The Biden administration is using federal money to get states to inject radical racial theories into children's history classes.
As Stanley Kurtz notes in National Review:
The woke revolution in the classroom is about to go federal...President Biden’s Department of Education has signaled its intent to impose the most radical forms of Critical Race Theory on America’s schools, very much including the 1619 Project and the so-called anti-racism of Ibram X. Kendi. (Kendi’s “anti-racism” — which advocates a massive and indefinite expansion of reverse discrimination — is more like neo-racism.)
Biden’s Department of Education has just released the text of a proposed new rule establishing priorities for grants in American History and Civics Education programs. That rule gives priority to grant “projects that incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives.” The rule goes on to cite and praise the New York Times’ “landmark” 1619 Project, as well as the work of Critical Race Theorist Kendi, as leading examples of the sort of ideas the Biden administration wants to spread.
Both Kendi and the 1619 Project are very controversial among scholars.
Ibram Kendi advocates widescale discrimination against whites and Asians to "remedy" blacks' underrepresentation. The “key concept” in Kendi's book How to Be an Antiracist is that to remedy the underrepresentation of certain minority groups, you need to engage in discrimination against other groups, such as whites: “the only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination." But the sweeping racial discrimination Kendi advocates violates Supreme Court decisions such as Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. (1989).
Kendi is also controversial for turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism. The "heroine" in one of Kendi's books "is a notorious antisemite, Angela Davis," notes law professor David Bernstein. "While Kendi disparages a host of American civil rights heroes, from Frederick Douglass to MLK as being too moderate, Davis is his odd choice as an antiracist exemplar," Bernstein says. "After a dubious acquittal from a charge of conspiracy to murder as part of a Black Panthers jailbreak, she spent the most productive years of her career as an activist for the American Communist Party." She disparaged jailed Jewish dissidents in the Soviet Union as "'Zionist fascists and opponents of socialism'" who should "be kept in prison.”
As Education Week notes, "historians have criticized important elements of the 1619 Project." It made false claims about America's origins, says Timothy Sandefur, author of a widely-acclaimed biography of Frederick Douglass. The 1619 Project claimed that "the moment [America] began" was in 1619, when 20 enslaved Africans were brought ashore in Virginia and sold. This incident, the 1619 Project said, “is the country’s very origin.” Although the nation’s “official birthdate” came in 1776, the 1619 Project claims that it was really “out of slavery—and the anti‐black racism it required” that “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional” grew.
"Despite the pretense of establishing the United States’ 'true' foundation, the 1619 Project is a politically motivated falsification of history. It presents and interprets American history entirely through the prism of race and racial conflict," notes the World Socialist web site, citing historians across the political spectrum.
In reality, the American colonies were first settled in 1607, before any slaves arrived on America's shores. More importantly, some of the principal colonies, such as Massachusetts (the birthplace of the American Revolution), did not depend upon slave labor, and abolished slavery soon after American became independent. Moreover, America's most prosperous and populated states were not slave states. The northern free states were much more populous and economically advanced than the southern slave states, which is why the south lost the Civil War.
In addition to sponsoring the flawed 1619 Project, The New York Times also touts Ibram Kendi’s misleading axiom that “When I see racial disparities, I see racism.”
Kendi’s claim ignores the fact that many racial disparities are not caused by racism. For example, Latinos live three years longer than whites, on average, even though doctors don’t discriminate in their favor. Asians make more money than whites, on average, even though Japanese and Chinese Americans suffered massive discrimination in America a century ago. And while blacks make less money than whites, on average, immigrants from some African countries like Ghana and Nigeria typically make more money than whites do.
Racial disparities exist everywhere in society and the world, often for reasons unrelated to racism, as the black economist Thomas Sowell chronicles in his book Discrimination and Disparities. To abolish racial disparities as Kendi seeks to do would require a totalitarian government, says black economist Glenn Loury.
But the Biden administration approvingly quotes Kendi's claim that "racist policies are the cause" of racial disparities.
Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department.