A wonderful new foil

Philip Bump in The Washington Post last February:

Fox News’s incessant focus on “critical race theory” (CRT) over the past few years — a term derived from an academic discipline that has been inflated to cover a wide range of race-focused issues — has evolved along with the discourse to focus on “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI). The thrust of each, in the presentation of Fox News and its allies, is that the toxic left is seeking to divide the United States by race.

Critical Race Theory is not the same thing as Diversity Equity Inclusion. Yes the same brand of excitable zealot is often enamored of both of them, but all the same they don’t go together like sugar & spice or bread & butter.

I’m tired of seeing the epithet CRT/DEI thrown around, and I might even decide to banish it, the way a certain “website”-haver banished the word “blog” from his blog.

Republicans are as likely or more likely to say that Whites face discrimination in the United States than they are to say that gay or Black people do. The idea that Whites are a target of discrimination was a potent contributor to Donald Trump’s support in 2016.

That sentiment, stoked by Trump, Fox News and others, was an outgrowth of the surge in attention paid to immigration and race in 2014 and to increased awareness of the country’s changing demography, as illustrated above. The election of Barack Obama was an immediate presentation of that change: a young non-White guy taking power.

A young non-White guy who is vastly more intelligent and eloquent than the loudmouth from Queens. That’s the part that really burns Trump and the Foxers. How dare he?? How dare he be so good at thinking on his feet, be a former editor of the Harvard Law Review, be slim instead of bloated? Does not compute; must be blamed on crtdei and her evil plots.

Trump grudgingly left office, and a new administration — one sympathetic to racial justice arguments — took power. The right had a wonderful new foil. Discussions of “critical race theory” blossomed on the right generally and on Fox News specifically.

Again, the criticisms of CRT were not about CRT as such but of an intentionally constructed caricature of CRT aimed at tying together a wide (and often cherry-picked) array of race-tangential issues as useful targets. Like “woke,” “CRT” came to mean a vague sense of race- or diversity-related things and, therefore, bad things.

And so a new kind of tedium was born.

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