Republican lawmakers and conservative activists have been targeting 'critical race theory' for months now.
The head of the committee to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives said in a report published Friday that attacking anti-racism efforts is the most important issue for the 2022 midterm elections.
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) is the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is tasked with electing Republican candidates. In a statement to McClatchy, Emmer said that the party is focused on attacking "critical race theory."
"Parents all over the country have been mobilized because they do not want their children being taught they are automatically racist because of their skin color. I fully expect Democrats’ support for this controversial theory to be at the center of 2022 campaigns," said Emmer.
"The most compelling electoral issues are those that focus on the issue of fairness, and that’s why critical race theory will be incredibly damaging to every vulnerable Democrat."
Critical race theory has traditionally been the academic study of the role systemic racism plays in America. In the months since losing the 2020 election, Republicans and conservatives have been focused on attacking the very idea of it.
Experts in the field of critical race theory and education have said it's a way for Republicans to stoke racist animosity as a way of motivating their voters.
In recent months, congressional Republicans have proposed legislation that would prohibit the government from supporting efforts to fight racism, describing those efforts as "critical race theory."
Legislation introduced in June by Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) called for a ban on anti-racism training within the military. A report commissioned by a group of Republican lawmakers insisted that such training weakens the combat readiness of the armed forces.
But military leaders have pushed back on this campaign. Admiral Michael Gilday, the Navy's chief of operations, testified in a June congressional hearing that the military's approach to racism is "not to sweep it under the rug, and to talk about it."
Conservative activists have been a part of this campaign as well and have organized protests against school boards for purportedly teaching K-12 students "critical race theory."
In the instance of Loudoun County, Virginia, where such protests have attracted attention from the national media, the school board unequivocally said the theory was not being taught to K-12 students.
In addition to actions from Republican elected officials and conservative activists, the campaign is being inflamed by right-wing media. According to a report from Media Matters for America, Fox News mentioned "critical race theory" over 1,900 times in a 3 1/2-month period.
Republicans have then in turn used the coverage to justify legislation and rhetoric on the topic.
Polling has shown that the public is not concerned about "critical race theory" in the manner that the right is asserting. A June poll from Morning Consult found that the vast majority of voters — 52% — have never heard of it or have heard about it and had no opinion on it.
By contrast, 48% of Republican voters had heard about it and held unfavorable views on the topic.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.