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Conservatives, Beware Turning Into the Left

AP Photo/Denis Poroy

You know how the left finds ways to suppress views with which they disagree instead of engaging in debate on the issues? I fear that we conservatives might be relying on a similar strategy when it comes to the Critical Race Theory (CRT) problem.

The battle over whether elements of Critical Race Theory should be taught in America’s classrooms has been raging full force over the majority of 2021. Parents have swarmed school board meetings, demanding that they make sure these institutions do not use this form of wokeism to label students and faculty according to their skin color. There is even a growing movement of parents running to replace school board members who subscribe to the hard leftist theory.

Some states have passed controversial laws supposedly banning the teaching of parts of the theory. But in some cases, it seems that some conservatives are pushing this move to the extent that it is mimicking the left when it comes to suppressing ideas.

In Texas, a Republican state lawmaker compiled a list of 850 books on topics like racism, sexuality, and others which he suggests will “make students feel discomfort.” He is demanding that each school district report whether any of the 850 books are in their classrooms or libraries.

NBC News reported:

State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, also wants to know how many copies of each book the districts have and how much money they spent on them, according to a letter he sent Monday to Lily Laux, deputy commissioner of school programs at the Texas Education Agency, and several school district superintendents.

Krause also directed school districts to look for “any other books” that might cause “guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

The letter Krause wrote to districts contained a list which includes books like “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” which is a narrative detailing Turner’s slave rebellions. The list also includes “The Cider House Rules,” “V For Vendetta,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

There were also books on the Black Lives Matter movement, and others dealing with issues concerning the LGBTQ community.

The lawmaker did not provide an explanation for why he sought this information. However, he argued that some districts “have removed books from libraries and/or classrooms after receiving objections from students, parents, and taxpayers.”

NBC also noted that his list includes one book that was popular among conservatives: “Eyes on Target: Inside Stories from the Brotherhood of the U.S. Navy SEALs,” by Scott McEwen and Richard Miniter.

After NBC News told him about the list, McEwen stated that he finds it “very distressing.”

He continued:

This book is not anti-anything. It’s basically an anthem to the Navy SEALs. I don’t care which side of the political spectrum you’re on. Banning books is wrong. I am completely against the banning of books.

This trend is not only happening in Texas. A Tennessee chapter of Moms 4 Liberty is trying to ban a book written by Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend a segregated white school in New Orleans, about her experience integrating her school. The Tennessean reported:

Community members and local advocacy organizations have come forward in disapproval of books like “Ruby Bridges Goes to School,” “Separate is Never Equal,” and “George vs. George,” their argument being that teaching about the darker aspects of racism in the United States history isn’t appropriate in elementary grades.

Anyone paying attention to the debate over CRT and wokeism in public schools knows that one of the hard left’s arguments is that conservatives just want to stop teachers from educating their students about black history. Of course, this is what they argue while also arguing that CRT is not being taught in the first place, so their positions are rather disjointed.

Still, while CRT and wokeism are not just about teaching the truth about America’s history, the push to ban books by labeling them as Critical Race Theory will backfire if it becomes widespread. It will give the left standing when they say: “See? We told you they want to whitewash America’s history!”

The bottom line is that not everything is CRT. We would be making a fatal mistake by treating the term the way the left treats words like “racism” or “homophobia.” Moreover, banning book after book after book is the same type of behavior we condemn by the left.

As parents, we should be open to allowing our children to check out books from the library that might present them with differing ideas. This is more true for students in high school. After all, how will we teach them how to think critically if they are not exposed to viewpoints that disagree with theirs?

This isn’t to say that there are absolutely no books on Krause’s list that might not be appropriate; indeed, I saw at least a few on sexuality that might not be suitable for young children. But going after 850 works because it might cause students to feel discomfort is the same type of coddling of children that the left seeks to push.

When it comes to the culture wars, it is not enough to just fight. It is not enough to just do things that might make us feel good in the moment but might come back to bite us later on. To put it simply, we have to fight smart.

Right now, we are winning this battle. There is a reason why the National School Board Association colluded with the Biden administration to label parents as domestic terrorists. While this turned out to be a huge PR mistake for the Democrats, it does not mean they will not try something else.

Let’s leave the stupid mistakes to the left and make sure we are sending the right message to the rest of the country. Otherwise, the left might just figure out a way to turn the tide.