Do Texas Republicans Want to Teach That the KKK Are the ‘Good Guys’?

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Julián Castro, once the mayor of San Antonio and later the secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama, has levied quite the allegation against Texas Republicans.

“[Texas governor] Greg Abbott trying to erase MLK Jr., César Chávez, and Susan B. Anthony from the Texas curriculum, and recast the KKK as the good guys. This is an assault on history and it must be stopped,” tweeted Castro on Tuesday, linking to a HuffPost article about the bill in question.

If this is an “assault,” the victim will fortunately emerge from it without a scratch.

The original “anti-Critical Race Theory” bill signed by Governor Abbott earlier this year included a laundry list of documents, events, and figures that the State Board of Education was to “adopt.” Among the required topics were “Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ and ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” “the life and work of Cesar Chavez,”the works of Susan B. Anthony,” and “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.” These, in addition to many, many more.

As Rich Lowry has reported, these requirements were always expected to be whittled down because while the legislature wanted to outline broad concepts and principles that should be covered, it is generally the State Board of Education’s job to dictate the minutia of the curriculum. Consequently, the aforementioned examples were pared back in the newer bill alongside items such as “the American GI Forum.”

“We just wanted to truncate the reading list so that it’s more manageable” state representative Steve Toth, who helped draft the bill, told National Review.

This is not to make optional — much less prohibit — the teaching of the times when America has fallen short of its ideals, nor to deny important reformers their due.

Far from it, the Board of Education expects students to be able to:

  • Trace the historical development of the civil rights movement from the late 1800s through the 21st century, including the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th amendments

  • Explain how Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan created obstacles to civil rights for minorities such as the suppression of voting

  • Describe the roles of political organizations that promoted African American, Chicano, American Indian, and women’s civil rights

  • Identify the roles of significant leaders who supported various rights movements, including Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Rosa Parks, and Betty Friedan

  • Discuss the impact of the writings of Martin Luther King Jr. such as his “I Have a Dream” speech and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” on the civil rights movement

  • Compare and contrast the approach taken by the Black Panthers with the nonviolent approach of Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Describe presidential actions and congressional votes to address minority rights in the United States, including desegregation of the armed forces, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965

  • Explain how George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and the Congressional bloc of southern Democrats sought to maintain the status quo

  • Evaluate changes in the United States that have resulted from the civil rights movement, including increased participation of minorities in the political process

  • Evaluate changes in the United States that have resulted from the civil rights movement, including increased participation of minorities in the political process

  • Describe how Sweatt v. Painter and Brown v. Board of Education played a role in protecting the rights of the minority during the civil rights movement

King? Check. Chavez? Check. Anthony? Check. White supremacists and their ghastly objectives? Check. Students are also supposed to be able to “analyze Abraham Lincoln’s ideas about liberty, equality, union, and government as contained in his first and second inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address and contrast them with the ideas contained in Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address” as well as “explain the impact of the election of African Americans from the South such as Hiram Rhodes Revels.”

As Toth put it: “It’s all already in there.”

“It’s important to understand that at America’s inception, there was a birth defect… We are in no way, shape, or form trying to say that slavery didn’t exist. I don’t agree that the United States was founded on slavery,” he added.

Substantive mistake aside, there’s also a curious contradiction in Castro’s line of thinking that’s worth taking taking into account. If he thought that taking these requirements out of a bill that was only just signed in June would mean the extraction of Martin Luther King Jr. from the state curriculum, why was he not advocating for the bill’s passage in the first place? Did he not believe that young Texans were being taught this essential knowledge until the original bill passed?

Of Castro’s comments, Toth was dismissive.

“Julián Castro is just- he’s a clown. And rather than giving you a thoughtful response, rather than having a thoughtful discussion about what Critical Race Theory truly is, they just want to point their fingers at the Republicans and say we’re racists,” he said. “Boy, gee, that is just so shocking, it’s like they’ve never used that line before.”

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