Shortly after a police officer was convicted of murdering George Floyd, there was talk of the dawning of racial reckoning in the United States.
This event, it was said, would open new avenues for honest conversation about how racism and its corrosive effects throughout our society might be approached, confronted and eventually eradicated.
I saw this as a dim hope. We have had many such opportunities in recent years, and none of them has moved us close to a fruitful discussion. All our opportunities have evaporated almost as soon as they were glimpsed.
Nothing has changed. The Republican party has seen to that. Its campaign against “Critical Race Theory” will doom all efforts to talk about racism, white supremacy, white nationalism and other subjects that some white people will find offensive.
CRT started as an obscure academic exercise examining social, cultural and legal issues relating to race and racism. It may have been taught in law school or other advanced studies. It was never taught in American high schools or elementary schools. And it never will be.
Because the GOP has found a way to turn CRT into a political weapon. Mainly by spinning wild stories about it, most of them approximately 97.5% untrue. And Republican-dominated state legislatures are falling over themselves passing laws to outlaw the teaching of it.
What this means is that whenever a teacher starts a discussion about race, a white student is going to freak out and parents are going to shout “Critical Race Theory!” and the teacher is going to get fired. It won’t take long before everybody gets the point.
In the United States, you cannot have a discussion about race. It is illegal.
That’s only the start, of course. But if you can shut down this discussion, think about what other things you can make sure nobody talks about. Way to go, GOP.