Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said on May 21 that he opposes teaching critical race theory being taught in the state’s public schools, claiming that the ideas pushed by its advocates are “based on false history” and are “teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other.”
DeSantis made the remarks at a May 21 press conference in Pensacola, where he announced the signing of a bill temporarily establishing several statewide tax-free periods on items like storm supplies and back-to-school products.
“It’s offensive to the taxpayer that they would be asked to fund critical race theory, that they would be asked to fund teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other,” DeSantis said.
In a recent interview on NTD’s “Focus Talk,” Yiatin Chu, an Asian mother of two and co-chair of the New York chapter of the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR), described critical race theory as pushing the idea that disparate outcomes, such as academic competency scores, can be reduced to a single variable: race.
Advocates of the theory, which she said is increasingly being taught at pre-college levels, push the socialist notion of equality of outcome, and blame differences in outcomes on entrenched privilege while dividing people into “oppressors” and their victims, the “oppressed.”
Republicans across the nation are trying to prevent the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms.
Recently, South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem took aim at both the “1619 Project” and critical race theory. Like DeSantis, she voiced opposition to their incorporation into school curriculums.
“The 1619 Project relies upon the concept of Critical Race Theory to further divide students based on the color of their skin,” Noem wrote in a series of May 21 tweets. “This is inappropriate and un-American. It has no place in South Dakota, and it certainly has no place in South Dakota classrooms.”
The “1619 Project,” inaugurated with a special issue of The New York Times Magazine, has attempted to cast the Atlantic slave trade as the dominant factor in the founding of the United States, rather than ideals such as individual liberty and natural rights. The initiative has been widely panned by historians and political scientists, with some critics calling it a bid to rewrite U.S. history through a left-wing lens.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the 1619 Project, responded to the GOP criticism of the project during an interview with MSNBC on May 3, saying the 1619 curriculum being allowed in schools is a matter of free speech.
“This isn’t a project about trying to teach children that our country is evil, but it is a project trying to teach children the truth about what our country was based upon, and it’s only in really confronting that truth—slavery was foundational to the United States. We, after the slavery, experienced 100 years of legalized discrimination against black Americans,” Hannah-Jones said. “Mitch McConnell and others like him want for our children to get a propagandistic, nationalistic understanding of history that is not about facts, but it is about how they would want to pretend that our country is.”
Proponents of critical race theory have argued that it’s needed to demonstrate what they say is “pervasive systemic racism” and to facilitate rooting it out.
Critics have drawn parallels between critical race theory and Marxism, arguing that the concept advocates for the destruction of institutions, such as the Western justice system, free-market economy, and orthodox religions, demanding that they be replaced with institutions compliant with the critical race theory ideology.
Masooma Haq contributed to this report.