June 21, 2021

"The Washington Post's @laurameckler spent three weeks preparing a hitpiece against me."

"In this thread, I will expose five flat-out lies, from the fabrication of a timeline to multiple smears that are easily disproven by documentary evidence." 

So begins a Twitter thread by Christopher Rufo. 

Here's the WaPo piece he's attacking: "Republicans, spurred by an unlikely figure, see political promise in targeting critical race theory." From that article: 

Critical race theory holds that racism is systemic in the United States, not just a collection of individual prejudices — an idea that feels obvious to some and offensive to others. Rufo alleged that efforts to inject awareness of systemic racism and White privilege, which grew more popular following the murder of George Floyd by police, posed a grave threat to the nation. It amounts, Rufo said, to a “cult indoctrination.”...

“We have successfully frozen their brand—'critical race theory’—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category,” Rufo wrote. “The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think 'critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”

Rufo said in an interview that he understands why his opponents often point to this tweet, but said that the approach described is “so obvious.” “If you want to see public policy outcomes you have to run a public persuasion campaign,” he said. Rufo says his own role has been to translate research into programs about race into the political arena.

Rufo, in his Twitter thread, says: "The Washington Post falsifies a direct quotation, claiming that I said it is 'so obvious' that my strategy was to 'conflate' unrelated items with CRT. I never said this and challenge the Post to produce the audio recording to support their claim—or retract it." The word "conflate" is WaPo's. It's a characterization of Rufo's idea of putting "various cultural insanities under" the CRT "brand." Whether he said "so obvious" or not, doesn't he to want to take responsibility for putting CRT at the center of the analysis of all sorts of "crazy" things we're hearing about?


Ann Althouse said...

Amadeus 48 writes:

Hi Althouse—interesting discussion about the use of Critical Race Theory as a catch-all notation for things many people don’t like about the growing movement to put the traditional American civic religion on the defensive. Last week I sent the comment below, which was published on the comments in your notes on Charles Blow’s column in defense of CRT without ever explaining what it is. I suggested that ordinary people who were objecting to CRT were being set up to be denounced by the high priests of woke as ignorant yokels. Nothing in the dispute between Christopher Rufo and Laura Meckler causes me to think anything different. Rufo is being painted as the bad man manipulating Tea Party/Trumpworld to object to a racial crusade for antiracism (which isn’t what it sounds like). This is all leading up to a crescendo of bad things for our country driven by the elites’ squirming discomfort at being accused of racism.

The first several pages of Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic captures all this in the description of a nightmare that keeps the formidable Leonard Bernstein from getting a good night’s sleep. He is accused by a large black man rising from the curve of Lennie’s piano of not doing enough to help black people.

We have been here before. Last time Upper East Siders gave fund raisers for the Black Panthers. This time our universities and other institutions are throwing away our culture and harming civil order.

And here's the older comment he refers to:

Isn’t this a case of Kendi’s How to be Anti-racist, White Fragility, Black Lives Matter, George Floyd, etc. all being put in the food processor and emerging as a smoothie called Critical Race Theory? I think the confusion is real, and it may be intended by elites who are now going to attack the opposition as being fomented by ill-informed yokels who are not initiated into the priesthood of the elect. But my counter is that when one is being talked down to by the likes of Joy Reid, Whoopi Goldberg, Charles Blow, Ibram Kendi, and Robyn DiAngelo, it is not the elect, it is the special ed students…not that there is anything wrong with special ed students as a group, but I don’t look to them for guidance. It’s like getting a lecture from Meghan Markle on how to get along with your spouse’s family.

Ann Althouse said...

Chris writes:

"...efforts to inject awareness of systemic racism and White privilege..."

This phrase assumes things (systemic racism, white privilege) to be settled truth that ought to be open to debate and discussion (but aren't). It's like the author has declared victory and moved on.

Also, 'inject' reminded me of injecting bleach and receiving vaccine injections.

Ann Althouse said...

K writes:

What I object to in CRT is that it skips over the relationship between the disparities in schooling for a large group residing in the black communities in Milwaukee, Madison and Racine and the disparities in outcomes in those same black communities. I argue these disparities in outcomes are due to disparities in schooling of this same group within itself and between itself and the other parts of the community. In these cities there are areas in the black communities in which all the students in the fourth grade are not proficient in math and reading. This early outcome creates "systemic racism," i.e., the unfortunate outcomes so different from those around them in the same community. You simply can't effectively fail fourth grade and do well in later life even if you formally pass - and pass and pass and pass out into life with a high school degree. The people who really passed are going to do better. CRT obscures essential work that needs to be done. What can attention to disparate outcomes among those over 18 do when the driver of the disparities is the disparate educational outcomes among the group's members when they were under 18?

Ann Althouse said...

Jonathan writes:

I approve of Rufo's attacks on CRT-pushers (CRT is, like 'racist', really defined by those who tactically label others with it). However, in his complaint he's unabashedly conflating "contributes to racism" with "racist", and "whiteness includes supremacy" with "whites are supremacists", etc. Either he's sloppy or he's "they started it" fighting to win.

This isn't something to discard Rufo over - I find people who are always 'building credibility to spend it later when it's really important' more suspect than those I see staking their reputation and sometimes losing it. Simply: the people attacking 'whiteness' need to be soundly and repeatedly defeated and single-issue anti-'CRT' careerists (sometimes called 'grifters') are needed - ordinary parents at school board meetings are unwilling to risk it in cities or even suburbs, because the woke minority are extremely vicious in retaliation and have ample free time + motivation for social assassinations.

Ann Althouse said...

MikeR writes:

I read Rufo's list of WaPo's "five lies". Not saying he's wrong, but these "lies" are about as good as a newspaper ever gets. They always get important details very wrong, and/or skewed. Even when they aren't malicious, and here they probably are.

The one about "conflate" sounds like the jury in the libel suit will need a dictionary.