Two weeks ago, I brought you the inside scoop on Nicole Solas, the South Kingstown, Rhode Island law school grad and parent, backed by dark money school voucher lobbyists, who made her cable news debut on the TucKKKer Carlson show whining about Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in schools.
I have some important updates on this story that should be of interest.
Since this panic was first stirred up with the help of the most popular white nationalist bow tie broadcast on air, South Kingstown school board members have been subject to death threats and doxing by the usual collection of mutant swine that, until the ascendancy of Trumpism, were justifiably relegated to the gutter periphery of GOP politics. These are just two of the threatening emails that school board members have received recently from the self-described vanguard of the Judeo-Christian tradition:
Meanwhile, others have taken up Solas’s oddball crusade against a complicated college curriculum nobody actually thought of trying to teach in kindergarten classrooms. Robert J. Chiaradio Jr. of Westerly has ranted multiple times at his local school board, saying, “Critical race theory is so insulting to people of color who work hard every single day to provide for their family because it tells people of color that the only way they are going to succeed is because of an engineered outcome.” As in South Kingstown, the municipal record systems of Westerly and Barrington have both been flooded with excessive public records requests that intentionally seek to overwhelm the archival systems. Rhode Island is one of 21 states that have heard bills this years seeking to ban CRT in public schools.
Last weekend, as part of a nationwide day of action, I participated in a demonstration in Bristol, a municipality adjacent to Newport, with several other educators and activists from across the state. The event was held at the DeWolf Tavern, named for one of the largest slave trading families in New England prior to the 1776 war of independence.
The demonstration had a small crowd partially because it was a short notice event. But there also were several teachers who RSVP’d saying that they fear retribution and consequences for making their voices heard. During the event, there was a certain spooky ambiance, with several passersby giving us dirty looks or yelling obscenities at us. CRT is no longer a typical public debate, instead it has already reached the dangerous summit of lunacy seen in the early 1990s when healthcare providers offering abortion services were gunned down in the streets.
None of this comes as much surprise to me. One of my journalistic mentors, Dr. Lloyd Matsumoto of Rhode Island College, had a vigilante urinate in his yard some years ago because of a similar situation. A civically-engaged Japanese American, Dr. Matsumoto determined by studying Rhode Island police report statistics that there was an uptick in anti-Asian hate crime at the end of the summer. The Ocean State is the only one that continues to mark the anniversary of the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II on the second Monday in August. Based upon this logical causality, the professor of biology lobbied for the state legislature to change the day’s memorial and faced intensely vitriolic resistance from veterans groups, including this vandalism of his house.
Carlson and media outlets like his know very well that they are playing with fire. CRT has been turned into the latest paranoid boogeyman, a bizarre conspiracy theory rolling into a myriad cabal The New York Times’ 1619 Project, #BlackLivesMatter, gender pronouns, and a caricature of systemic racism claiming acknowledgment of this reality functions as a kind of mechanical determinism that would embarrass a crass Maoist.
How much connection this barmy notion has with the rather moderate proscriptions of people like the late CRT cofounder Derrick Bell, who described his views in this great radio interview, is ancillary to a much more serious issue.
Like religious fundamentalists, these people are on a crusader’s warpath with a significant number of firearms. Many of them are completely unaware that anti-CRT astro-turf groups, like Parents Defending Education, are connected with the school privatization lobby seeking to turn millions of dollars in public infrastructure over to the sector of private capital that favors the re-segregation of public education, as detailed in this important column by Jeff Bryant. And let’s not even try fording the self-contradicting Rubicon where these purported advocates of individual liberty, such as the Koch Network affiliate Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, run by washed up major league baseball player Mike Stenhouse, are seeking to legislate censorship and violate academic freedom.
Carlson and the rest of his Ku Klux Krew are well over the line past Freedom of Speech into the realm of inciting violence against elected officials, which is contrary to FCC regulations. This country has spent the past two decades doing vile things to Muslims for far less than this and Carlson cheered much of this carceral state violence on from the sidelines.
I wonder how he would feel about a taste of his own rancid medicine?