Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute and frequent Fox News guest who has been a driving force behind the political scare campaign over critical race theory, appeared on May 18 at an event for the Claremont Institute on “Woke Capital,” during which he admitted that he is not even concerned with understanding the intellectual underpinnings of the ideas he is campaigning against.
Instead, as Rufo explained, the right has “appropriated” a label in order to achieve political victories. This in turn is consistent with the misinformation feedback loop that conservative media have set up on the issue, as part of an ongoing assault against civil rights advances and any discussions of racism as a persistent social problem.
Rufo has previously taken credit for a Trump-era executive order that restricted federal racial sensitivity trainings — an order that President Joe Biden rescinded upon taking office — as well as for working with state legislatures to restrict diversity training materials.
In reality, critical race theory is a broad academic discipline that seeks to explore how the history of racism in America still has an effect on modern life and society. In response to the ongoing scare campaign, educators and public officials in education across the country have tried to explain that critical race theory is not generally taught at the K-12 level, but rather in more advanced levels of academic study.
However, none of that really matters. Rufo has previously boasted of having turned the critical race theory label “toxic” as part of an overall exercise in political branding beyond even discussions of race, in order to “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,’” Rufo has tweeted. “We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”
But more pointedly, the label “critical race theory” has really become a vehicle for conservative media and political activists to push their own toxic cultural rhetoric.
(H/t Twitter user Z3dster.)