Trump tells parents to monitor schools to prevent students being ‘brainwashed’ with history of racism in new op-ed

Addressing legacy of slavery and systemic racism is ‘program for national suicide’ for schoolchildren, he says

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 18 June 2021 15:52
Marjorie Taylor Greene and House Republicans speak out against critical race theory
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In a lengthy column published the day before Juneteenth, after President Joe Biden signed into law a measure to make the day commemorating the end of slavery a federal holiday, his predecessor Donald Trump raged against the teaching of racism in US schools and blamed the current president for “extreme ideas” and “divisive messages” that are “brainwashing” American children.

The former president – weaponising opposition to “critical race theory” that has dominated right-wing discourse following Mr Biden’s presidency – accused the administration of “indoctrinating America’s schoolchildren with some of the most toxic and anti-American theories ever conceived.”

“Instead of helping young people discover that America is the greatest, most tolerant, and most generous nation in history,” Mr Trump writes in RealClearPolitics, “it teaches them that America is systemically evil and that the hearts of our people are full of hatred and malice.”

He called critical race theory, an academic theory that seeks to critically examine the role of systemic racism, a “program for national suicide.”

In his remarks on Thursday, the president, echoing a speech recognising the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre from the Oklahoma city, the first president to do so, said “great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments. They embrace them.”

“We must learn from our history and we must teach our children our history, because it is part of our history as a nation,” Vice President Kamala Harris said. “It is part of American history.”

The former president said that “teaching even one child these divisive messages would verge on psychological abuse.”

He attacked Mr Biden for revoking a Trump-era order that prohibits federal agencies from teaching about systemic racism in diversity training. The president also abolished Mr Trump’s “1776 Commission” that sought to counter the 1619 Project, a New York Times effort that recognises the legacy of slavery in the US and centres Black Americans in the national narrative.

Conservative activists have launched an assault on local school board races in the wake of antiracist uprisings across the US and pledges from educators to address systemic racism in their institutions.

The coordinated campaign has been amplified by right-wing media and aided by dozens of newly formed local and national groups, conservative think tanks, law firms and GOP lawmakers exploiting unfocused rage around “critical race theory” into a political tool.

Virtually all school districts targeted by those efforts are not teaching “critical race theory,” according to an analysis from NBC News, though the term has become a catch-all phrase referring to diversity training, equity initiatives, and teaching about race or racism and LGBT+ inclusion.

The former president outlined several “reforms” that he says parents should demand from schools and lawmakers, including banning “taxpayer dollars going to any school district or workplace that teaches critical race theory” and requiring all teaching materials be reviewed “to know exactly what is being taught to their children.”

He argued parents should be able to use vouchers to opt their children out of learning about systemic racism, and called for states to “take back control” of education institutions to stop “churning out radicalized teachers” and to “break the tenure monopoly in public K-12 schools.”

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