“The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie.”

I offer these words of Nikole Hannah-Jones, whose 2019 essay is part of the New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project,” to the Heritage Foundation and the horde of Republican politicians currently trying to update the look and feel of American racism (a.k.a., “the lie”), to make it, you know, respectable and politically correct, so that it fits seamlessly into the mores of the 21st century.

To do so, they’ve taken aim at an academic concept dating back to the 1970s, known as “critical race theory,” which essentially makes the point that racism isn’t merely a phenomenon of individual beliefs but something, my God, built into the social structure – which is absurd, so they say, in a country that is long past its racial troubles and is now colorblind.

As the Heritage Foundation puts it, critical race theory is “an ongoing effort to reimagine the United States as a nation riven by groups, each with specific claims on victimization.”

Can you imagine?

“Democrats want to teach our children to hate each other,” Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a member of the Republican House Freedom Caucus, declared recently.

And Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, speaking at the same press conference, put it bluntly:

Folks, we’re in a cultural warfare today. Critical race theory asserts that people with white skin are inherently racist, not because of their actions, words or what they actually believe in their heart – but by virtue of the color of their skin.

In other words, to talk about race and American history, especially to bring it into the present moment and suggest there is still such a thing as “white privilege,” is itself racist: a means of sowing divisions between people that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

As Education Week points out: “The topic has exploded in the public arena this spring – especially in K-12, where numerous state legislatures are debating bills seeking to ban its use in the classroom.”

Indeed, legislation “purporting to outlaw” the teaching of critical race theory has passed in Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma and Tennessee. However: “The bills are so vaguely written that it’s unclear what they will affirmatively cover.”

The result of this vague legislation may simply be to discourage any deeply penetrating look at American history in the nation’s classrooms – kind of the way American history has always been taught. Keep the focus on the ideal, as per the words of Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

And keep it away from the lie: that Jefferson owned 600 slaves, and that, indeed, one-fifth of the newly formed country were slaves.

“Enslaved people,” writes Hannah-Jones, were not recognized as human beings but as property that could be mortgaged, traded, bought, sold, used as collateral, given as a gift and disposed of violently.

“Enslaved people could not legally marry. They were barred from learning to read and restricted from meeting privately in groups. They had no claim to their own children, who could be bought, sold and traded away from them on auction blocks alongside furniture and cattle or behind storefronts that advertised ‘Negroes for Sale.’”

Yeah, this is pretty awkward. How could this be taught in a public-school setting? The Republican solution is to shrug and gently set all that aside and at the same time, by focusing on a specific, newly proclaimed evil – critical race theory – rally its constituents against the true enemy (the Democrats, the “left”) and keep them eager to vote. In so doing, they are also making sure real American racism remains alive and evolving.

For instance, as NPR pointed out, during the Freedom Caucus press conference, nearly half of the speakers, even as they denied that racism was in any way part of the nation’s social structure, “invoked Martin Luther King Jr., expressing their desire to be judged ‘by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.’”

So a major component of the latest manifestation of racism is that white people are its victims. This is an interesting trajectory. We’ve moved from outright slavery, which was ended by the Civil War; to the era of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan (whites-only drinking fountains, the lynching of black people, and so much more), which was ended by the civil rights movement; to racism’s present incarnation, which includes the prison-industrial complex, the maintenance of police departments that function as occupying armies in black neighborhoods, ongoing financial inequality, voter suppression, and the unaddressed effects of three centuries of racist cruelty and subhuman treatment, which Republicans are now attempting to hold together by means of political correctness.

All of which leads me back to the ideal and the lie. The paradox of this reality – that this was a nation founded on the best and worst of who we are – goes well beyond such questions as: How do we teach history to 10-year-olds? At the very least, it asks the question: How do we teach American history to the entire country?

Tom Hanks, for instance, in a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times, expresses deep consternation over how much American history has remained invisible, such as the Tulsa Race Massacre of May 1921 – a riot of white people running amok in a prosperous black community, which resulted in 300 people killed and some 10,000 left homeless, as 40 square blocks were destroyed.

But beyond our awareness of history lies an even deeper matter, or perhaps two matters at once: How do we heal our past wounds, as they manifest in the present day; and also, how do we truly face, and transcend, our founding racism, which remains – no doubt in many unknown ways – embedded in today’s social and political structure and continues to influence who we are and what we do?

Robert C. Koehler of Chicago is an award-winning journalist and editor. He is the author of “Courage Grows Strong at the Wound.”

(22) comments

mpjeep

Thank you, Mr. Koehler, for continuing to try and race-shame us white folks as racist by default. Yes, I decided before I was born to be white so that I might enjoy white privilege.

I, for one, do not give credence to the term “white privilege”. I’m an individual not to be categorized as you have done. And I will not continue to walk on eggshells when dealing with folks like you.

CRT does teach that America is fundamentally racist, and this theory shouldn’t be thrust upon our school-age children.

Yes, You, the NYT, and Biden try to force-feed the 1619 Project and CRT on our kids in the name of Votes that are meant to divide us.

You proudly call yourself a peace journalist. I guess you mean negative and positive peace?

David Collins

Such garbage as this is formulated by the race baiters in our society . It spreads as well . This is becoming the norm for The Tideland News .

(Edited by staff.)

mpjeep

The Biden administration blamed an "error" Wednesday after promoting a radical activist group’s handbook that pushes critical race theory in schools and calls on educators to "disrupt Whiteness."

(Edited by staff.)

drewski

Some folks sure do feel threatened by the actual facts of history. Heaven forbid we keep dredging up the past. Lets just pretend the 3/5 compromise never happened. As long as we are pretending lets ignore that "black names" don't get call backs for job interviews, that black family photos will lower you refinancing house appraisal considerably, compared to white family photos. Lets all get as self righteous as we can, Sure bad things happened in the past, but today everything is fair and equal. So lets ALL focus on the way the white man has done right,and let the past stay in the past. Even if this past was this morning, its the past darn it ,get over it and move on.

David Collins

If this country is so fundamentally racist and unjust , then why are so many people , black , brown or anything in between , literally willing to die in order to sneak in ? Could someone explain that one please ?

drewski

You explained it yourself in a previous post. I beleive you said even the poor here are so much better off then Haiti. We could add El Salvador, Guatemala and a dozen other countries to that list. The two facts are not mutually exclusive.

mpjeep

From a county in Wisconsin - Know the warning signs of white supremacy:

1 Fulltime Employment

2 Literacy

3 Professional or Technical Degree

4 Regular Church Attendance

5 Auto Insurance

6 Good Credit Rating

7 No Criminal Record

mpjeep

Teaching students Black History is a right and proper educational course. But, CRT, a neo-Marxist curriculum, is not synonymous with Black History education,

Black history is based on the fight toward inclusion, and the wounds, and the healing, and the division, and the successes.

CRT is based on division and separation rather than progress.

I’m sorry some miss the point.

drewski

Crt is neo Marxist, its evil, it's indoctrination, it shames innocent white children. Or it's a different perspective on historical events. How scary!

David Collins

Well , Drew , which is it . Can’t have it both ways .

Yup , these illegals are here for the money . Money then never earned but that’s OK . SLO Joe and his clown princess have no qualms about showering them with your money and you have no problem with that . No problem at all . Do you ?

No doubt in my mind what I would do if I could ………. . In a heartbeat . Enough said .

mpjeep

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.

Harvey Feinstein

drewski

I fear this thread is veering into the absurd, The uber conservatives now say " it can't be both ways", as if america cant be racist, and still better then grinding poverty and murder squads. Then they are quoting a famous drag queen, is that similar to quoting black folks who agree with your view because you believe it somehow confers credibility? Perhaps next we can rehash the latest word salad from the Lt gov. on "indoctrination in public schools"

"The only thing we have to fear, is the fear of CRT itself."

JusticeForAll

Exactly, drewski. It is inherent that correct information hit this forum.

"Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance." W. Clement Stone

mpjeep

Teaching kids that America is systemically racist is false and is meant to divide. Where is the justice?

mpjeep

LEO TERRELL (Black Civil Rights Attorney) on CRT: “They're looking at the curriculum, they're looking at the lesson plans. And I guarantee you, critical race theory is a racist theory. And I want to destroy this myth right now. People of all colors, including myself, oppose critical race theory because it's based on a lie. This country was founded on liberty and freedom. And the idea that people should be looked at by skin color is insulting to everything that America stands for. “ll tell you right now, these white liberals on the Democratic side, they do not speak for America. I think the strategy should be what's going on right now. Families across the country of all colors should challenge this school board, demand to see the curriculum, demand to see the lesson plan, demand to see the stated objective, to see if this critical race theory is in the school curriculum. If so, challenge it and raise it to a level where people are aware of it. It's going to be a major factor, along with crime in the 2022 election, in which the Democrats are going to lose. And Nancy Pelosi will be retired.”

drewski

Leo James Terrell is a talk radio host based in Los Angeles, California. He recently became a Fox News Contributor and appears on many shows including Hannity

David Collins

So , what does that mean ? Life , liberty and Levin is interesting at times. But then is a $200 dinner with my lovely bride . Life can be oh so good .

Jackie Gleason

How much more do we need to hear about CRT? Mr. Koehler seems to like to reference Nikole Hannah-Jones and Tom Hanks as "experts" about how one should view CRT. I view CRT in a very simplistic way. It is called reality. Is there something called "white privileged"? I believe so. But there is also Hispanic and Asian privilege. I also believe If we look a little further there is "black privilege". How do I know this? The same way I know there is white privilege.....70+ years of experiencing it. I remember in elementary school when I had to pay a nickel for my milk during the week and the less fortunate did not. I dIdn't really understand it at the time. I remember in junior high school when I went through the cafeteria line I had to pay for my meal when my mother didn't brown bag me....the less fortunate paid nothing. Again, I really didn't understand it at the time. I remember going to high school and getting on public transportation and paying money to get to school on the bus and the less fortunate used "chits" to ride for free. Didn't really think about it at the time. I remember trying to get into college and finding out about a certain percentage of applicants that would have to be accepted regardless of academic standing. I kind of thought that wasn't too fair. Then I found out in the work force that a certain number of applicants had to be a specific color before other jobs were filled regardless of experience. I thought that may be really unfair. More recently there is reduced or free housing for the less fortunate. There are free cell phones. There are now different rules for criminals who cannot post bail geared towards a specific race. I could continue. My point is with all the privilege that one could have received during my life the only privilege I see for "white privilege" is the privilege of having paid more taxes for those who are less fortunate so that they may have the ability to get some of that "white privilege". After 70+ years I think I now understand. I would have thought some people would have taken advantage of that privilege they were given and done something to better themselves like I did with my "white privilege"......

noitall

RACISM IS DEFINED AS ????????????????????????????

drewski

If only those people had used reduced school lunches and bus chits to build generational wealth!

mpjeep

Well said, jackie. Thanks for posting. I’m close to your age and remember things just as you do. Reparations have been paid.

“Liberal privilege” is being allowed to state your opinion without getting fired from your job or delisted. White privilege is being accused of racism simply for disagreeing with a liberal.

Lebron deserves respect. After all, James is a high school dropout and multi-millionaire ball bouncer.

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