We really didn’t need any more proof that the Republican war on Critical Race Theory is really a war aimed at coddling white fragility and preserving white conservatives’ false image of what America is and was—but, boooooy, Republican legislators keep proving it anyway.
An Oklahoma legislator has proposed a bill that would essentially penalize schools for failing to lie about slavery in America. Specifically, the bill prohibits educators from teaching, among other truths, that white people were largely responsible for the institution of slavery in the U.S. and that Black people were largely the victims. Imagine trying to teach about the slave trade in America and having to start your lecture off by saying, “OK, class, listen: Some people held some other people captive for roughly 250 years, forced them into endless labor, forced their children to be born into servitude, separated families and erased entire heritages—but let’s not get into a whole racial who did what to whom kind of thing and just say there were very fine people on both sides.”
MORE: Black Parents Say Republicans Only Care About White Feelings When They Call Critical Race Theory ‘Divisive’
Anyway, according to NBC News, this month Republican state Rep. Jim Olsen filed House Bill 2988, which would prohibit teaching “that one race is the unique oppressor” or “another race is the unique victim in the institution of slavery.”
We should all be prepared for Olsen to defend this part of the bill by citing any anecdotal evidence he can find that there existed non-white slavers in America or melanin-less indentured servants he can pretend were the same as victims of chattel slavery. It’s like finding a rare stripeless tiger in the jungle and deciding wildlife experts can no longer teach that tigers ever had any particular fur patterns at all.
The bill would also ban teachers from teaching that “America has more culpability, in general than other nations for the institute of slavery,” that “the initiation and perpetuation of slavery” was the reason for America’s founding or that America “had slavery more extensively and for a later period of time than other nations.”
So Olsen essentially wants to run with a “but…but…but other countries did it too” approach to teaching about the transatlantic slave trade, because, for some reason, a lot of white Americans think the existence of slavery elsewhere justifies its existence in their so-called “land of the free.” They always want to claim American exceptionalism until it’s time to talk about oppression in the U.S.—then suddenly America is just like every other nation.
Except, it isn’t.
The fact is, the U.S. was one of the last Western nations to end the practice of slavery. Mexico, Britain, France, Denmark and others all beat America to that particular punch, so to ban teaching that America “had slavery more extensively and for a later period of time than other nations” is to ban teaching accurate history.
Of course, to let Olsen tell it, his bill isn’t about lying, it’s about “balance and in context.”
“It doesn’t prohibit anybody from teaching that America had slavery, that it was evil,” Olsen told KFOR while defending his ode to turning white tears into law. “It doesn’t prohibit teaching that we’re better for not having slavery.”
Sure, Klan…I mean, Jan—you don’t want to prohibit the teaching of slavery, you just want to erase a huge important chunk of Black American history by banning the teaching of who the victims and perpetrators were.
Suffice it to say, educators and Democratic legislators are not here for Olsen’s bid to make American history white people-friendly again.
“They are cranking this legislation out faster than the courts can keep up,” the University of Oklahoma Chapter of the American Association said in regards to Olsen’s bill to protect Caucasian feelings. “In the meantime, we have no intention of lying to our students or bowing to this assault on truth and academic freedom.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning educator and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones also had some words for the bill since it also specifically bans The 1619 Project from being taught.
“These anti-history memory laws literally are opposed to truth,” she posted to Twitter.
State Rep. Forrest Bennett (D-Oklahoma City) called the bill “embarrassing” and a “waste of time.”
“This doesn’t help people. It does nothing to further the conversation about race, and I think it’s an important one to have,” he told KFOR. “It also distracts from so many of the other issues that are facing Oklahoma today.”
According to NBC, if the bill, which would take effect on November 1, 2022, passes, public schools that refuse to lie so white people can feel better would have up to five percent of their monthly state funding withheld by the Department of Labor and colleges that receive state funding would have up to 10 percent withheld.
It’s almost as if CRT isn’t the culprit when it comes to student indoctrination in schools—fragile white people are.
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