We won’t be teaching history, because learning about it might trigger anxiety in white people.
We won’t be teaching science, because the theory of evolution offends Christian conservatives.
We won’t be teaching literature, because the list of banned books covers most of the library.
And now, we won’t be teaching math, because it’s too woke.
Yes, the Florida Department of Education recently rejected dozens of math textbooks for its K-12 curriculum, because they “incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including [critical race theory].”
Obviously, conservative lawmakers won’t be happy until public education consists of nothing but home economics, Bible study, and five hours of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
On its own, Florida’s absurdly laughable decision might not seem like part of a larger scheme. And indeed, the Republican Party is not big on strategic thinking, rational planning, or logical conclusions. So let’s not view this bizarre maneuver as some kind of master move in a game of 4D chess. It’s more like the kneejerk reaction of a paranoid lunatic who screams in agony every time someone says “critical race theory.”
It does fit into a larger pattern, however, which is the GOP’s obsession with CRT. And this, in turn, is symptomatic of the Republican goal to maintain power by terrifying the shit out of Americans.
You see, for decades now, the GOP “has pursued a consistent strategy,” which is to scapegoat a “misunderstood or marginalized group, convince voters that the members of that group pose an existential threat to society, and then ride to victory on the promise of using state power to crush them.”
In conservative culture, there is a clear line of imaginary monsters that stretches from the Black gangbanger to the Muslim terrorist to the Latino undocumented freeloader to the trans pedophile. These panics often diverge into side scares focused on gay people spreading AIDS or immigrant caravans or women having daily abortions.
In all cases, however, conservatives never actually cease their hatred for a demonized demographic. They simply reprioritize which small group is the biggest threat to America at that moment.
Right now, conservatives can’t decide if they hate CRT liberal elites pushing racial divisions more than they despise trans swimmers stealing medals from teenage girls. No problem—Republicans can loathe both, and in fact, the “attacks on teaching about sexual orientation and gender are similar to the attacks on teaching so-called critical race theory.”
Republicans have discovered multitasking, and that can’t be good news.
In any case, one reason why conservatives have been so effective at attacking minorities is that Americans “across the political spectrum accept the premise that defending a marginalized group’s civil rights is ‘identity politics,’ while choosing to strip away those rights is not.”
So gay and trans people want the same rights as other Americans? They are indulging in identity politics.
But conservatives who want to pass laws specifically targeting those groups? They are simply protecting traditional values.
It will be interesting, of course, to see which group Republicans vilify once their attacks on CRT and trans people get old. Maybe they’ll go after immigrants again or focus on atheists or spew invectives against ambidextrous dentists. Who knows?
But there will always be another tiny demographic to blame for all of America’s problems—and conservatives will always be right there to let you know who you should hate now.
Featured image: nchoz/CC BY-NC 2.0