What’s wrong with ‘inclusion’?

I didn’t do a column on Critical Race Theory when Republican legislators passed a bill implying it was a real danger in our schools or when Republican Party Chair Tom Luna saw fit to repeat the attack in a guest editorial. 

I told myself that, as long as rank-and-file Republicans ignore CRT, I can also.

Then came the abrupt adjournment of the Kuna School Board meeting last Tuesday. One attendee had disrupted the meeting time after time to object to use of the word ‘inclusion’.

A recent draft of Idaho School Board policy on Diversity, Educational Equity, and Inclusion, defines ‘inclusion’ as “the fostering of an environment in which the inherent worth and dignity of all individuals are recognized and valued, and where individuals have equitable opportunities to be included, engaged, and accepted with a sense of belonging.”

Why would anyone decide this was so unAmerican that he–alone and heroic–would lead the  battle against its use? 

It started with a think tank called Battleground. Director Christopher Rufo’s argument that excellence, not diversity, should be our goal, is basically a plea for a privileged upper class.  Rufo invented a target by claiming Critical Race Theory, actually a framework for studies of the racism built into institutions, espoused the ‘white guilt’ teachings of black activists of a half century ago 

Rufo added a twist by declaring that CRT is Marxism with ‘race war’ now substituted for class war’ and quoted a noted supporter of diversity as saying,  “to truly be anti-racist, you also have to truly be anti-capitalist.”  In short, anti-racism would mean “the end not only of private property, but also individual rights, equality under the law, federalism, and freedom of speech.” 

And he slid in the assertion that “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching” are simply euphemisms used by CRT advocates. 

The Repubican leadership, hard pressed to win back Congress in 2022, then set out to spread fear of  CRT.  Senators and governors embraced the chance to excite the base, undermine public school support, and please big-money donors.  .

Then legislators in 22 states introduced bills on an issue they hadn’t even heard of weeks before.  Nine states, including Idaho, enacted laws or passed resolutions against CRT. And party officials, like Idaho Republican Chair Tom Luna, started spreading the word that CRT pits people against each other, blames children for the acts of their ancestors, and teaches that the world would be a better place if America had never existed. 

Luna also attacked the National Education Association for “recently” passing a resolution denouncing ‘capitalism’ and supporting ‘CRT’. Strangely, neither term is mentioned in any NEA resolution  Ones from 2017 and 2018 do advocate for eradicating institutional racism and for encouraging honest and open conversation about threats to equity, fairness, and justice. Only four resolutions were adopted in 2021; the one dealing with human rights is about the use of the pronouns individuals prefer. 

What I can’t understand is why members of the Republican rank-and-file would accept that their local institutions are part of a conspiracy to destroy the freedoms that make such institutions possible. 

 Are they seeking a target for fears that haunt them?  Or do they desire to be part of a crusade?  Or is it simply the chance to hate? 

Somehow Republicans accept that thousands are conspiring against them–that global warming and Covid are lies and the election of 2020 was rigged.

Whatever, the fear of CRT is a tool being used by the heads of the Republican Party, not a fringe group.  

And it’s based on lies.   

Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

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