Christopher Rufo on Critical Race Theory and the Trump Admin’s Recent Ban

September 17, 2020 Updated: September 27, 2020

A month ago, Christopher Rufo reported that a major U.S. nuclear lab—the Sandia National Laboratories—had forced all its white male executives to attend a “white men’s caucus” to educate them on their “white privilege.”

He discovered that this is just one among numerous cases of U.S. government institutions forcing critical race theory-based training on employees.

In this episode, we sit down with Rufo to discuss this ideology and why he has declared a “one-man war against ‘critical race theory’ in the federal government.”

This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.

Jan Jekielek: Chris Rufo, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Christopher Rufo: It’s good to be with you.

Mr. Jekielek: Chris, so I think just over a month ago, you launched, I think in your own words, “nuclear war on critical race theory.” And I guess, I want to figure out, before we go into all the details of this, how did this come about? What got you interested in critical race theory in government?

Mr. Rufo: I declared live on Tucker Carlson a one man war against critical race theory in our public institutions. I really got into reporting on this almost by accident at first. I had received an anonymous tip from a city of Seattle employee letting me know that the city of Seattle was holding racially segregated training sessions: one training session for whites, one training session for people of color.

Once I did a public records request and received all the documents, I realized that something truly awful and horrific was happening. They were teaching employees that by virtue of being white, you have internalized racial superiority. They were seeking to label the ideas of rationality, and individualization, and intellectualization, and even comfort as somehow white supremacist in nature.

This first investigation, after I broke the story, led to leaks and whistleblower documents from all over the country and most importantly, within our federal institutions. This has turned me onto this journey, studying the ideas from the theoretical foundation all the way to the practical implication within government. Of course, last week, really setting up the playing field for the president’s executive action, abolishing these trainings from the federal government.

Mr. Jekielek: We’ve had James Lindsay on the show a couple of times, the co-author of “Cynical Theories.” I know you’re familiar with him. I’ve seen him in your memes on Twitter. Now, we have some grounding here in terms of where this comes from, what it’s about, but in what you’ve learned, tell me: What is this theory about? Where does it come from?

Mr. Rufo: James is probably one of the top people to explain the theoretical ideas. In short, it’s really this idea that emerges from critical theory and then critical legal theory, which became metamorphosized into critical race theory that holds that in the United States—for example, that the United States was founded on racism, slavery and oppression, and that our constitutional structure, the words of the [United States] Declaration [of Independence], and even the law as it exists today are merely a cover story for racial oppression and dominance hegemony.

They seek to essentially deconstruct all of the principles around the Western canon of law, around rationality itself, around objectivity, around science, around math, they want to essentially destroy all of those to reveal what they believe is the essence, which is a kind of racial power struggle.

As James will tell you, it emerges as an adaptation of traditional Marxism that divided the world into an oppressive capitalist class and an oppressed proletariat class that was divided on an economic axis. That of course has failed generation after generation after generation since it first gained dominance in 1848. What they’ve done since then, starting with the Frankfurt School and then moving to the critical race theorists in the 1990s, they’ve tried to basically supplant economic stratification with a system of racial stratification.

Unfortunately, it’s been a tremendously powerful narrative that has really embedded itself in our institutions and become, in essence, the default ideology of federal agencies. Even though nobody has voted on it, it’s never been passed through legislation, it has no constitutional or popular support, and yet it’s taken over institutions.

My role, a compliment to what James is doing on a theoretical side, is to do the investigative work to expose it, to have the political process take place. Really, Americans are left with a choice: do we want government by critical race theory, or do we want government by the Constitution?

Mr. Jekielek: That is a very strong thing to say, that it’s become the default ideology in many agencies. Can you outline some of the evidence that you see that has taken that stronghold?

Mr. Rufo: One of the stories that I broke that I think is a good example of that is the Sandia National Laboratories which designs America’s nuclear arsenal has been subjugating employees to the ideology of critical race theory. For years, I had a number of whistleblowers and leakers within the institution that say they are barraged, and harassed, and intimidated with a constant stream of ideological messaging and propaganda from executives.

And in one of the most egregious cases, the Sandia Labs sent their white male executives to essentially a reeducation camp designed to expose their own whiteness, to deconstruct white male culture, and then to really publicly denounce themselves and apologize for those characteristics which, in the training, were told that represent vestigial white supremacy and psychologically internalized oppression.

This is just unthinkable and yet, most employees have simply gone along and along and along with the program out of fear of intimidation, out of fear of retaliation, and in a sense, it is the default ideology. One of the main people who attended the workshop and was appraising the workshop was the chief engineer of nuclear weapons.

This is not something that is a fringe element that’s in a corporate cafeteria in the corner. This is emerging from the top. It’s really captured the minds of many of the United States top bureaucrats across many agencies, and I think that it’s extremely destructive. When we expose it to light, when we bring it to the public view, Americans are almost unanimously horrified by what they see, they don’t recognize American principles in this ideology, and I think they’re starting to demand that it stop.

Mr. Jekielek: The incredible thing about what you just said is that people are forced to apologize for something they have no control over.

Mr. Rufo: That’s right. I think the challenge that critical race theory lays out is explicit.  The founder of critical race theory, Derrick Bell at Harvard, in his writings made quite clear that really the entire constitutional order must be contested, and challenged, and exposed, and deconstructed.

The traditional legal framework that we’ve operated in since the Fourteenth Amendment promises equal protection under the law for individuals, and critical race theory directly and explicitly attacks that concept. And what they want to replace it with is inequality under the law by group identity. This is a radical difference.

I don’t think most Americans understand that this is really the root vision of critical race theory. It’s adapted and translated into HR Speak once it becomes a training session in the federal agency, but the premise, the presupposition, the predicate of these arguments is something that is radical and is something that is explicitly in opposition to the constitutional order.

Mr. Jekielek: Talking a little bit more about the theory, I think the argument basically is, to the lay person that might be attracted to the argument, the argument is, the white people have had the power and the control, and were racist towards blacks and people of color and so forth in the past, so now, we’re going to use this to equalize things.

Mr. Rufo: In critical race theory and in these trainings, there is a grain of truth, right? If you look at historically, in the United States, it is absolutely undebatable that there have been inequalities, there have been oppressions, there have been major problems. But I think that the goal though is to talk about that, and then figure out ways that we can create more equality, we can create more unity, we can bring people together.

But unfortunately, critical race theory at the theoretical level doesn’t believe in a vision of equality under the law. They believe in replacing historical inequality with a new inequality based on their terminology and their framework in the present day, and in practice, it doesn’t bring people together.

I’ve had testimony from literally hundreds of people that say critical race theory based trainings are tearing their institutions apart, are dividing people within their companies, and their universities, and their schools, and their classrooms, and their government agencies, and even the United States military, at a moment when we should all be striving to come together and to be really trying to create greater freedom and equality, that vision, that came at the very beginning of the United States that we’ve always gone towards steadily and slowly, and sometimes with mistakes and problems.

But I think that vision holds. I think that the experience that we’ve been through as a country—we’ve been through so much and yet our framework, our Constitution, our system of government, has allowed for incredible progress. My contention is that we should build on progress towards greater freedom, equality, and unity, not try to essentially dismantle the system entirely and replace it with a new “woke” theocracy.

Mr. Jekielek: “Woke” theocracy. So how is this religious?

Mr. Rufo: It’s religious in many ways, but I think fundamentally, if you look at the ideology of critical race theory and in wokeness in general, it’s establishes a new cosmology or a new metaphysics of good and evil which is translated as “whiteness” and “blackness.”

These are unscientific, unmeasurable phenomena. A lot of the derivative material is cloaked in the language of social science, but it’s anything but scientific. It requires essentially a faith based understanding, and you can see even in the videos, that you see of the street protests.

You see people engaging in a kind of religious ritual, where people are chanting, and bending over, and bowing, and creating a new religious and spiritual language based on the core convictions of critical race theory. You see it on a theoretical level, you see it at an anti-rationality level, and you see it in practice in the streets in a ritualistic formulation.

I’m not the first person to say it, and I think many people have explored the religious dimension of wokeness, and some people, I think, including James Lindsay, are even calling that this is essentially a First Amendment violation. We are establishing a new public religion. I think he’s being maybe a little bit tongue in cheek, a little bit clever, but I think that this idea, his contention, is raising an important point that this kind of ideology that has started in academia has been laundered through the institutions and is now being essentially accepted or defended by the political left, is something that is new, is powerful, and we have to examine it thoroughly.

Mr. Jekielek: Let’s jump to the existence of this in government which has been the focus of your reporting. In fact, I think right now, there are Department of Energy, Department of Education investigations going on. There’s of course this executive order that was put out by the OMB [Office of Management and Budget ] director Russell Vought to prevent funding around this. Tell me, how many agencies or government bodies are you aware of that this type of training is being done in?

Mr. Rufo: Dozens and dozens and dozens. And corporately at the leadership level, this is being done at the federal agencies in D.C., but you’re also having a lot of these trainings in a more decentralized way. For example, Veterans Affairs or specific military bases or other departments that are spread out throughout the country.

I have dozens and dozens of examples. I have a spreadsheet of federal contracts that explicitly state that they are teaching this kind of principles. And yet, I’m absolutely certain that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Really, we’re flying blind because we only know, essentially, who is willing to come forward as a whistleblower. [Those] are the only things that we can really tangibly identify.

Nobody, including people at the highest levels of the federal government has any idea exactly how pervasive this is, exactly how many tens of millions of dollars we’re spending on subsidizing it, and exactly that magnitude, scope, and scale of critical race theory ideology in the federal government. I think that we’re just waking up to this.

I’m encouraged that there are at least half a dozen official federal investigations into this that are currently underway. I support those, and I hope that they can get to the bottom of it, to find out exactly what’s happening. And then that the political class, especially on the right and the center, can make a principled argument investigating the premises of critical race theory, exposing the practical consequences of it, and making an argument knowing full well that you will be attacked, that people will throw epithets straight your way.

But knowing that, I think, we have the morally justified position, the intellectually rigorous position, and I think also the politically consonant position with the majority of Americans.

Mr. Jekielek: Let’s take Sandia Labs, for example. What is the threat of this ideology achieving dominance at the nuclear laboratories from a national security perspective?

Mr. Rufo: I’ve had multiple sources and senior engineers within Sandia Labs tell me that this kind of training, this kind of essentially workplace harassment, and this toxic environment has chased away some of their top engineers over the last five years.

Now, there’s evidence that was released by one of the whistleblowers, a person who actually bravely stepped forward, Casey Peterson. A female engineer leaked to him and said, “What’s happening now on deciding what projects to take on and who to lead them, it’s being decided on the basis of race and gender rather than on the basis of competence and expertise.” Over time, my sources tell me [that] this could jeopardize the critical weapons programs and this could be, in essence, a threat to our own national security.

We are making an ideological decision to degrade our national nuclear laboratory scientific capacity in the name of critical race theory. I think that as more Americans understand exactly what’s happening, they’re going to demand that stops. The most important thing for our nuclear laboratories to be doing is science, engineering, and national defense. We should leave people’s ideology to their own private time and their own private resources.

Mr. Jekielek: You have a number of investigations going. I saw you had put up a document that just outlines some of them. Can you give me a rough picture? As you said, you’re a one man show, of course there’re a lot of people helping you and so forth. How many investigations are going on and which are the big ones?

Mr. Rufo: I have a database full of whistleblowers, documents, and complaints. It’s gotten so big that I haven’t even dove into the very beginning and basics of these. We’re getting a constant stream of documentation. I’m looking even to staff up, to be able to handle all this material, to source it, vet it, and report on it. There’s really no shortage of evidence and material. I think that the transition that I’m hoping to make is continuing to report.

Also, now that the president has asked for executive action on this issue, in a way we’ve won the battle, and it’s time to maybe celebrate, maybe take a short vacation. I think that the most important work now is to build on that executive action, to build on potentially some legislation that might go through Congress on this, and to cobble together a political coalition spanning the right, the center, and even people on the dissident left that are maybe liberals or progressives, who realized that the ideology of critical race theory is going way too far.

We need to create a political coalition and cobble together the political power in order to essentially defeat the dominant ideology in our institutions. Luckily, we’re making progress on that front, and I’ll tell you that it’s been absolutely unbelievable to see the coalition that’s formed behind this effort.

You have everyone from traditional establishment conservative think tanks, to progressive dissidents that are very much on the left, to scientists who have been criticizing woke ideology in the center, all coming together in unison and we are in some ways a ragtag bunch. It’s like the jolly army that’s come together, facing off against the most powerful institutions in the country. I think that what we can do is be successful in principle, in practice, and in the political realm.

Mr. Jekielek: Let’s briefly discuss what are the principles that unite this ragtag, as you describe it, group. One of them, obviously, you mentioned the freedom of speech in the First Amendment. Actually, I think maybe that bears some discussion because this wokeism or critical race theory doesn’t subscribe to free speech.

Mr. Rufo: That’s right. It’s certainly people who want to defend each and every one of the amendments of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and then the Constitution itself. The core conviction, again, across a very wide range of people, is that the American system, while imperfect and certainly having its flaws, is ultimately the best system.

It’s enabled a lot of the positive progress and changes that we’ve seen since the founding of the country, and that it is a system worth defending and preserving. I think the First Amendment is critical, but I also think the Fourteenth Amendment is equally critical, providing equal protection under the law.

A lot of these conservatives, and now liberals and centrists, really believe that wokeness is an existential threat to the institutions in the United States that actually work and actually get the job done, and it will divide us more than bring us together. I share that conviction even with my friends that are more on the left, [even though] we may disagree on a host of other issues. I’m seeing all kinds of incredible alliances and partnerships.

I’ll say this as well, what I’m seeing right now, at least among intellectuals, is a great realignment. You have many people on the left that have become disenchanted or disaffected, they’re seeking a new political home, and on behalf of the conservative movement, conservative institutions, conservative intellectuals, I’d like to welcome all of them into our big tent.

We can offer resources, protection, we can offer ideas, we can offer energy, we can offer access to the political system and power that some of those folks are no longer able to achieve on the left that has abandoned them. This is a realignment I’m seeing happening in real time. It’s exciting, it’s encouraging, and I hope it crystallizes into something that could be useful in the years to come.

Mr. Jekielek: Chris, clearly there’s a lot of dissent from this ideology, but what I’m super curious about is what makes our institutions—and this isn’t just in the U.S.; this is in Canada, my native land so to speak, as well—what makes them so susceptible to the ideology and this becoming embedded?

Mr. Rufo: I think two things. One is the messaging from critical race theory. … It’s attractive, right? Because it’s easy. It doesn’t require any of those old values that they denounce like hard work, meritocracy, individualization, intellectualization, the scientific method, objectivity. All of those things are hard. You have to actually work towards them.

Critical race theory is seductive because it creates a kind of philosophy that is extremely easy. You are born good or born evil. All you have to do is exist, and then you  should be bestowed pain or pleasure, reward or punishment based on those characteristics that are innate and inborn. So I think it’s quite easy, right? It’s seductive.

And I also think it’s been successful in institutions because imbedded in the arguments of critical race theory is this ingenious mouse trap, where they’re creating an argument saying the world, the country rather, is based on white supremacy and internalized racial superiority and internalized white privilege and white fragility, etc, etc.

If you contest that, if you say, “I disagree” or “no,” embedded in their argument is that’s actually just a sign that you do have internalized white supremacy. That you are reacting negatively to your white privilege. That you are expressing your white fragility. So, they’ve created this intellectual mouse trap.

And if you accept the argument on the surface, you are deterred, right? You’re going to be scared to speak up; you don’t want to be accused of thought crime. And that’s why it’s so important to go underneath the surface of the argument, to the premise of the argument, and to argue at that epistemological and metaphysical and rational level, where I think the arguments of critical race theory absolutely crumble – they can’t stand.

And that’s really what I hope emerges in the next however many days we have left, sixty days, before the next presidential election. Critical race theory as an intellectual construct is at the foundation of a lot of the debates that we’re seeing, a lot of the unrest that we’re watching unfold on the streets. And I really encourage intellectuals of all stripes who oppose it to have some courage to stand up and speak out and to make the case against critical race theory and in support of the founding institutions of the United States.

Mr. Jekielek: Chris, you mentioned a little earlier that there’s tens of millions of taxpayer dollars being spent on the trainings and so forth. Can you break down the funding of this? How much money is involved?

Mr. Rufo: It’s really hard to tell, and I’ve only scratched the surface, but even in very cursory kind of one-on-one level searching federal contract databases, I’ve understood that at the very, very tip of the iceberg minimum, we’re talking about tens of millions of dollars per year. And these are really coming in a couple different forms.

One form is that federal agencies are hiring outside consultants to serve as contractors or diversity consultants or lecturers within the departments. That’s one large source of funding. Another is organizations like The National Science Foundation and the Humanities Foundation, etc. are issuing grants to academics and other institutions to create the research base to support this.

And third, something that I’ve heard a lot of frightening reports on, you have now diversity offices within the federal government that are direct employees, that in some cases, my sources tell me, function as almost internal intelligence services with a mission to detect white supremacy, to detect unconscious bias, to detect whatever the flavor of the day is that they deem is bad. To root it out, and then to enforce this kind of ideology within the institutions.

I’ve had dozens of heartbreaking emails from people who said, I got into public service ten, twenty, twenty-five years ago, because I really wanted to make a difference in the government, make a difference in my community, and now I feel like I’m being essentially purged from the institution for my beliefs. I can’t speak out of fear of retaliation, and I’m at my wit’s end. What can you do to help?

And I’m trying to help those people too. These are in many cases, great people that work for the government, that have a heart for service. And now they’re facing this internal campaign that is ideologically based and deeply destructive to the functioning of our institutions.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s almost like these groupings, as you’re describing, they’re looking for examples of dissent to the ideology.

Mr. Rufo: That’s right. Yes. And dissent within these institutions is not tolerated. It’s dealt with actually very severely, and it happens in a couple forms. Obviously, there’s the official sanction of the institution. But really I think the most pernicious and dominant form of dissent crushing is social pressure, right?

So if you marshal the office to comply with the ideology, and you can marshal social forces and pressures and signaling, to essentially prevent any dissent before it starts, and then to scapegoat or retaliate against any dissent as it arises, you’ve created a very powerful dynamic.

Frankly, most people that are working nine-to-five, hoping to get a pension at the end of their government service are just going to say, “You know what, I give up. I’m going to be silent. I’m not going to push back. If they make me do this training, I’m just going to do it and plug my nose and participate.” But I think what you’re seeing now is that it’s changing, because these trainings have gotten so egregious, so destructive, and so discriminatory that you’re seeing employees starting to speak up publicly.

And then thankfully, you’re seeing institutions like the Department of Justice, investigating whether these training sessions are actually a violation of employee’s constitutional rights. And I’m highly interested in seeing what happens with that. I think that the next step is really a legal step. And I hope the Department of Justice continues, and I hope that some brave employees will be willing to step forward and file suit.

Mr. Jekielek: What are a couple of examples of the most egregious, as you describe, training materials that you’ve seen?

Mr. Rufo: The city of Seattle, really the first investigation that I did, has probably one of the most egregious training programs. Again, they segregated on the basis of race, which is the subject of the Department of Justice investigation. They have internalized white superiority and interrupting whiteness trainings for white employees and a separate training regimen and sessions for people of color.

So essentially, the argument they’re making is, “We need to fight racism by reinstating segregation.” That is so unbelievable. It could only happen in a city as ideologically off the charts as the city of Seattle.

And then the content of those trainings is also unbelievable. It is everything from calling out, again, things like rationality or individualism or meritocracy or objectivity as illusions of white supremacy. When you have a training program that attacks even the idea of objectivity what do you base any decision on?

Their idea embedded in this training program is that you shouldn’t base these things on either objectivity or science or rationality, you have to base them on group identity first and foremost. That’s very dangerous; that’s very bad. Even in a city like Seattle, where I believe 92 percent of people voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election—this is a very democratic city. I think even in the city of Seattle, if people simply took a glance at the PDFs, they would say, “I’m a person of the left; I support progressive ideas and policies, but this is outrageous, and it needs to stop.”

Mr. Jekielek: You’ve talked a little bit about the response, of course, of the government. We’ve been talking about a lot of people who don’t understand this ideology or got scared by what they saw in some of these training materials. But what about people that actually adhere to this ideology? Seattle is where you’re based, right? How have those people responded to what you’re doing?

Mr. Rufo: I would say in a lot of cases, obviously, there’s some people that respond negatively right? Anytime that you take a side in an issue like this and especially an issue where you have private firms and government institutions that are financially dependent on it, they’re going to defend it tooth and nail.

But at the same time, among people who are citizens, even left-leaning citizens in Seattle, I’ve had tons of private messages where people say, “Don’t tell anyone, please don’t share my name, but thank you so much. I’m a lifelong Democrat. I’m a progressive, but this stuff has no place in our public institutions. And I’m going to support you silently as our champion on this cause.”

Those messages are meaningful to me because I have understood that it’s not just what I’m fighting for or what I believe at all. It’s actually fighting on behalf of people who are feeling powerless, people who are feeling silenced, people who are feeling stigmatized, and feel like they don’t have a voice. I’m willing to step up and be that voice, fight the fight, and enjoy myself doing it, and try to keep going.

Mr. Jekielek: You’re not experiencing— There’s no personal cost for you here. That’s remarkable.

Mr. Rufo: There’s a personal cost, right? But there’s always a personal cost. There’s always a backlash; there’s always a counter attack; there’s always some harassment or intimidation. All of those things have happened to me. And yet, at the end of the day, in a Stoic or the Epictetus framework, that’s what they’re doing. They can make their decision and they’re going to do what they’re going to do. I’m making my decision, and I’m going to do what I’m going to do.

I’m trying to create a total separation between those two, because I’m not going to stop fighting. Whatever comes my way, I’m going to keep plowing forward. Even though we’re going up against some of the most powerful institutions in the country, I know that I’m going to be victorious. I know that I have the morally justified position. I know that I have the intellectually dominant position. And at the end of the day, when the dust settles and the smoke clears, we are going to be victorious in this fight. I have no doubt in my mind.

Mr. Jekielek: I noticed on various social media, you being challenged, you throwing down the gauntlet. How’s any of this played out? Have you had a debate with anyone?

Mr. Rufo: I’d love to debate but so far, I’ve had no takers. We had Brian Stelter, the most famous bobblehead on CNN, put out a dishonest and lazy piece, attacking the President’s action, attacking my research leading up to it. I challenged him directly, and he didn’t take it. I think that shows a sign that he’s probably scared. He doesn’t want to take it because he knows that he would be forced to defend the indefensible.

Ultimately, that’s the game. right? If we’re going to win, I think the strategy that we take is that we take those specific instances, and ask anyone that is supporting it, “Do you think that objectivity is racist? Do you think that meritocracy should be destroyed in the favor of allocation by identity? Do you think that in reinstituting racial segregation should be government policy? etc.” And I think what we’ll find is that you’re going to have people absolutely cower and crumble over those specific instances.

The coverage from the New York Times, from the Washington Post, from NPR has been cynical and dishonest. Because they’re framing it as “Chris Rufo and Donald Trump don’t like diversity training” in those squiggly capital and uncapitalized letters that you might see on Twitter.

When in the reality, I’m pretty much on the record against documented and specific instances of racial segregation, race essentialism, and racial harassment which I believe are wrong and I believe are antithetical to our order and actually violations of people’s constitutional rights. I’ll fight on that ground any day of the week.

Mr. Jekielek: Chris, before we finish up, I wanted to just draw a little bit of attention to some of your other work. This is about a month and some for you. This has been like a whirlwind. You don’t typically see action on reporting at the speed that I’ve been watching this develop. I remember when it started, because I remember James pointed it out to me, so to speak.

You’ve also done work in San Francisco. You have this short film on homelessness. I found that to be quite powerful. It reminded me of myself living in San Francisco and seeing maybe the beginnings of that years ago. You also have another film, “Lost in America,” I hope I have that right. Has critical race theory, investigative reporting, taken over all now or are there other vantage points that you’re pursuing? I don’t know when you’d have the time for them.

Mr. Rufo: Yes, I know. I’m going on all fronts and trying to stay sane, trying to fuel myself with very strong cold brew coffee. But I’m still working on homelessness; I’m working on addiction; I’m working on housing. I just released a paper on federal housing policy for the Heritage Foundation. I’m working on another short documentary that we’re in editing on the recent unrest and the potential for mob rule in Seattle, Washington. And I’m fighting on all fronts.

But certainly, last week, since Tucker Carlson, getting this amazing victory with the President’s executive action, my head has been spinning. I’m all in right now, but I think as the media cycle dies down, I’m really going to be able to rebalance my efforts and my workload, and continuing to fight certainly for the next sixty days on critical race theory reporting, but also not forgetting that my real research focus for the last several years has been on those human problems of poverty, homelessness, mental illness and addiction.

I think that you can look at it as two levels. We’re fighting the intellectual fight in the federal arena on critical race theory. But I’m also trying to make that difference in the lives of people that are suffering from homelessness, addiction and mental illness.

Mr. Jekielek: Any final words before we finish up?

Mr. Rufo: Yes, I noticed in the prep materials, you said you wanted to talk about some of the memes that have been going around. That has been something that is [fun]. I’ve never really been in the meme world, except for the last month or so as this reporting has taken off, but that’s been a lot of fun. It’s been another interesting form of communication. And I say thanks to my main meme master and to all the folks that are contributing these fun, uplifting, and irreverent content. It’s a lot of fun, and keep the memes flowing.

Mr. Jekielek: Chris Rufo, such a pleasure to have you on.

Mr. Rufo: Thank you.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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