Conservative Trigger Warning: American History
Conservatives seek a safe space from Critical Race Theory.
MLK in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963, courtesy of History in HD on Unsplash.
There's a thread within conservative thinking that peddles the idea that teaching Critical Race Theory to students, which is not happening, would somehow make them hate America. It's an asinine position to hold, though one that's tactically taken because it provides the perfect alibi.
It allows conservatives the cover they need to fuel their ongoing culture war against freedom and liberty. They see themselves as the guardians of the Great American Experiment, contextualizing any slight against the country, by their interpretation, as a personal slight against themselves.
Kneel during the national anthem? Slight.
Sit during the Pledge of Allegiance? Slight.
Mention systemic racism? Slight.
Be anything other than straight, white, and Christian? Slight.
They've changed little over the years, swapping their gray coats for white hoods and eventually red hats while rehashing the same rhetoric spewed 160 years ago into tweets and podcasts. There has always been an entrenched and rabid minority of Americans who have forcefully fought against any significant change to the status quo that would have made the US more free, more equitable, more democratic, and, subsequently, a more perfect union.
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They're the same people who are today filling school board meetings across the country yelling at elected officials about some indescribable boogeyman of thought-harm none of them can adequately explain, parroting talking points printed out from the GOP's perpetual grift machine. Ask 10 to describe CRT, and you'll get 13 theories filled with contradictory claims, crackpot conspiracies, and caustic concoctions.
They're the same people who are angry and upset that there's a movement to remove statues of traitors and slavers from the public square. They grumble about preserving history and the importance of remembering (their whitewashed version of) it, yet fail to conjure up—purposefully ignore—countless other American patriots who are much more deserving of valorization.
There's an intentional hurdle conservatives hold when thinking about history, and it separates so-called true Americans from the impersonators. They're the guardians of the Great Experiment, believing that they've been tasked with protecting this country and its policies. However, since this country's founding, they've been "protecting" it from an extensive list of minorities long-denied this country's promises due to racism and sexism embedded in American law and culture.
The idea that American history is only right when it kowtows to a narrow, twisted version of it ignores the thousands of stories of struggle and perseverance. Hard-won battles for equality litter our past, yet conservatives will pass up telling them if it reveals how easily the white majority acquiesced time and time again to a racist minority who were eager to protect the status quo at all costs.
They'll do anything today to avoid facing our failings.
When conservatives squeal that they're afraid CRT will teach their children to hate America, what they're really saying is that they're afraid their kids will hate the whitewashed myth they've spent centuries carefully crafting. Learning a comprehensive version of American history would reveal how un-American and un-democratic conservatives and the GOP have become and how they continue to twist history to protect white supremacy.
Of course their kids would reject it, but that doesn't mean they would turn to hate America, too. Instead, they'd shift their patriotism and adoration to those who actually held the government accountable to our founding principles from those who would have rather protected our past policies.
Admitting that other Americans have done more to advance this country toward becoming a more perfect union than the Founding Fathers is yet another slight conservatives are ready to fight against. To admit the Founders were not perfect in some profound way destroys a myth conservatives have tried so hard to maintain.
American history is littered with a rainbow of rebels and rebellions that have won to obtain our country's most basic freedoms, but that's too colorful of a history for conservatives to handle.
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