The right's concerns about illiberalism in education aren't new

One of the top opinion pieces at the Washington Post today is this one by Greg Sargent titled, “Glenn Youngkin’s repulsive final push reveals a dark truth for Democrats.” The gist of the piece is that if the VA governor’s election is close (or if Youngkin wins) that will be because the left has no answer for the right-wing media. That’s the dark truth in the headline: Democrats just can’t compete in the media.


For months, Youngkin and his allies have pumped that raw right-wing sewage directly into the minds of the GOP base, behind the backs of moderate swing voters, via a right-wing media network that has no rival on the Democratic side.

Democrats will have to reckon with this. Whether Democrat Terry McAuliffe wins or loses — it will be very close either way — this race highlights this lopsided communications imbalance with unique clarity.

Look, there are some sites that spread garbage on the right just as there are sites that spread garbage on the left. But the idea that the left has no answer to Fox News and right wing media is absurd. The left has literally everything else. They have two 24/7 networks that reliable take their side. They have, to make an obvious point, Greg Sargent, Paul Waldman and Jennifer Rubin just at the Washington Post putting out multiple pieces per day. But the particular sewage Sargent has in mind are the complaints over Critical Race Theory:

The right-wing media is likely playing a major role in making this viable. Consider critical race theory, or CRT…

Let’s acknowledge that Youngkin isn’t using CRT as just a base motivator. He campaigns on it in swingy areas, and this will be partly a referendum on whether the issue can lure back the suburbs.

But to focus only on that misses the full story. Youngkin and his allies have transmitted some of their most visceral and hallucinogenic versions of the anti-CRT demagoguery straight to the base via right-wing media.

Among these are Youngkin’s ugly falsehood that CRT has comprehensively infested Virginia’s school system, and his despicable lie that McAuliffe got the Justice Department to silence Virginia parents.


On Twitter, Sargent quoted someone suggesting the concern over CRT was something brand new and that the fact we’re discussing it now shows the power of right-wing media to control people’s minds (or something):

This is pretty much the opposite of the truth. First of all, this isn’t the first time CRT has become an issue on the right. My former boss Joel Pollak brought it up back in 2012 on CNN. This clip got a lot of attention at the time. As you’ll see the eager pushback from Soledad O’Brien shows the media’s knee-jerk backlash on this topic isn’t new either.

The right has written and talked extensively about leftist illiberalism on college campuses since then. Remember the professor shouting that she needed some “muscle” to remove a reporter from a safe space on campus? This happened back in 2015, almost exactly six years ago:

And then the story which really made this a major issue of concern on the right was the takeover of the Evergreen State College campus by woke ideologues in May of 2017. This happened 4 1/2 years ago. Here I could choose any of several dozen videos but I’m going to pick this one because it really gives the woke students lots of room to talk.


The point of bringing up all of this history is that anyone who is currently claiming the right’s concern over CRT is some brand new invention being foisted upon them by Fox News clearly does not know what they are talking about. The right has been talking and writing about this specific strain of woke illiberalism for many years at this point. True, we didn’t always label it “CRT” in every case, but if you were actually paying attention, you’ll see it’s the same worldview. What the students were channeling in 2017 at Evergreen is the same stuff anti-racist trainers like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram Kendi are pushing now in bestselling books. This isn’t a new concern on the right, it’s a longstanding one.

Finally, it’s worth repeating that the left invariably (and intentionally) confuses right-wing pushback to whatever extremism they are promoting with a new fight in the culture war. In this case, as in most others, the pushback is not the start of the fight, the insurgency by leftist ideologues is where this really started. Conservatives are merely saying no to some of what the left is currently demanding.

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