Fascists Across the Country Launch White Supremacist Offensive in Education

| revcom.us


Editors’ Note: As the following article reports, there is a wave of laws being pushed by white-supremacist fascists trying to shut down teaching the truth about the foundational role of slavery in the history of this country and the continuing systemic and institutionalized racism today. This is happening at a time when people across the country have been marking the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, when mobs of racist whites slaughtered hundreds of Black people and burned down a whole Black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is happening a year after the Beautiful Rising of millions against police murder and institutionalized racism, that toppled Confederate statues and questioned basic truths about the history of this country. In this context, it is worth noting what Bob Avakian references in his New Year’s Statement, “A New Year, The Urgent Need For A Radically New World—For The Emancipation Of All Humanity,” quoting Black journalist Leonard Pitts, Jr., that the U.S. is “not one country anymore, but two sharing the same borders.”

Laws aimed at indoctrinating youth with an unquestioningly white supremacist, national chauvinist presentation of this country’s history are being enacted across the country. By the end of May, governors in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Idaho had signed laws banning critical race theory (CRT)1 in public schools. And legislatures in Arizona, South Dakota, Iowa, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Florida, West Virginia, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire are currently trying to pass similar laws.

The fascists pushing these laws claim to oppose teaching they deem “divisive” because it promotes “racist and sexist” concepts—meaning, in the twisted language of these thought-police, criticisms of white supremacy and male supremacy. In reality, all these laws are, in the words Paula Lewis, head of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board, used to describe the Oklahoma law, “outright racist and oppressive piece[s] of legislation.”

A Long-Overdue Awakening

An article in the journal Education Week pointed out that the existing and proposed laws draw on language fascist-in-chief Donald Trump used when, as president, he issued an order banning “diversity training” for federal workers.2 The order read in part, “Today ... many people are pushing a ... vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual. This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country...” (The order was rescinded by Joe Biden.)

The fascist education laws in different states are intended to whitewash U.S. history at a time when unprecedented numbers of people, especially youth, have begun a long-overdue examination of and reckoning with the actual history of the country—especially after the beautiful rising of people that swept across the country in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd. People are awakening to what, for many, is a shocking realization that the country has been—and remains—steeped in vicious oppression of Black, Latina/o, Native American, and Asian people since before its founding. They are learning, many for the first time, of the forces and developments that in fact shaped U.S. history, and are embedded in its culture, its laws, its institutions, honored with its statues and memorials—such as slavery... the Trail of Tears and the genocide of numerous Native peoples... the Chinese Exclusion Act... the massive slaughter of Mexican people along the Texas-Mexico border.3

Trump and other fascists turn reality on its head by claiming white people are the victims of racism today. They push the notion that white students shouldn’t be made to “feel uncomfortable and guilty about their race,” as an article in USA Today put it. These education laws are part of their efforts to instill unquestioning acceptance of America’s supposed “greatness” and prohibit what fascist U.S. senator and rabid Trump supporter Tom Cotton called “anti-American and racist [meaning, anti-white supremacy] theories.”

An Example: Oklahoma

The Oklahoma law restricts public school teachers and employees from using lessons that make an individual “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.” Paula Lewis of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board wrote in a series of tweets that she is “appalled at the flagrant attempt to erase” factual history and that “Our history as a country and as a state, if told accurately, is uncomfortable, and should be heartbreaking for Americans that look like me, white.”

This law is already having a repressive impact. TV station KOCO reported that Melissa Smith was informed that a class she taught for six years at Oklahoma City Community College has been canceled. The syllabus of Smith’s class asks students to “learn about racial inequality in the United States—from health to criminal justice to housing” and “recognize the extent of privilege, prejudice, and discrimination in our society.” An administrator for the college said Smith’s class is being “paused,” not necessarily canceled, and attributed its removal directly to the new state law: “[A]fter learning more about [the law] and how it essentially revokes any ability to teach critical race theory, including discussions of white privilege, from required courses in Oklahoma ... we recognized that [it] would require substantial changes to the curriculum for this class particularly.”4

Deliberate Vagueness, Calculated Aggression

Not all educational policy is determined on the level of state law. Often, state and local education boards are the focus of contention over public school education policy. And today, the battle over education is shaping up throughout the country. In Florida, when a state board of education was discussing a curriculum for civics classes, fascist governor Ron DeSantis bellowed that a civics curriculum in the state’s schools “will expressly exclude unsanctioned narratives like critical race theory and other unsubstantiated theories.” In late May he threatened, “We’ll be taking action, don’t you worry.... If we have to play whack a mole all over the state stopping this critical race theory, we will do it.”

A woman in New Hampshire who opposes attempts to enact a law similar to Oklahoma’s there, said that the vagueness of these laws “is really the point. With this really broad brushstroke, we anticipate that [the laws] will be used more to censor conversations about race and equity.”5 Vagueness is not fully “the” point, but it is “a” point. This vagueness could, and is likely intended to, enable fascists to whip up mobs of parents and “concerned citizens and taxpayers” who claim children are being made to feel ashamed for being white, are angered about how “our tax money” is funding liberal “indoctrination” as Idaho lawmakers claimed, or educated in what one Texas fascist denounced as “souped-up Marxism.” Another element of all the laws proposed is that they limit and often discourage discussion of current events and mandate, in the words of the Texas law, “diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”

Needed: A Scientific Methodology to Understand History and Current Events

These fascist measures around school education are intended to suppress knowledge of facts—but even more to suppress critical thinking and evaluation of reality, past and present. Developing a scientific understanding of the history of this country, and developing a scientific methodology to analyze current events, is a crucial focus of struggle throughout society.

As Revolution wrote in September 2019:

It really does matter, from the perspective and goals of making revolution and emancipating humanity, that people follow through on this reckoning and confrontation, learning more about the history of this country and its founding and foundations. It matters, even more, that people follow through on their convictions and go beyond their comfort zone, to logical and scientific conclusions such as what BA says in the film Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution:

White supremacy and capitalism—they have been completely interwoven and tightly “stitched together” through the whole development of this country, down to today; to attempt to really put an end to white supremacy while maintaining the system of capitalism would tear the entire fabric of the country apart. White supremacy and capitalism—it is not possible to overcome and finally abolish the one without overthrowing and finally abolishing the other.


1. An analysis of critical race theory is beyond the scope of this article. But a point made in an earlier Revolution article on the battle over how to approach the actual history of slavery and continuing reality of white supremacy in this country, made this important point of departure in understanding the different contending positions: “First, there is the MAGA-style open re-assertion and imposition of white supremacy with potentially genocidal implications. Second, there are efforts like that of the [New York] Times and many progressive public intellectuals to open up and make available the actual history of this country, in an effort to ‘save America’... Third, there is the real urgent necessity of getting organized now for an ACTUAL revolution to overthrow and defeat the system of American capitalism-imperialism, and the white supremacy woven into its fabric....” [back]

2. Four States Have Placed Legal Limits on How Teachers Can Discuss Race. More May Follow, Sarah Schwartz, Education Week, May 17, 2021. [back]

3. To get more into these and other crimes of this country and its rulers, see the American Crime series at revcom.us. [back]

4. Critical race theory ban leads Oklahoma college to cancel class that taught ‘white privilege’, Washington Post, May 29, 2021. [back]

5. The GOP’s ‘Critical Race Theory’ Obsession, The Atlantic, May 7, 2021. [back]

The fascist education law in Oklahoma was passed at a time when people across the country were marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, when armed mobs of racist whites slaughtered hundreds of Black people and burned down a thriving Black neighborhood.
Above: commemoration of Tulsa Massacre as survivors of the massacre ride in carriages. (Photo: AP) Below: some of the Blacks who survived were imprisoned.

The beautiful rising of people that swept across the country, like here in Kenosha, in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd revealed that people are awakening to a shocking realization that the country has been—and remains—steeped in vicious oppression of Black, Latina/o, Native American, and Asian people since before its founding. Photo: RefuseFascism

Bob Avakian wrote that one of three things that has “to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this.” (See “3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.”)

In that light, and in that spirit, “American Crime” is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment focuses on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

Read the entire American Crime series



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