We have all seen and heard conservative activists railing against Critical Race Theory and moving to ban it from being taught in public schools. Don’t be drawn into arguing against the lies. They argue Critical Race Theory is being taught is school with the intent of making White children feel bad about being White. While that is patently false, it’s also not relevant. The idea that Critical Race Theory is taught in public schools is an intentional lie. Critical Race Theory is a legal academic theory, not a subject taught in primary or secondary school. If you are being taught Critical Race Theory, you are most likely in law school. So, why are we having this argument and what can we do to counter it?
The reason Critical Race Theory is under attack is that doing so is easy. It is easy to demonize an idea, the more complex the idea, the easier it is to do so. If someone doesn’t understand a concept and they are told it will hurt them, they will argue against it without really understanding what the issue is. The same was done to the Black Lives Matter movement. Lies were told by people in power and they were accepted as facts.
This is McCarthyism: Unfounded allegations levied against an opponent and their supporters for the purpose of retaining political power. The tactic is to place the opposing side in the position of having to defend against an unreasoned attack in a way that prevents them from responding with substance
Perhaps it’s time to respond to these attacks by calling out the attacker, rather than responding to the attack itself. Those orchestrating the attacks on CRT and BLM truly have no sense of decency. Their weakness is that many of those listening to them will leave when they realize the depth of their moral rot. Call out their hypocrisy and their lies. Call out their unAmerican attacks on democracy and free speech. But don’t defend CRT and BLM, because they’re not really the subjects of their attack.
There is a small but vocal group called the 5th Principle Project that is attempting to hide racism behind our 5th Principle; The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large. What they are doing is portraying themselves as victims rather than acknowledge that they are trying to protect the White Patriarchy.
Similarly, there is a group called The Gadflies who claim martyrdom as a result of attacks on their right of free speech. What they speak about is their opposition to social justice. They are against the anti-racism and anti-oppression work that our denomination is doing.
In both cases, they co-opt the language of inclusion to protect and maintain the hegemony of white cis males over the rest of society. Using words intended to equitably extend power to all UU, they intend to exclude those who they view as a threat to their power.
Understanding who they are and what they really want is the first step towards counter-acting an alt-right movement within Unitarian Universalism. More background information has been shared on our web platforms.
Twelve score and five years ago thirteen colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. In doing so they clearly stated ideals that were omitted from the Constitution just thirteen years later. We find ourselves still struggling to see that equality is ensured for all.
In 1852 Frederick Douglass asked “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” He followed by stating “The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me.” Here we are, in 2021, and this concern still remains paramount for marginalized communities.Two centuries of inequitable access to the benefits of society have resulted in a caste system that is based largely on race and gender. Heteronormative power systems still hold sway.
So how do we celebrate Independence Day, knowing that the greatness of our country is an unrealized promise for so many? In the view of David Oliver from USA Today, “it’s OK to not celebrate, but maybe there’s room to meet in… [the] middle.” We can celebrate the promise, if we commit to working for improvement. We can take the time to reflect on what we can do to ensure that all people are members of a single beloved community. We can celebrate family, community, and friends as a way to remain energized in our continuing fight for equity and compassion.