CO Republicans Manufacture Outrage Over Critical Race Theory

(It’s not just a river in Egypt – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown.

Colorado Republican Party Leader Kristi Burton Brown and other prominent Republicans in the state have joined the national conservative frenzy around critical race theory.

Critical race theory is the academic concept of structural racism – the idea that racism is not simply a matter of individual prejudice, but is also embedded in our institutions and has a continued impact on our society.

It’s the latest conservative boogeyman, with many on the political right claiming that critical race theory is itself racist, anti-American, and “Marxist.” Some states have gone so far as to limit teaching about history and racism in the U.S. in an effort to ban critical race theory in schools, despite the fact that critical race theory is primarily studied in institutions of higher learning, not a third-grade classroom.

Cue Brown, who took to the radio last week to rile up listeners about critical race theory “being forced on or about to be forced on” kids in Colorado schools:

“One of the biggest issues around the state is critical race theory, without a doubt, because parents, I mean, shocker, parents don’t want their children to sit in school and be told that by virtue of things they cannot help, their race, their ethnicity, they are either the oppressed or the oppressor,” Brown said on 630 KHOW on Friday. “None of their choices matter. None of their character matters. Nothing they choose to do in their behavior can change the fact, according to critical race theory, that they are either an oppressed or an oppressor.”

Brown then praised Deborah Flora, whom she refers to simply as a “Douglas County mom,” for “speaking out” about critical race theory at her local school board meeting.

“As Deborah points out, reading rates and math rates are very, very bad for children here in Colorado,” Brown said. “But that’s not what the school boards in many cases are focused on. They’re focused on critical race theory and teaching children that.”

“Have your children been subjected to critical race theory? Have you testified and given your thoughts on it?” Brown asked listeners, encouraging them to call in to the station and speak up at school board meetings.

But Flora is more than just a Douglas County mom – she’s also a conservative media personality and activist who hosts a radio show on KNUS, the same far-right radio network that allegedly fired Craig Silverman for criticizing Trump on air.

In fact, a report released yesterday by the progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America reveals that many of the parents that conservatives describe as “everyday Americans” speaking out against critical race theory at school board meetings and elsewhere just so happen to be Republican operatives and media personalities.

The Colorado conservative talk radio show that Brown hosted last week also played a clip from Quisha King, whom Brown introduced as “a black mom in Duvall County, Florida, who took her opportunity at a school board meeting to slam critical race theory.” MMFA reports that King, who also appeared on Fox News, is also a Republican strategist who served as a regional engagement coordinator for the Republican National Committee in 2020 and now runs a political media consulting firm.

“I don’t want to have [my son] grow up and be defined by his skin color and be assigned a permanent status that he had no choice or control over any more than Quisha King, that black mom in Florida, wants to see her children defined by that. And I think that’s something that unites us as moms across the nation,” Brown said.

Another recent MMFA report shows how the topic has exploded on Fox News. The network has mentioned critical race theory over 1,300 times in the past three and a half months, with mentions doubling month over month, as shown in the graph below:

Fox News talking head Christopher Rufo, who’s also a senior fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute, admitted on the network that the critical race theory frenzy is part of a political strategy, MMFA reported:

“Yes, I envisioned a strategy—turn the brand ‘critical race theory’ toxic—and, despite having virtually no resources compared to my opponents, willed it into being through writing and persuasion,” Rufo said.

Fear-mongering over what kids are “subjected” to at school appears to be a useful conduit for conservatives’ moral panic du jour, from sex ed to inclusivity for transgender kids to covid-19 measures. It all seems to be a part of Republican operatives’ strategy to manufacture outrage by promoting misinformation and propping up operatives as everyday people.

Take, for example, the issue of mask-wearing in schools as another case study.

In an April Fox News segment on mask mandates with Tucker Carlson, Carlson gave a shoutout to Stacy Adair, whom he refers to simply as “an elementary school teacher” in Colorado Springs:

“Adair showed a photograph of what a kindergartner’s face looks like just an hour into the school day,” Carlson said. “The mask the kindergartner was covered to wear was covered in dirt around the mouth and nose. ‘I don’t need to tell you it is very unhealthy for a student to breathe through this mask,’ Adair told the board. Of course it is. But officials ignored her and then they doubled down.”

FEC United Email

Adair, it turns out, works for FEC United, a local right-wing activist group, as the leader of their Pikes Peak Education pillar, according to a February email from the organization asking supporters to show up for meetings.

During her radio appearance last week, Brown emphasized that focusing on education is part of the GOP’s strategy to win over unaffiliated voters:

“Education is one of the most important issues to unaffiliated swing moderate voters around the nation. Whatever else you care or don’t care about, you care about your kids if you have them,” Brown said. “Children are a huge issue for voters today.”

Critical race theory has also been criticized by members of Colorado’s congressional delegation.

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-CO) has called for banning critical race theory in schools, calling it “nothing more than modern-day racism” and claiming that “Democrats want to teach our children to hate each other.”

Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) said on Fox News this week that “Marxist” critical race theory aims to “drive a wedge between Americans.”

“I would challenge Americans to find out whether this is being taught in their own schools and to make sure that they hold their school boards accountable,” Buck said.

31 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Moderatus says:

    Americans are sick and tired of having every mistake in history thrown back in the face of current generations who had nothing to do with those historical wrongs. Everyone knows that slavery was wrong now, but if you're not willing to accept that America had made tremendous strides since then you're blind.

    I found this Bill Maher video surprisingly useful.

    • unnamed says:

      And yet cops still kill black people for the most trivial of offenses they may or may not have committed.

      Besides, you want to make Gay people pay for being Gay and the have-nots pay for being have-nots, so you shouldn't be talking, nutlid.

    • Highlands Ranch says:

      And yet what you seem to not understand is that those “mistakes” carried on to a deep structural legacy of inequity from which so many are blissfully unaware that they benefited.  And not just slavery, but the “mistakes” that are far closer in time.  For example, there used to be a large number of black farmers, but the New Deal crushed them and put them out of business as local farm coops made the determination of who received aid and loans . . . and the majority white farmers sure as heck made sure it was not the black farmers and bought up their land for a song.  Same thing happened in the 1980s with the DoA which was subject to a class action.  And the most powerful builder of the great American middle-class, the GI Bill, was systematically not available to returning black Veterans of WWII.  So all those amazing Greatest Generation soldiers who came home and used the GI Bill to obtain an education/skills and a 100% LTV low interest loan to move into the new suburbs with great schooling, police and infrastructure, did not include the black American GIs who also served so well.   And that legacy has benefited today’s generation, has it not? 

    • spaceman2021 says:

      Oh Moddy.  Just admit that you like white supremacy and don't want to learn things

  2. NOV GOP meltdown says:

    unemployment benefits, border security, masks, transgender athletes, benghazi, her emails, Mr. Potato Head, Dr. Seuss. Critical race theory is the outrage du jour, and the pissing and moaning continues.

  3. 2Jung2Die says:

    Serious question – can anyone provide an actual example of a Colorado school(s) teaching CRT? One rule, name the school and course or it didn't happen.

    Not saying I'm old, but I've been out of school a while, and CRT to me means cathode ray tube.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      I don't hang around many schools, but can tell you that some of the students in co-curricular policy debate competitions get a taste of Critical Race Theory (and Critical Feminist Theory) in order to argue Kritik positions.  Not sure if they get it as "coursework" or "coaching" — and not absolutely certain all who use the argument understand the philosophical basis that would allow them to use it outside debate. 

      On the other hand, I'm very clear that even those who "just" argue it understand it much better than nearly all Fox News broadcast personalities, state legislators, school board members, and parents with political ideology who are mouthing off about it.

  4. kwtree says:

    I’ve taught “critical race theory” in its broadest senses, for the last 20 years.
    We call it “multicultural education” or “culturally responsive education”. 
    People who hate critical race theory hate the liberal Multiculturalism just as much. For a good discussion of how that culturally responsive education tradition compares to the academic critical race theory, see this Edweek article

    That is, I’ve taught that racism ( and other forms of discrimination) were integral to the founding of America, were embedded in law but being rectified and “dug out of” law,  that they still exist and have concrete impacts on people’s lives.

    Jung wanted to know courses and where they were taught. 
    Almost every high school in America has an American Literature,  Contemporary Literature, American History, European History ( up to WWII) course. Many also have a Social Issues course,( post WWII including modern civil rights movements), or Chicano History, or African American History. In my own high school, I was lucky enough to be in such a course taught by the late great Regis Groff in his pre-legislator days. 

    The American Lit and American History courses do emphasize the white male European conqueror Manifest Destiny point of view. But they also include Indigenous , Spanish, Asian, Black literature, as well as historical narratives and primary sources from these perspectives, and that of women from all backgrounds, including European groups who were discriminated against. Irish, Polish, Jewish, and Slavic authors are part of the canon, too.
    So even that limited representation would be anathema to a true blue “Western Civilization Values” proponent.

    Middle and elementary schools all now include literature and history from non-white points of view, all at appropriate grade and developmental levels. It’s not particularly revolutionary, and tends perhaps to be overly optimistic about social equality being already accomplished, but it’s there.

    Examples: Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.” Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. The works of Langston Hughes, Amy Tan, Anne Frank, Sandra Cisneros, Corky Gonzalez. Etc.

    Where it gets uncomfortable is on the bleeding edge of everyday experience- today, students of color are more likely to be expelled, more likely to be segregated, have inexperienced teachers, proceed from school into prison, be profiled and ticketed by police, live in poverty, and die early. That is a reality most liberal teachers are discouraged from exploring in depth.


    • 2Jung2Die says:

      Thanks, kwt, this is helpful. Guess I’ve got a lot of learning to do. I since found one college prof talking about an actual graduate-level course in CRT. I was honestly imagining that there might be specific courses or units in K-12, but what you’re describing seems like it’s incorporating some amount of perspective into existing courses.

  5. davebarnes says:

    You misspelled his name. It is Mfucker Carlson.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Carlson has his uses. Saw on Yahoo News today that a lot of the dirt on Trump, exposed by mainstream media during his presidency, actually originated via off-the-record hints from Tucker.

  6. jimmay says:

    No one gave you the right nor the privilege of speaking for Americans, Moderatus. In fact, you represent a tiny and always shrinking demographic of dumb, angrily entitled conservatives that can’t even win nationally anymore without partisan gerrymandering and racist vote suppression. By the way, that racist voter suppression your sad cult of a political party is so consistently caught doing red handed is exactly why we need critical race theory taught in schools.

  7. Genghis says:

    Brown, like all other RepubliQans, wouldn't recognize critical race theory if it walked up to her, introduced itself, shook her hand, dropped trou, and took a massive, steaming dump on her shoes.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Interesting point. For me, CRT is one of those highly academic theories that few people really understand. Which is why it’s becoming a focal point for the far right.

      CRT will be joining BLM, antifa, socialism, defund the police and other far left mantras as part of the far right outreach to low informed voters in next year’s mid-terms.

      And this does work. Dems lost a couple US House seats in south Florida last year with socialism and defund playing roles.

      • Genghis says:

        For me, CRT is one of those highly academic theories that few people really understand. Which is why it’s becoming a focal point for the far right.

        Exactly so, CHB, and I agree that it'll likely bear fruit. Seems probable at this point that the "defund the police" idiocy cost the Dems a House seat or two, and maybe a couple of Senate elections as well. Americans being stupid, poorly educated, gullible and racist, making up a load of "feel sorry for the poor downtrodden white race" nonsense and slapping the CRT label on it has the potential to be even more successful.

  8. Duke Cox says:

    Critical Race Theory…

    First…not a theory.

    Second …it has become the subject du jour for Republicans because they don't want to discuss things like insurrection  and treason.

    Third…Fuck them…keep talking about it.

    • Sunmusing says:

      agreed….republicans want to talk about about anything else, just not the insurrection…Lauren Qbert, I am now convinced, is a part of the insurrection, and is trying to cover up that fact…

      plus, republicans NEED stupid people to vote for them…

      • Duke Cox says:

        The air of criminality in the Republican party and its brand has been slowly, but inexorably, moving from covert to overt since the days of Richard Nixon. There is no longer any pretense about their loathing of, and plans against, democracy…and no doubt  about their intentions.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      "F***k them….keep talking about it."

      Right on !!! By all means, keep talking about it. Even if said talking allows the Repubs. to reclaim control of the US House and Senate in the 2022 midterms. But, hey, we got to keep talking…….

      • kwtree says:

        CHB, you’re always predicting dire results from progressives telling the truth….and you’re always wrong.

        Progressives talking helped win the 2020 electoral trifecta. And progressives are not going to cower silently away because of your scolding.
        Learn to live with the loyal opposition.

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          Need I remind you that all the talk about socialism and defund the police likely cost the Dems at least two House seats in south Florida? 

          As for the 2020 electoral trifecta, couple things you're overlooking. One is the narrow margin of Biden's victory in WI, AZ, GA. Second, we can all thank Trump's big mouth for letting the Dems take the two Senate seats in GA. 

          Dems were supposed to pick up seats in both House and Senate. Instead, they lost ground. You may think that progressives are "telling the truth." And perhaps so. But it's basic, stone cold, pragmatism that wins elections, not the noise coming from The Squad. 

          • kwtree says:

            So, fine, CHB. Which two house seats in south Florida are you referring to?

            I had heard the myth that Cuban Americans didn't vote for Biden because of "socialism and defund the police". So I looked into it. Of the four districts in Florida with the largest  Cuban-American populations, (Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, and Broward) all voted for Biden/Harris – by significant margins.

            Now, if you know that they had socialist police-defunding candidates on the congressional ballot in those counties, please specify. Other Florida counties went Republican – as they have done in almost every election since 1952.

            And which Democratic candidates on the Congressional ballot in Florida were actually talking about "socialism and defund the police"? It's a right wing made-up boogeyman to gin up their voter turnout.

            I keep seeing and hearing this meme from you: "Shut up about race, ( and what ever other controversial issues are currently annoying you) or you'll lose Democratic control!"

            But there are never any actual examples to back up these assertions.


            • RepealAndReplace says:

              "Which two house seats in south Florida are you referring to?"

              Since you asked, these two:

              FL-26 went from Mucarsel-Powell (D) to Giminez (R)

              FL-27 went from Shalala (D) to Salazar (R)

              But what the hell, Nicolas Maduro, Daniel Ortega, and AOC are making socialism great again.

              • kwtree says:

                So which of those Democratic candidates were talking “defund the police” or “socialism now”?

                Mucarsel-Powell looks like a mainstream liberal Democrat.

                Donna Shalala had of course been around forever, as a health secretary under Clinton. Also a mainstream liberal Democrat.

                She had a minor stock trading scandal, which of course GOP oppo research magnified.

                And weirdly….I don’t see Nicolas Maduro, Daniel Ortega, or AOC on the Florida ballot. Perhaps you can point them out.

                All kidding aside, of course GOP operatives tried to paint these mainstream Democrats as commies and anti-cop. And they won that propaganda war, apparently. But not because of anything Shalala or Mucarsel-Powell said or did.

                Salazar (Shalala’s opponent) issues were for Trump tax cuts, against immigration, and abortion – not police or socialism.

                Probably Democrats could have done better outreach to rebut those lies. But repeating that lying GOP propaganda, and using it to try to compel progressives to “Shut up about that stuff” a year later does not serve our democracy, and will not help Democrats get elected.

                When you repeat their propaganda to shut down our candidates, whom are you really trying to serve?



                • RepealAndReplace says:

                  Neither had to campaign on a platform of defunding the police or giving away free stuff.

                  The Screwball Squad made enough noise about those things to soil all the other Democratic candidates just as the wacky stuff that comes out of the mouths of  MTG, Q-Bert, Matt Gaetz, and Louie Gohmert makes the few remaining non-crazy Republicans look bad.

                  The stuff your friends are peddling may sell well in the South Bronx but it is not going to help dislodge Q-Bert next year. The only way she is leaving is if a far-right, non-crazy Republican manages to take her out in a primary.

                  By the way, what do you think of the bipartisan infrastructure plan that is coming together?


      • Duke Cox says:

        You going to argue with Stephen Hawking and Roger Waters?                                    

  9. spaceman2021 says:

    Funny how the GQP is making this the bogeyman du jour.  Didn't hear a peep from them when I studied this in law school in the early 90s.  Of course, one of theirs was in the WH then.  Well, a Republican anyway, though perhaps not their flavor of ultravanilla.

  10. MichaelBowman says:

    Isn't banning the teaching of systemic racism the perfect example of systemic racism? 

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