The war on critical race theory: A quagmire

Or consider another of the verboten concepts: Schools are not permitted to teach that “this state [Tennessee] or the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist.” This is the sort of perfectly vague wording that provides both sides with endless ammunition for the culture war. Those on the left will argue that of course America is racist, just look at slavery and Jim Crow and the treatment of American Indians. Those on the right will argue that talking about this in the classroom is tantamount to brainwashing kids into hating their country and dividing people along racial lines.

Notice how reductionist, how simplistic both those arguments are, not admitting of the complexities involved.

Most people can agree that America has a complicated history with racism. Even conservatives like to do it when it’s politically convenient! I know this because I see conservatives criticizing Joe Biden for comparing himself to FDR because FDR imprisoned Japanese Americans in internment camps.

Which is why it is a mistake for conservatives to get especially agitated about the teaching of history as opposed to more pointedly ideological and vaguely racist arguments about, say, the nature of whiteness.