In the debate over the teaching of critical race theory in America's public schools, the loudest voices are often the ones disrupting school board meetings and promoting weak theories it's part of a neo-Marxist effort to upend American society. Like many involved in this debate, these voices tend to know little about CRT or the fact it's not being taught in K-12 schools in the first place.
In a recent poll done by The Factual, a site and newsletter that offers ways to filter news for bias and accuracy, over 60% of respondents were against teaching critical race theory in public schools. What was more surprising than the number of people who were in favor of banning CRT from the K-12 curriculum was the fact many were fairly knowledgeable about it and had opinions far more nuanced than those taking center stage.
To round out YDHTY's series on the subject, I spoke with Arjun Moorthy, CEO and co-founder of The Factual, to discuss this poll and some of the arguments their readers made. During our conversation, we touched on a theme that came up in last month's series on tech censorship - namely, that despite Americans' expressed commitment to freedom of expression, we're often very comfortable banning ideas we disagree with from the public square.
Polling run by The Factual in April of this year showed 64% of respondents supporting the idea that critical race theory should be banned from America's public schools. Unlike many of CRT's loudest opponents, the majority of this majority wasn't looking to diminish the uglier parts of America's history and promote "patriotic education", but were opposed to ideals espoused in CRT that seemed to run contrary the advances made during the Civil Rights Movement.
Where the goal of the Civil Rights Movement was to advance colorblind policies with the goal of reaching racial equity, some tenets of CRT recommend policies that take race into consideration as a way to rectify some of the historical remnants of racism. Those who responded to the poll were concerned with this aspect, feeling it - in and of itself - was racist and regressive.
Among CRT's supporters, respondents in the poll included those who found the concepts taught by CRT valuable, as well as those who found the whole idea of "banning" a particular form of ideology unamerican.
Among CRT's supporters, respondents in the poll included those who found the concepts taught by CRT valuable and those who felt the whole idea of "banning" a particular form of ideology unAmerican.
The last sentiment is one that's not exclusive to the issue of critical race theory and highlights how difficult the American experiment is. Much of human suffering has been caused by the very tribalism America's system of government is designed to work against. Just as it was human nature to subjugate those who looked different in the form of slavery, so is it human nature to seek to silence ideas that run contrary to your worldview.
If the American experiment is going to succeed, there need to be more places for the quiet, nuanced voices in these discussions to prevail.
One additional editorial note not included in this episode: As of July of this year, 28 states either have passed or proposed regulations restricting how race is taught in public schools in response to the noise made over critical race theory despite the fact critical race theory is a university-level subject not being taught in public schools.
It's difficult to examine the current debate over CRT and not see a symptom of an electoral system that incentivizes candidates to break voters into tribal factions for the sake of winning elections. For those new to the site and the podcast looking to read up on this, you can start with this write-up on America's electoral system.
For more information, check out this write-up on why critical race theory is so divisive from The Factual.
You can also read this article from YDHTY outlining how race has played a part in political polarization in America.