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Opinion — No one objects to the teaching of American history

As the debate over Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools becomes more widespread and more defined, supporters of the practice have begun to change their tactics. Rather than deny that CRT is being taught, they falsely accuse opponents of seeking to censor the teaching of history.

Supporters of Critical Race Theory have begun to argue that their opponents seek to censor the teaching of U.S. history. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our schools should teach all of American history, the good, the bad and the ugly. That includes the fact that slavery was an evil enterprise, Virginia’s shameful Jim Crow laws, the struggle for civil rights, redlining and more. Our children deserve to know the entire history of the U.S. at an age-appropriate level. But they also need to know that the U.S. has been and is still a beacon of freedom and hope for the world.

We should teach America’s sins, but also her redemption: by blood in the Civil War, by the struggle for civil rights and by the undeniable progress we have made toward our shared ideals. But what they don’t need is to be saddled with blame for the problems in our society, past or present. Nor do they deserve to be told that they are hobbled by these problems.

Today’s students didn’t implement slavery or segregation. Parents object to Critical Race Theory, critical pedagogy, diversity, equity and inclusion training and “antiracism” teaching because it does just that — it saddles students with the baggage of the past.

Teaching students that things such as punctuality, professionalism, individualism, politeness, personal responsibility and other core values that lead to success are “white culture” sets them up for failure. Such teaching also waters down the meaning of “white supremacy” to be all but meaningless, and it cheapens the suffering of those who have fought against that pernicious ideology.

Teaching students to see race in everything and as everything moves us away from the ideal of the United States — out of many, one. 

“Antiracist” teaching from Ibram Kendi and others like him hold that there is no middle ground: one is either an activist or a bigot. Anyone who simply wants to go about their lives, treat others as they wish to be treated, and see people as individuals is no longer a positive actor — they’re racists and part of the problem.

Del. Tommy Wright can be reached via email at DelTWright@house.virginia.gov or (804) 698-1061.