Kmele Foster Is Right: Banning Critical Race Theory Isn’t Going To Stop It

Kmele Foster Is Right: Banning Critical Race Theory Isn’t Going To Stop It

Classical liberals like Kmele Foster have repeatedly insisted that declining to publicly fund certain speech is not censorship. But he's right that critical race theory bans aren't anywhere near enough.
Joy Pullmann
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On the latest “The Fifth Column” episode, cohost Kmele Foster reiterates his argument, previously expressed in a coauthored New York Times op-ed, that banning critical race theory in schools is bad. While discussing to what extent public opposition to this form of racism fueled Republican success in last week’s elections, Foster again claimed “there is zero evidence that this particular strategy [of banning CRT in schools] is working.”

“In practice, these bills create a great deal of uncertainty about how curriculum should be constructed and what constitutes a kid being made to feel uncomfortable or being told they should feel shame on account of their race,” he claimed.

He cited a school board meeting in which teachers questioned whether they should now teach “the other side” of the Holocaust. “That is a direct result of these idiotic bans” of critical race theory, Foster claimed. Later he also noted that Texas lawmakers are asking state institutions to report whether they are using public resources to buy and promote anti-American and racist books, claiming that’s a prelude to book bans.

For one thing, even if Texas lawmakers do take action after they gather this information, they will not be “banning books.” They may refuse to expend public resources on certain books, but that is not banning them. Actual book bans, actual censorship, would mean what happens with successful full-bore cancel operations from the left: The person with the book is unable to publicly publish or distribute it, even on his own time and dime.

It’s a bit like what Twitter and Facebook do to presidents and members of Congress, which libertarians and classical liberals (like Foster claims to be) are always telling us is totally fine because Facebook and Twitter are private companies and they should not be forced to publish and distribute speech they don’t agree with.

Well, fine, then, let’s spread this libertarian goose sauce around equally. If Twitter shouldn’t be forced to platform Donald Trump and Republican Rep. Jim Banks, the good taxpayers of Texas also shouldn’t be forced to pay for, distribute, and platform speech they don’t agree with through the government institutions they are supposed to democratically control.

That’s not a book or a speech ban, at least according to the reasoning of libertarians like Foster. If any government declines to fund their activities, such speakers and authors would still be free to speak and publish as they wish. They would not be free, however, to force other people to subsidize their speech. (This also gets into how government and monopolies today control public squares and what should be private life by subsidizing and legally preferencing only one politically favored side, a very big aspect of all this that must be saved for additional discussions.)

To Foster’s point about college-educated teachers’ alleged difficulty in understanding pretty obvious laws, it seems likely to me that any nincompoops asking about “teaching both sides of the Holocaust” are trolling. It’s clear what they are legally supposed to teach and not, they just don’t want to comply with the law, so they’re getting pedantic, like a middle schooler or a Jesuit. [Update: It turns out Foster’s characterization of this story was based on fake news, and I was right: this was a biased curriculum director falsely characterizing the Texas law to local teachers.]

It’s only “hard” for teachers to figure out what they are now “allowed to teach” if they don’t want to understand the message. Just don’t be a racist, and you’re good. The problem is, some teachers seem to believe they deserve public sinecures to preach the gospel of anti-white hatred. That’s why they just can’t accept the law’s obvious intent and meaning and move on.

This blends into a point Foster also made in the podcast that I think is dead-on accurate.

“Maybe, as opposed to taking a side in an idiotic culture war, if you try to circumvent the whole thing and focus on things that actually matter, like developing pedagogy that’s better, like establishing curriculum that works in a more serious way,” he said. “…I’m sorry, if you think that the culture war is going to be over because someone passed a ban in Virginia, go look at Texas. They’re still having problems.”

Setting aside the absurd reductionism — I know of nobody who thinks CRT, yet alone all the culture wars, will be instantly solved by a state ban — Foster is right that CRT bans are not enough. One proof is in those very teachers who are resisting the will of the voters who fund their salaries and supply children to their classrooms.

Critical race theory’s hold on the U.S. education and corporate systems is the poisonous fruit of a poisoned tree. To root it out will require a lot more than state and local bans. It requires of the right exactly what the far-left is doing: Systemic thinking.

That means not taking an isolated, whack-a-mole approach that lawmakers might prefer so they can just pass some patch on the problem and send voters home with a pat on the head. It means making a comprehensive, holistic assessment of how so much of American local, regional, state, and even national leaders participate in and even condone open, government-supported racism.

Why are there any teachers, let alone entire unions, teachers’ colleges, entire teacher training systems, curriculum factories, testing companies, the whole education cabal supporting open racism and anti-American hatred? How is it that such important drivers of American society not only condone but energize hatred against their own predecessors and way of life? How is it not obvious to so many so-called leaders of American society that this ideology they put hundreds of millions of dollars behind is contemptible and incompatible with truth, justice, and the American way?

The very existence and widespread use of CRT is an indictment on the entire system. As such, it requires not merely a one-off response like a ban. It demands a comprehensive evaluation of the entire education system and a total reorientation of its priorities and methods. The neo-racists are right about one thing: Racism in America appears to be pretty systemic. What they’re wrong about is what kind of racism, as well as the right way to address it.

Earlier this year, commentator Richard Hanania made the point, on which I built several related arguments, that critical race ideology has been furthered by U.S. laws and institutions since the 1960s. It hasn’t been imposed on America from space aliens, and it hasn’t grown entirely organically, it’s been fostered by years of legal and policy accretions.

So that’s another area in which Foster is wrong. Attempts to ban critical race theory from classrooms, Foster also said on the podcast, “Don’t make any differentiation between what you’re doing in kindergarten and twelfth grade, that is f-cking censorship and that is not how you go about changing the culture. The book banners never win, -sshole, full stop.”

On the contrary: Taking control of public and private speech, and tilting the many interlocking education monopolies in favor of leftist ideology, has absolutely been a winning strategy for hard-left ideologues. If speech banning didn’t work so very, very well, they’d let Trump back on Twitter and conservatives on CNN.

You 100 percent do change culture by changing laws. That’s exactly how we got critical race theory everywhere, as Hanania pointed out this summer: “Wokeness is law,” he pointed out, going on to detail multiple ways in which government policies force schools and employers into racism in the guise of combatting racism.

If it is law, it can be changed. And it should be, because racism is evil. So, yes, ban teachers from preaching racism on the taxpayers’ dime. But don’t stop there, because government-sponsored racism doesn’t stop there, either. Not even close.

Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her brand-new e-book is "The Advent Prepbook." Check out her recommended classic Christmas picture books, "The Read-Aloud Advent Calendar," and her bestselling ebook, "Classic Books for Young Children." Sign up here to get early access to her next full-length book, "How To Control The Internet So It Doesn’t Control You." A Hillsdale College honors graduate, @JoyPullmann is also the author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," from Encounter Books.
Photo U.S. Army photo by Bob McElroy

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