Checking, I remembered/confirmed I titled a post as C-R-T-I-T-N-B just a few months ago, and not much’s changed, other than, yeah, a few elections that would’ve been good-news-for-John-McCain regardless of the outcome.
Plus ça change…
Youngkin homed in on critical race theory, even though critical race theory, as Youngkin imagines it, isn’t being taught in his state’s schools. But that didn’t matter.
There are people who want to believe the fabrication because it justifies their fears about displacement, powerlessness and vulnerability.
In fact, the frenzy around critical race theory is just the latest in a long line of manufactured outrages meant to tap into this same fear, and the strategy has proved depressingly effective.
There was the fear of “race-mixing” among children — including the notion that Black boys might begin dating white girls following the desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. (By the way, this was a variation on the ancient and dusty fear peddled during Reconstruction that not only were Black men incapable of governing, but their rapacious nature also put white women at risk of rape and devilment.)
There was the fear of a collapse of the Southern way of life and society following the successes of the civil rights movement. That gave rise to the Republicans’ “Southern strategy.”
Richard Nixon used the fear of a lost generation to launch his disastrous war on drugs, which was not really a war on drugs at all but yet another way to ignite white racial anxiety.
Ronald Reagan employed the myth of the welfare queen to anger white voters.
As The New Republic put it, “the welfare queen stood in for the idea that Black people were too lazy to work, instead relying on public benefits to get by, paid for by the rest of us upstanding citizens.”
George H.W. Bush ginned up fears of white women being raped by Black former prisoners with his 1988 Willie Horton ad, hammering home a tough-on-crime message.
Even Democrats got in on the action during Bill Clinton’s presidency with their “crack baby” mythology, painting a dystopian portrait of an entire generation. Black children and young adults, they implied, were “superpredators,” unrepentant, incorrigible criminals who roamed the streets, willing “to knock my mother on the head with a lead pipe, shoot my sister, beat up my wife, take on my sons,” as then-Senator Joe Biden said.
Sarah Palin tried her best to other Barack Obama and make white people afraid of him, accusing the Illinois senator of “palling around with terrorists.” At the same time, birthers were questioning if Obama was born in the United States and wondering whether he was Christian or Muslim.
Then came Donald Trump, the chief birther, who ratcheted up this fear appeal to obscene levels, positioning Mexicans as rapists and Muslims as people who hate America. He disparaged Black countries, demonized Black athletes and found some “very fine people” among the Nazis in Charlottesville.
So it’s no wonder Youngkin’s critical race theory lie worked. The parasite of white racial anxiety needed a new host, a fresher one.
Sigh…though…I’m still, what?–grimly optimistic?
The wingers are clearly outnumbered. Otherwise, they wouldn’t obsess on voter suppression, scaremongering, gerrymandering, baseless claims of voter fraud (while ignoring their own attempts at the same), etc., while expecting — sadly, correctly — that the allegedly librul media can be counted on to report, with, if not seriousness, at least a “both sides” ridiculousness that accepts actual batshit insanity while dismissing even basic public policy as unrealistic…
And don’t get me started on Man of La Manchin or SineManchin on the Hill (take your pick) idiocy, in the true sense of the term, excessive Id, that preens while Trumpian fascism embeds itself/goes viral/metastasizes in the body politic.
But I also think The Rude Pundit gets it right here.
Don’t let them control the narrative.
Also, don’t count on the media for, well, anything.
And get aggressive.
When they pull bullshit culture-war nonsense like demanding an end to “teaching Critical Race Theory in schools,” maybe ask if they’re promoting a return to the separate-but-equal lie, and demand the media treat that as a serious question.
Because, one, it is, and two, it forces them to explain.
And, the media, being lazy, has never questioned the adage that “when you’re explaining, you’re losing.”
Make their laziness work for us.