The engineered panic over critical race theory, explained
Spare a thought for critical race theory. It wasn’t always a conservative bogeyman.
Especially over the past several months, Republicans have distorted CRT — an academic frame that scholars such as Kimberlé Crenshaw have been using in graduate-level courses for decades to interrogate how the legal system entrenches racism — into a catchall to describe things they don’t like.
In this bastardized telling, CRT is whatever Republicans want it to be; it comes in many guises. “Black Lives Matter” is one name for CRT. “Social justice” is another. “Identity,” yet another. “Reparations.” “Ally-ship.” “Diversity.”
But to linger on what CRT is, or isn’t, is to miss the more pressing concern: Why have Republicans latched onto a decades-old academic term?