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How the “Moral Panic” of Critical Race Theory Morphed Into a Book-Banning Frenzy

The moral panic currently sweeping America about Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been covered ad nauseum by the press and commentators across the political spectrum.  That’s what typically happens with moral panics (more on that in a moment).

What nobody is talking about, though, is the why of this particular issue at this particular time.  As a result, we’re mistaking the tool for the goal.

Moral panics, when driven by politicians, are usually just tools. This CRT moral panic is a tool being used by a coalition of interests to achieve their own goals, none of which have anything to do with teaching or not-teaching the history of race in America.

Here’s how it works:

These are the goal-oriented “crisis actors” who’ve brought us the moral panic around Critical Race Theory that has now morphed into a book-banning frenzy.

It has deep roots.

As billionaire former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently wrote for Fox “News,” it appears she believes the best solution is just to kill off unionized public education because it can never be reformed:

“Because wokeness is the left’s religion, ‘banning’ critical race theory or the 1619 Project won’t fix the problem.  The liberal education establishment will simply rename, rebrand, or repackage these insidious ideas to get around so-called bans.”

These are the very simple and easily identified goals of the Republican movement to “ban Critical Race Theory.”

The tool they’re using is a new moral panic.

In this context, we can understand how a disparate group of billionaires, Republican politicians, televangelists, media outlets and white supremacist militias might find common cause around a new and exciting moral panic.

Thus, today’s Critical Race Theory hysteria.

Each group wins something substantial — particularly the billionaires and Republicans, as is usually the case — and the only losers are Black people and school kids.  And, of course, objective real history, which is just a throwaway casualty to the people funding and promoting the hysteria.

Because “history” and schoolkids don’t vote, and Republicans have figured out how to make it very, very hard for Black voters to overcome everything from being purged off voting rolls to having to stand in line for hours to being given “provisional ballots” that are never counted.

By December of 2024 — and maybe December of this year — the elections will be over and the whole freak-out around reinventing American history will have gone away, the same way nobody today is seriously working to push “bathroom bills” in state legislatures.

But don’t worry: it’ll be replaced by a brand new Republican moral panic that targets another convenient and vulnerable group.

Will it be Hispanics (race)?  Sikhs (religion)?  Lesbians (gender/sexuality)?

You can bet that today’s version of Newt Gingrich/Frank Luntz is focus-grouping it right now.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.