ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.
The latest in a long line of bogeymen our right-wing friends have dragged out into the public arena (Mr. Potato Head, Dr. Seuss) is something perhaps mislabeled as “Critical Race Theory.”
I personally heard this from the leader of the local Torches & Pitchforks group at last week’s Wayland Board of Education meeting, whilst once again threatening to pull children out of the local school system if masks are required and the hybrid model of instruction is extended.
The leader dissed CRT as “just a theory,” just like opponents of teaching evolution have liked to do. Similar “grass-roots” uprisings have been reported at school board meetings in Lowell and Grand Ledge and frankly all over the place.
Yet I’m willing to bet very few if any of those up in arns about CRT really understand what it is. And, as Martin Board of Education President Art Shook pointed out, “It’s not in our curriculum.” CRT is simply the recognition that customary teaching of U.S. history hasn’t included the whole truth in retelling the story of America’s past — warts and all.
Some fear CRT encourages hatred of white people. The way I see it, CRT only insists we face the truth, no matter how ugly it may get. If we don’t, we wind up with cynical, mistrustful curmudgeons in our midst (like me), people who believe they’ve been lied to about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Stork and the Tooth Fairy and U.S. history.
As I have reported often in this space, I take history very seriously. I consider myself as a lifelong student and lover of the subject. It was my major in college and I have used it a lot since in my career as a community journalist.
Yet I was never taught in high school or college about President Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears. I was never taught back then about the Wounded Knee massacre. I was never taught about the Tulsa race riots. I was never told about President Woodrow Wilson’s obvious racism.
Something like CRT is the fight against sanitized and incomplete historical accounts. It doesn’t have requirements, except that history as it truly happened be taught to students.
Let the students of the future decide about such unpleasant developments. I believe most will add up the pros and cons and opt for the former in assessing what America did in the past. Armed with the truth, they will be better able to avoid being condemned to repeat those mistakes.
Georges Santayana was spot on when he said, “Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”