OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Through the lens of Critical Race Theory, everything can be racist – and racist instincts are learned somewhere, at some point and understanding their origins is crucial for any proponent of the ideology.
For Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, those racist behaviors might very well be as early as from when they were in the cradle.
On Monday, Ocasio-Cortez railed against efforts to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools, and asked Republicans why they did not want students to be taught “anti-racism.”
Although “anti-racism,” made popular by Ibram X. Kendi, is different from the legal framework of Critical Race Theory, the two are often interchangeable.
Ocasio-Cortez, whose allies have long criticized opponents of Critical Race Theory as being ignorant of the concept when they conflate it with “anti-racism,” clearly conflates the two.
Speaking on CNN, the member of the so-called progressive “Squad” claimed that Critical Race Theory was not currently being taught in schools, and argued that educators must be “fluent in how to dismantle racism,” using rhetoric popularized by Kendi.
She accused Republicans of not wanting “kids to know how not to be racist,” implying that children are racist by default.
“Critical Race Theory is not taught in elementary school,” she told CNN host Don Lemon, who suggested that the bans on Critical Race Theory were being advanced by Republicans to “win back” suburban Whites by scaring them.
“It is barely taught in law schools, frankly, in the level that it should be taught,” said Ocasio-Cortez, as transcribed by Fox News.
“We know that Republicans have started to now use these laws curtailing critical race ‘curriculum,’ that’s not even being taught in the first place, as a proxy to saying we can’t teach anything about race in our schools beyond just some of the most minimal, minimal, minimal facts,” she added.
“We should say why don’t you want our schools to teach anti-racism? Why don’t Republicans want their kids to know the tradition of anti-racism in the United States?” continued Ocasio-Cortez, who appeared to be frustrated by the lack of support for CRT.
She continued, “Why are they attacking the core roots of history in this country that strays anything beyond what we already know? … Why don’t Republicans want us to learn how to not be racist? Why don’t Republicans want kids to know how to not be racist?”
Lemon told the audience that anyone opposed to teaching CRT to children was because they think children are too young to be taught about it, and because “it makes White kids feel bad.”
Adding to Lemon’s statement, Ocasio-Cortez suggested that White children learn to develop racist tendencies from infancy.
“Here’s something that we know neuro-cognitively … [Babies] already start to gravitate towards members of their own race when they’re disproportionately exposed to just one race in their life,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It doesn’t mean that babies are racist, but what it means is that we already start to gravitate towards communities and people that we already know we’re acclimated to.”
“Children do not feel guilt about racism when they learn early on what racism is. In fact, children learn to recognize it and can engage in corrective behavior early,” she added.
“Republicans are using these words like critical race theory, which again is a law school curriculum that is not even taught in schools, and their argument is well, some teachers may be exposed to it,” she continued.
“Oh, wow, so your child’s teacher is anti-racist and is actually fluent in how to dismantle racism and the dynamics of racism in a classroom. That is something that teachers should know how to do and Republicans are trying to ban this, are trying to ban us from knowing our own history,” she said.
Amid efforts to shut down the racially divisive concept from being taught in schools and forced into offices and the government, proponents of Critical Race Theory have taken a motte and bailey approach to teaching CRT by framing it as a framework to teaching the “history of racism in the United States.”
Opposition to CRT has been framed as an “opposition to anti-racism,” banning history lessons, and the denial of America’s “racist roots.”