A man of science once wrote that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Keeping those words in mind, I knew that it was only a matter of time during this so-called period of racial reckoning we are allegedly experiencing before conservative, right-wing, white nationalists, Southern apologists and historical revisionists would mount an effective counter-attack.
Across the nation, the method of attack members of the former Republican Party, now the Trump Political Party, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have settled on is to sound the alarm against any teaching of institutional and systemic racism — using the critical racial theory or the 1619 Project, the Pulitzer Prize-winning series of written and photographic essays, poems and narrative fiction published by The New York Times in August of 2019 — in public schools.
Teaching about white privilege or the influence of institutional racism on an oppressed minority or present evidence that racism was a key part of the nation’s beginnings and created imbalances that are still with us today, instead of focusing on American exceptionalism, is not what educators should be doing to impressionable young minds, especially white ones, according to these legislators.
They also have called for defunding schools that choose to teach anything that points out the less-pleasant sides of America’s history or restricting how such things are taught.
From the Bottom where I see things, here’s another example of these people being all about state and local autonomy, as long as they agree with it.
According to the lead writer of the project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the goal was to re-imagine and examine the legacy of slavery in the United States starting with the 1619 arrival of 19 Africans to the British colony in Virginia, and challenge the idea that the history of the United States began in 1776 or with the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.
Saying that not everybody agreed with Hannah-Jones and the Times would be a vast understatement.
A few days ago, McConnell referred to the 1619 Project as an “exotic notion.” Others have gone further in denouncing it and any other material that doesn’t sugarcoat the nation’s “original sin” of slavery.
In Tennessee, state Rep. Justin Lafferty, a current Cult member from Knoxville, resorted to defending the infamous Three-Fifth Compromise that was part of the original Constitution of the United States of America, saying that it was an anti-slavery measure.
In case you have forgotten or never knew, the compromise reached by our Founding Fathers was that for the sake of representation and taxation purposes, enslaved people would count as three-fifths of a person.
Northern representatives at the Constitutional Convention argued that slaves should not be counted at all in population totals.
Southerners wanted them to be fully counted, thereby strengthening the South’s political power, and protecting slavery from any attempts to get rid of their “peculiar” institution.
Lafferty said, “The Three-Fifths compromise was a direct effort to ensure that Southern states never got the population necessary to continue the practice of slavery everywhere else in the country.
“By limiting the number of population in the count, they specifically limited the number of representatives that would be available in the slaveholding states, and they did it for the purpose of ending slavery — well before Abraham Lincoln, well before Civil War. Do we talk about that? I don’t hear that anywhere in this conversation across the country.”
There’s a good reason why he doesn’t hear that in the conversation or any lessons. It’s not true.
Lafferty isn’t alone; a conservative right-wing legislator in Colorado in 2019 said the compromise did not impugn anybody’s humanity.
Another in Oregon said that the Compromise was not rooted in a belief by Founding Fathers that three-fifths was an appropriate measure of a man.
Historians don’t count the compromise as anything close to being an anti-slavery measure.
Most agree that the compromise “sanctioned slavery more decidedly than any previous action at a national level” because, while not technically codifying slavery into law, it acknowledged a difference between free people and “other persons.”
They also agree that, overall, it was good for the South and the institution of slavery.
But the North didn’t come away empty-handed. They were able to prohibit slavery in their states and the Northwest Territory, which would later become non-slavery states that eventually gave them the population advantage that was crucial when the Civil War broke out.
There is nothing in the historical record to suggest this was a slick political maneuver by Northern states to gain an advantage they would use some 80 years later to help fight and win a war.
The other thing that is getting conservative’s educational undergarments in a wad is critical race theory, which asserts that historical patterns of discrimination in these United States against nonwhite people have created disadvantages based on race.
Like many things that become right-wing talking points, I didn’t know much about critical race theory, so I looked up the definition, watched a few videos pro and con, and read articles about it.
Once I was done, it was clear why they have a problem with it being taught in public spaces — it hits too close to home.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, critical race theory is an intellectual movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings, but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color.
Critical race theorists believed that the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African-Americans.
In the early 21st century, critical race theorists addressed themselves to a number of issues, including police brutality and criminal justice, hate speech and hate crimes, health care, affirmative action, poverty and the welfare state, immigration, and voting rights.
I appreciate the right for “waking” me to this theory.
JENNER FOR GOVERNOR?
Attention, national media!
Did we not learn our lesson about becoming infatuated with a political outlier with no governing experience who is known more for being a television reality star and celebrity of some kind?
Without the constant media attention he received in the seconds and minutes after he descended his golden escalator in 2015, Donald Trump would have never come close to becoming the Republican nominee or reaching the White House by winning an Electoral College victory.
Now the national media has focused their lens and keyboards on Caitlyn Jenner, who has tossed her hat into the ring for the upcoming governor recall election in California.
Jenner is a former Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, turned actor, turned broadcaster, turned reality star who transitioned from being the patriarch of the Kardashian Jenner clan to being another matriarch alongside ex-wife Kris several years ago.
In the span of five days last week, I saw portions of interviews with Jenner on all four major television networks reactivating my Trump PTSD.
Here’s hoping Californians remember how the last recall election turned out for them and don’t take her bid to replace Gavin Newsome as seriously as the national news media have.
Hi, Momma Lois. Goodbye Aunt Agnes, I’ll miss your laugh and smile.
TONY KENDALL of Hazel is a writer, teacher, actor, playwright and sports fanatic. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.