Editorials, Opinion

No CRT in W.Va., so why is GOP banning history?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s editorial continues from the editorial “Do lawmakers understand what they are banning?” published yesterday,
Sept. 23.

America is not as innocent and pure as the driven snow. It is not flawless, or perfect. Hindsight shows us that “right” and “legal” were not always synonymous in America’s past.

Slavery was legal. It forced people of color, particularly Black people, to start at the bottom of the social hierarchy — below animals, even — and to fight for centuries first for basic human rights and then for the same rights and application of law as their lighter-skinned counterparts.

Segregation was legal. Designed and implemented by white people, it kept people of color separate from white people and relegated to private or often inferior public spaces.

Native American displacement was legal. The U.S. government facilitated, encouraged and participated in the removal of Native Americans from their land — often violently — so white people could live on and profit from it, while indigenous people were corralled onto reservations. Later, Native American children were plucked from their homes and sent to residential or assimilation schools, where their culture and language were literally beaten out of them.

Japanese internment camps were legal. During World War II, Japanese Americans were rounded up and forced into internment camps for the duration of the war, causing many to lose their homes and businesses and have to start from scratch.

Redlining was legal. In fact, it was a government-sponsored practice to keep people of color out of white neighborhoods even after integration, usually forcing people of color into poorer districts or denying them homeownership altogether — and therefore the long-term advantages of generational wealth.

All of the above are documented facts — fundamental pieces of America’s past — and they all have far-reaching consequences that impact our modern world.

They are ugly truths, but they are America’s truth.

CRT — actual critical race theory — is not being taught in West Virginia’s schools. There’s not even a dedicated course on CRT in any of West Virginia’s colleges or universities, let alone in our K-12 schools. There’s nothing to ban, so why are Republicans across the nation pushing so hard to get this restrictive legislation through?

Because what Republicans want isn’t to ban critical race theory. What Republicans want is for our children to learn a sanitized version of history that glorifies only the best of America while glossing over or outright ignoring its sins. What Republicans want is for our children to memorize an approved national story without ever learning to think about how our country’s past impacts our present — and our future.