end a thing that wasn’t happening while further misrepresenting what that thing actually means. All in the name of … education!

Critical race theory has become a bucket conservative opportunists fill with whatever scary (to white people) conspiracies they find in the trash bin outside Tucker Carlson’s office at Fox News. The term does mean something, but that something bears no relation to the way it gets defined by people like DeSantis, who punch it up with words like “indoctrinate” and “Marxist” and say things like: “Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money.”

The idea that critical race theory teaches kids to hate their country or hate each other is a massive insult to kids, and presumes they lack the critical thinking skills to learn from the past or see how past injustices still persist.

Here’s a simple, factual summary of critical race theory by PolitiFact: “In plain terms, critical race theory holds that racism is part of a broader pattern in America: It is woven into laws, and it shows up in who gets a job interview, the sort of home loans people are offered, how they are treated by police, and other facets of daily life large and small.”

All those things happen, routinely. You can say “racism is dead” until your white face turns blue, but that doesn’t change the reality that people of color continue to reckon with racism, both directly and indirectly. Trying to gloss over these facts doesn’t do students any favors, nor does it give them the knowledge they need to make the country a better place.

But key to this whole ludicrous discussion is the fact that, for all the outrage cranked out by the persistently loud culture warriors on the right, critical race theory isn’t a formal thing that’s being taught in schools. To listen to Fox News is to think every child in America walks to class carrying a textbook titled “Critical Race Theory 101: Death to Whitey!”

Just Thursday, “Fox & Friends” numbskull No. 1 Steve Doocy said: “We’ve also, over the last couple of weeks, been talking about how in a number of school districts, they are pushing this critical race theory. Essentially it all boils down to you’re either — ultimately because of your skin color, you’re either an oppressor or you’re a victim.”

That inaccurate blather set numbskull No. 2, Brian Kilmeade, off on a theory that China is secretly pushing critical race theory in American schools as a way to take down the country: “I would not be surprised if they are somehow pushing an agenda through willing surrogates that is helping to destroy our country first and foremost in our school system which is outraging us currently right now.”

That is — and I can’t stress this enough — one of the dumbest things any human has ever said, a bar Kilmeade and Doocy have already set so low it’s subterranean.

The crux of the argument against critical race theory seems to be that we can’t learn anything from looking back, which is ironic coming from folks who want their heritage preserved via statues of racist Civil War generals and insist everyone follow the 2,000-year-old teachings of a Middle Eastern carpenter they for some reason believe had white skin.

In truth, the game was given away recently when Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, tweeted: “We have successfully frozen their brand — ‘critical race theory’ — into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category. The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’”

Oops! You’re not supposed to say the quiet part out loud, Chris!

Oh well, revealing the scam behind the grift will only slow Republican alarmists down if they stop screaming “THEY’RE TEACHING YOUR WHITE CHILDREN TO HATE THEMSELVES!” long enough for people to realize they’re being duped. And the Republican alarmists will absolutely not stop screaming that, so the grift will go on.

In the meantime, I suggest the rest of us become equally outraged by what I’m calling “favorable ignorance conjecture.” I feel comfortable declaring, without evidence, that favorable ignorance conjecture is a fascist school of thought promoted by DeSantis, Fox News pundits, other Republican lawmakers unencumbered by intellect and thick conservative think-tank thinkers whose thoughts require no thinking.

Favorable ignorance conjecture is a radical, anti-American ideology aimed at indoctrinating our children into believing ignorance is a vital American attribute and planting your head firmly in the sand is patriotic.

Believers in favorable ignorance conjecture claim America is perfect in every way and should be viewed as infallible. They say bringing up slavery or racism is “the real racism.”

Clearly, favorable ignorance conjecture must be stopped. Please join me in calling out this reckless ideology.

Before the country gets any dumber.