Critical Race Theory: New First Amendment Claim

The Flag Staff Contributor
Critical Race Theory: New First Amendment Claim
Read Time: approx. 4:40

Critical Race Theory: The divisive concept has gained a lot of attention over the last few months, and it was notably used as a marquee issue in Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

Top Story: Critical Race Theory

What is critical race theory? Well, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Critical race theory (CRT), is an intellectual and social movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color.” In essence, it’s something that has evolved from an esoteric legal concept to a topic debated constantly on cable TV. Many on both sides of the aisle point to CRT as a major reason why Glenn Youngkin was able to stage a come-from-behind victory in Virginia, as the Republican candidate told statewide supporters that he would ban critical race theory on his first day in office as governor. In a new report released this week, free speech advocacy group PEN America argues that bans threaten First Amendment rights. “The group argues that bills banning critical race theory are veiled efforts to constrain discussion of US history,” Maureen Breslin reports for The Hill. “PEN America reported that 11 bills targeting the legal theory have been passed in nine states, while what it calls ‘educational gag orders’ are pending in many other states.” Here’s what both sides are saying about CRT:

On The Right

Right-leaning commentators don’t think CRT is a “phony” cultural issue. In fact, they believe it’s dividing the country—especially our children. Zooming out, they believe America’s history is at stake when it comes to this topic.

“America’s story is at stake in the fight over critical race theory” Editorial, Washington Examiner: “Just as Marxists pushed people to identify themselves primarily by class, critical race theorists want people to identify themselves primarily by race. … The fight over critical race theory is not a fight over whether America’s history of slavery or segregation should be taught in schools. Of course they should — the abolition of those deplorable institutions shows how far this nation has come. The fight over critical race theory is a fight over national identity. Is America a collection of distinct races, locked in a zero-sum fight for power and domination? Or is it a nation of immigrants striving to see past their differences and create communities where everyone can flourish together? … Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial election was the first battle in an effort to take that narrative back.”

“The Toll of Critical Race Theory on Our Children” Alveda King, Newsweek: “Both unity and victory have been undermined by critical race theory (CRT). This new approach to race actively divides our kids every day by leading them to believe that the color of their skin holds more importance than the content of their character. This is precisely the type of ideal that leaders in the civil rights movement fought against, yet here it is again … My uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wouldn’t recognize this regressive version of the civil rights movement. … He preached a vision of the world which focused on character, not skin color. … That’s why it’s important for everyone who cares about our children to learn more about their own local school boards. Find out who’s running. Learn what they believe. … You can decide that direction by learning, and then by voting.”

“Virginia’s ‘Phony’ Culture War” William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal Opinion: “Funny thing about culture wars: No one ever seems to think the left launches them. … look at critical race theory. How much easier it is to treat those who express doubts as bigots and racists than engage on the merits. So pronounced is this reluctance to debate honestly that Mr. McAuliffe and the press pretended that because CRT isn’t taught in its most formal academic version, it’s not in the schools. Who’s the real culture warrior here, when any mom or dad can search the state’s education website and find many mentions of critical race theory … Virginia reminds us that progressives often shout ‘Culture War!’ to avoid debate. They don’t wish to debate because they sense, rightly, that the American people wouldn’t be with them if they knew all the facts. The message Virginia voters sent last Tuesday is that they are tired of it.”

On The Left

Left-leaning commentators think conservatives who rail against discussions on race guided by CRT but push for free speech on other topics are hypocrites. Some view CRT as a historical means to galvanize a base for elections, and another explains how he thinks Democrats can win the debate over CRT.

“‘Critical Race Theory’ Has Been a Winner For Decades” Zak Cheney-Rice, NY Mag: “If the Virginia race was meant to serve as a blueprint for upcoming Republican campaigns, it’s the same blueprint that has animated local political activity, especially among white parents, for decades, and regardless of partisan persuasion. The lesson that links the desegregation clashes of the 1950s and 1960s to the bussing battles of the 1970s and 1980s, and informs the more recent disputes over affordable housing and gentrification in regions from New York City to St. Louis, is that few issues galvanize white activism more consistently than anything that could undermine a cloistered educational experience for their kids. … The sanctity of white children’s education is a national precept. You can label its latest invocation a war against ‘critical race theory,’ or a savvy bid to weld moderates and reactionaries into a winning electoral coalition, but it’s been political dynamite for 70 years.”

“Democrats can win the debate over critical race theory. Here’s how.” Max Boot, The Washington Post Opinion: “Democrats should admit that, even as racism remains a pervasive problem, some efforts to combat it backfire if they exacerbate racial divisions or stigmatize White students. … But while acknowledging some conservative concerns as legitimate, Democrats also need to call out the GOP’s cynical and destructive use of the CRT issue. Just as an earlier generation of liberals protested all the lives Joseph McCarthy was destroying in the name of anti-communism, liberals today need to focus on the collateral damage that Republicans inflict in the name of fighting CRT: They are trying to ban books and fire educators. In short, they are practicing the very ‘cancel culture’ they decry. … Conservatives argue that CRT, with its focus on group identity, is un-American. But what’s more un-American than attempting to ban books and fire teachers for their views? That’s what happens in China.”

“How Not to Talk About Race” Patricia J. Williams, The Nation: “It’s ironic: 10 years ago, absolutist ‘free speech’ bullies like Rush Limbaugh fought endlessly to say whatever they damn well pleased, loudly and on the public airwaves. Now some of the very same blowhards are bullying legislatively to prevent words or concepts from being spoken or taught. At either extreme, it’s the same dangerous paradox: the manipulation of who can speak with unfettered impunity and who cannot. … We cannot legislate feelings about race into silence. Outlawing shame, guilt, and discomfort is not only silly and impossible; it positions race the same way blasphemy laws position speaking ill of God or the king. … the new anti–critical race theory laws ban whole categories of speech not yet spoken.”

Flag This: Critical Race Theory

As pointed out by William Saletan of Slate, a left-leaning outlet, an October CBS News survey showed that “62 percent of likely Virginia voters said ‘school curriculums on race and history’ were a major factor in their choice for governor.” More specifically, Saletan points to a “YouGov/Yahoo! News survey taken last month [in which] 79 percent of voters with annual incomes above $100,000 said they had heard of CRT, versus just 43 percent of those making under $50,000. Among those higher earners, 39 percent said that children shouldn’t be exposed to CRT in school, while 29 percent said they should.” His point: “For Youngkin, CRT was a useful way to attract Virginians who had supported Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.” In separate polling coverage from Sydney Shea of the Washington Examiner, a right-leaning outlet, “Fifty-seven percent [of respondents] said parents should be concerned over those ideologies regarding how their children are taught in schools.” This was according to a Rasmussen survey, which also found that “Seventy-six percent are concerned public schools are teaching such ideologies.”

Flag Poll: Critical Race Theory

Do you think critical race theory bans threaten First Amendment rights? Comment below to share your thoughts.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
19 days ago

CRT is nothing but a way to try and divide us with a bunch of bull! America is not a racist country and has not been for some time. When ever you try to put down one race over another you are not being fair. The color of ones skin does not make a person, it’s the color of their heart and always has been. No school should ever teach that the color of skin makes you this or that. God created us equal and so it should be taught. equality.

19 days ago

No, I do not think a critical race theory ban is a threat to the First Amendment rights in schools. They can talk all about CRT outside of schools and debated in the public Square. But, we were talking about education, CRT is a theory just like evolution is a theory, we keep teaching it as though it’s fact. Where is the common sense within this country, I think it’s all stuck somewhere, and where I think it’s stuck is in the large cities that are rampant with liberal crazy ideas where all the poor people are kept off jobs and encouraged to be part of the welfare system. I think you’ve heard enough from me for today.

Bob T
19 days ago

Banning the teaching of CRT in schools is NOT an afront to 1st amendment rights. If the banning of prayer and religion from schools is not protected by the 1st amendment then why would such a divisive and, quite frankly, idiotic subject be protected?

19 days ago

No, I do not think a critical race theory ban is a threat to the First Amendment rights in schools. They can talk all about CRT outside of schools and debated in the public Square. But, we were talking about education, CRT is a theory just like evolution is a theory, we keep teaching it as though it’s fact. Where is the common sense within this country, I think it’s all stuck somewhere, and where I think it’s stuck is in the large cities that are rampant with liberal crazy ideas where all the poor people are kept off jobs and encouraged to be part of the welfare system. I think you’ve heard enough from me for today.

19 days ago

The education of our youth is already in a downward spiral. CRT does not need to be taught in school. It is divisive. We have enough of that already. Most of these kids can’t spell, do simple math or reason out solutions. They are failing at the basics. Let’s focus on that.

Thomas Bender
19 days ago

I believe that there is a place in education for examining social, political and philosophical theories. The question for me is when. My answer is college when there is a greater chance (or was) for free and open debate. Can’t have a meaning debate on CRT principles with Second graders.

19 days ago

I have never seen an actual lesson plan yet for CRT, however I believe that the concern expressed by parents who have indicates it’s problematic and racist based on their comments in the media. As a theory I think its possible to offer a course in college assuming the college allows free expression – to that point, I am not sure that’s possible… I attended college in the early 70’s in Philadelphia where we were taught by a bigot black woman who told us on the first day that only black people get A’s in her class and the highest a white man could get was a B and a white woman only a C – regardless of how you did. (This college also had every person taking a college of education course grading themselves – so it gives you some idea what a waste of money this place was.) As a white person living in a “bad” neighborhood, my friend, also white, and I had bottles thrown at us while we walked to school (only the better neighborhoods were bused). Racism can be found everyplace but that does not mean everyone is racist as CRT seems to imply. I had many great and good black friends growing up a well. Obama would not have won without the white vote. CRT seems to skew things on a model of pure hate, like the bigoted woman at my college. If one is taught by their parents to hate people who are white, they turn out hating white people without realizing it as I have experienced many times in my life. CRT is doing exactly that from what I can surmise. I’m not sure how it threatens First Amendment rights but is sure seems to border on hate speech. Again, regarding history.. it’s a side of interpretation of events and not necessarily fully accurate if it does not include all interpretations of events. And parents do have rights over what their children are exposed to – after all.. who knows if these “teachers” graded themselves too.

Paul Walker
19 days ago

CRT, 1st Amend right? But may violate 14th Amend as it teaches racist ideals, or in essence racism, and discrimination against white US citizens. # 2. Small School children are incapable of making intellectual arguments or having meaningful discussions in regards to CRT ( critical race Theory). In essence, CRT is a program created to brain wash children ( and adults ) to think an obey the programmers. [ e.g. the people in China and other communist countries. ) additionally, look at the language used by the people (in the article ) trying to make the argument that ÇŔȚ should or could be taught to kids. It’s nothing more a con, in essence use enough big words, that most people don’t even know the meaning of, to get them to believe and support your argument ( most people don’t like to have others think they don’t really understand the words their being told, some people who use such techniques, will even ask people who won’t go along with their plans or argument,

‘ are you stupid or something. ‘ in a attempt to humiliate them into supporting their cause.

  • Their wasn’t really anything bad wrong with our country until the left communist Democratic Party got control the Congress and the presidential office in our country. I’m 75 years old, I’ve seen many great changes in our country. Changes has made it a lot better for everybody. Now the racist Biden and the racist democratic party arev using the ÇŘȚ and ‘WOKE ‘ to get an instigate a racial War between ‘ Whites ‘ an. ‘ Blacks ‘ if this practice continuous, I have no doubt that this will end up in the shooting War. If something like that happens, America it’s self is the loser, there will be no winners, only a bunch of dead bodies, with hatred and resentment for each other. Such division in the United States, would be the destruction of our country. We are a single people, and should band together as one and put a end to what the racist communist Democratic Party and the racist president is doing to us and the United States. This is our country, not theirs. They are supposed to be working for us, and not working for themselved against us to change țhé United States into a communist country in which they would have Everlasting control over all of us.
  • Țhé left Democratic Party, and ťhê biased racist news media (now) wants to argue, that ĆŘŤ is protected under the. ( no one is saying it isn’t ] However, it doesn’t give them a right to force a racist Doctrine on our children in schools, any reasonable person could easily construe that ČŘȚ teaches children to be prejudice against white people. It teaches white children to think that they are inferior to other races. Such a Doctrine violates the 14th Amendment under the United States Constitution. Because it violates the equal protection clause. If someone what’s to read about CRT let them get a book, use the internet, etc. Therefore, their 1st Amend rights are protected and preserved. They just don’t have a right to turn our children into little brain washed robots through our school system. Not only, should this type of material be banded in ( all ) schools, and any teacher in caught teaching. CRT to children in schools should be suspended and their teacher’s license revoked. ( States can make laws making such acts criminal in nature an can imposed,, jail time, fines, suspend license and revoke licenses permanently. If they wish to argue the legality of such a law, and punishment they can. However that would take several years, and during that time, their license to teach is still suspended or revoked ( Joe Biden’s practices,, he knows or thinks what he’s doing is illegal, but the people who object or don’t like it can bring a legal action. But during that time, we’ll be vaccinating people ( by force, illegal or not ) ).