Politico sounds the resistance alarm: Could school board fights over CRT turn Virginia red? (Update)

Consider me skeptical. Not of the question raised in the headline so much as of Politico’s motive for publishing this story. The word “seize” doesn’t appear in the story but that’s really the gist of what it’s about. The subhead reads, “Debate around critical race theory pushed wealthy Loudoun County to the frontlines of the GOP’s culture wars. Republicans are hoping to turn that discord into political capital.” Without using the word, this is a ‘Republicans seize’ story.

The purpose of all such stories is to change the subject from whatever it is that Democrats are doing badly to the nefarious outsiders who are trying to capitalize on Democrats doing something badly. In this case, that means rehearsing the usual diversions about how CRT is not really being taught in schools.

The politics of this one school district have big implications for political control of Virginia. And Republicans hope to leverage this issue to wrest away Democrats’ control of all three branches of state government. Last week, GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin even held a campaign rally in front of the Loudoun County school board building to decry critical race theory—even as the school board repeatedly denies teaching it. (Nor is it taught in school districts around the county where conservatives are attempting to ban it.)

This argument could not be more tiresome. People who had never heard of Critical Race Theory until last month are now eagerly informing everyone that it’s not what Republicans say it is. Fine. Critical Race Theory is a view taught in law schools and some college classes not in elementary schools. But it’s still a useful handle for the anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-cisheteropatriarchy stuff that really is being brought wholesale into schools. So please stop trying to score debating points over the label and deal with the substance.

Politico doesn’t really bother with that. Instead, it published a story about Republicans seizing which insinuates that partisanship is motivating all of their efforts. Frankly, the Republicans quoted in this story are saying pretty much the same thing that Democratic candidate Eric Adams (i.e. the next mayor of New York City) has been saying from the other side of the aisle:

“I think it’s going to have potential for a significant influence on the election,” said Geary Higgins, chair of the 10th District of the Virginia Republican Committee, which includes Loudoun County. “If people continue to deny that this is happening, or try to say that teaching racism in our public schools is somehow a good thing, I don’t think Virginians are gonna vote for that.”

This isn’t a secret Republican plot. Elected Democrats have been saying similar things since the disappointing results of the 2020 election. Even the official autopsy report on the election carried out by the DNC concluded that attacks on defund the police and socialism worked. Democrats would truly have to be idiots to think attacks on CRT won’t happen and won’t be effective in 2022.

And that leaves Democrats with a tough choice to make. Rein in the excesses of the far left school boards and teachers unions or pay a price. The Politico story really amounts to a kind of special pleading that Democrats shouldn’t have to pay a price because Republicans are partisans who hope to win elections.

Many of the parents helming anti-critical race theory groups in the commonwealth are also conservative operatives and right-leaning policy analysts. Prior, the founder of Fight for Schools, is a former senior official in the Justice Department under Donald Trump.

It’s a Trumpian plot! There’s also this description of a recent school board meeting at which two people were arrested:

Parents stood on tables, yelling and booing at school board members, said Atoosa Reaser, a Loudoun County school board member who moved to adjourn the meeting early. A livestream of the meeting shows one man with his middle fingers up to the dais as others held signs, reading “We the Parents Stand Up!” in the air. Police arrived to disperse the crowd, arresting two, including Tigges…

Since that meeting, Reaser said she has felt uneasy as the local movement against critical race theory has grown. She said she is fearful that the school board recall effort could devolve into something more dangerous. As an example, she pointed to one Facebook comment from a former school board member calling on conservative parents to “show [current school board members] what an insurrection actually is.”

“How much more room is there for escalation?,” said Reaser. “People died on January 6.”

Reaser is one of the school board member parents are trying to recall. Suggesting that opposition to the board’s curriculum plans is tantamount to violent insurrection is pretty obnoxious. Parents are allowed to disagree with the school board and to attempt to recall them. The survival of the Republic is not at stake if she loses her job.

Overall the tone of this piece is really about undermining the efforts of anti-CRT groups by linking them to Trump and comparing them to rioters. This is just more resistance journalism. There’s no need to actually argue about what is being taught in schools if you can simply render a caricature of your opponents as the real extremists trying to win elections.

But it’s not going to work. Democrats and the media got this wrong with the Tea Party and they’re doing the same thing all over again. The CRT backlash isn’t a top-down effort by Trump loyalists, it’s actual pushback from parents around the country who are not going to stand for some of the extremist ideas being taught under the guise of equity and anti-racism. Eric Adams is right that the far left is going to cost Democrats on crime and it’s true on this issue as well. Either Democrats can dial back their own extremism a bit or they are going to pay the price next November.

Update: I’m not alone in finding this story to be a dumpster fire of bias.