The battle over Critical Race Theory (CRT) is still raging after having been in full swing for several months. All indications suggest that the conflict is far from settled. But a closer look at the situation reveals that this is more than just another battlefield in the culture war. Indeed, this might be the beginnings of a much-needed paradigm shift on the right.
Over the past few months, we have seen story after story after story detailing how parents are fighting back against school districts and school boards seeking to teach elements of CRT in their classrooms. In several cases, they have won crucial victories in the battle over what should be taught to their children.
Even more noteworthy, however, is the fact that conservatives are winning the battle in the culture. The movement has managed to gain the upper hand when it comes to influencing public opinion. Recent polls demonstrate most Americans do not favor the teaching of CRT's tenets in K-12 classrooms.
Democratic politicians, left-leaning media activists, and members of teacher's unions have fought hard to push for CRT and woke theology in the classroom. They have attempted to shame and deceive Americans into getting on board.
So far, they have failed.
Still, there is something else happening in this situation that might be easy to miss if we are not looking carefully and it's understandable given the fact that this particular reality is a rarity in American politics. But it is compelling nonetheless.
What I'm referring to is the fact that, in a notable departure from how these things typically progress, conservatives have been on the offense while forcing the left to remain on defense. It is the left who are behaving as mindless reactionaries as parents and conservative media vigorously shine the spotlight on what the hard left is trying to inject into the material that is to be taught to their children.
Meanwhile, activist media outlets and members of the left-wing chattering class have been scrambling to defend CRT and woke theology in the classroom. They tried claiming that none of it is being taught in classrooms.
But the myriad of news stories about parents filing lawsuits and exposing the actual material being used in class put the lie to that assertion. Moreover, it's difficult to claim that no teachers are teaching Critical Race Theory when thousands of them signed a pledge declaring that they would continue using it in their classrooms despite laws prohibiting it.
Leftists have also tried to defend their actions by claiming this issue is just about teaching accurate history and asserting conservatives don't even know what CRT is. But again, it is difficult to believe this is simply about social studies and history when you have teachers and administrators categorizing children and educators by skin color. Labeling white children as “oppressors” and “privileged” while portraying minority children as “oppressed” has nothing to do with teaching history.
The truth is that no matter how much the hard left tries to obfuscate or outright lie about the matter, the American public isn't buying what they're selling. Now, we are seeing the left trying to get back on the offense – a place where they are far more comfortable.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, recently announced they are preparing to mount legal battles against states that passed anti-CRT laws. But at this point, it does not seem that the left will win this battle – assuming that conservatives keep up the pressure.
The lesson that conservatives should take from the battle over Critical Race Theory is that remaining on the defense has never been a winning strategy. Indeed, many rank-and-file conservatives have already known this for years, and it has elicited no small level of antipathy with their squishy establishment leaders. To be frank, the left has often succeeded by staying on the offense while forcing conservatives to constantly defend themselves.
What we are seeing in this particular battle could be a blueprint for a new approach to cultural matters. If the conservative movement learns to channel this type of energy into other matters outside of Critical Race Theory, it is possible that it could finally start gaining some ground in the overall culture war. If there is one thing that could be gleaned from this particular conflict, it is that the left doesn't do well when it is forced into defending its ideas and actions.
There are several different areas in which conservatives can and should go on the offensive. In addition, there are various strategies and tactics that it could use to gain the upper hand. But first, we must start with adopting a new mindset – a way of thinking that is being reflected in this current struggle. It must reflect the reality that it is not enough to simply react to what the left is doing; we must learn how to formulate effectual and proactive attacks against their machinations. Hopefully, the conservative movement doesn't miss this lesson.