Texas Senate Advances Anti-Critical Race Theory Bill Banning Lessons that KKK Was ‘Morally Wrong’
A year after the massive Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, conservatives are scrambling to unring the bell and reject critical examinations of US history, choosing instead to emphasize a narrative of the nation’s development that smooths over many of the more uncomfortable details.
The Texas Senate recently passed a bill against Critical Race Theory that rolls back, among other lessons, the ability of teachers to teach that what the white supremacist terrorist group the Ku Klux Klan did was “morally wrong.”
Senate Bill 3 seeks to undo parts of another law passed last month, which was itself a very restrictive bill reacting to the supposed teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools, which opponents say is anti-American.
Critical Race Theory is an academic movement based on the theory that racism may still be present in laws, rules, and institutional practices that don’t explicitly mention race or privilege one race over another. It became the target of conservative ire in the wake of the nationwide uprisings against anti-Black police violence and white supremacy that rocked the United States last summer, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Those protests, billed by many as part of a reckoning with white supremacy in US history and its enduring facets in the present, encouraged many to take a more critical look at that history, including the US military.
Editing An Already-Restrictive Bill
One section of the June law that would be struck if Senate Bill 3 became law requires students be taught about “historical documents related to the civic accomplishments of marginalized populations.”
The section to be cut includes “the Chicano movement,” a civil rights struggle by Mexicans and their descendants who lived in the parts of Mexico that were annexed by the US after the 1846-48 Mexican-American War; “women's suffrage and equal rights”; and “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.”
However, the bill doesn’t stop there: it also cuts studies of Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the works of Chicano labor leader Cesar Chavez, women’s suffragist Susan B. Anthony’s writings about the struggle to win women the right to vote, and documents about Native American history.
It further bans teachers from teaching that “the advent of slavery in the territory that is now the United States constituted the true founding of the United States; or with respect to their relationship to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to the authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality.”
The June law, passed as House Bill 3979, said that “a teacher may not be compelled to discuss a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs,” also adding that “a teacher who chooses to discuss a topic described by Subdivision (1) shall, to the best of the teacher’s ability, strive to explore the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.” This language is preserved in Senate Bill 3.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, said Friday the bill would “make certain that critical race philosophies including the debunked 1619 founding myth, are removed from our school curriculums statewide,” referring to the New York Times’ 1619 Project, a Black history project which derives its name from the date the first enslaved Africans arrived in the English colonies that were to become the United States.
“Parents want their students to learn how to think critically, not be indoctrinated by the ridiculous leftist narrative that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism,” he added.
However, on the other side, critics said the bill is an unnecessary intrusion into the teaching of certain topics about which teachers cannot simply teach both sides.
“How could a teacher possibly discuss slavery, the Holocaust, or the mass shootings at the Walmart in El Paso or at the Sutherland Springs church in my district without giving deference to any one perspective?,” asked State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat.
Terror Group Spreads Hate for 150 Years
The Ku Klux Klan, better known simply as the KKK or The Klan, is a white supremacist group formed by ex-Confederate soldiers and officials after the pro-slavery movement’s defeat in the US Civil War in 1865.
The group targeted for assassination rising Black figures as well as whites who ran schools, clinics or social services that helped the Black community after the end of slavery, and was crushed by the US federal government just years after forming.
However, it re-emerged in the 1910s with a wider focus than just violence against Black people, including anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ attitudes, anti-Catholic, and opposition to the teaching of Darwinian evolution in schools. It played a major role in the right-wing movement to preserve legal racial segregation in the US South in the 1940s-60s, using similar terrorist tactics as before, but was never repressed like it was in the 1870s.
The US government considers the KKK and its various iterations to be terrorist organizations and the US Department of Homeland Security has said white supremacist groups "remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland.”