Rage machine wants to use ‘CRT’ to whitewash local, national history

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Wednesday night’s Board of Education meeting for the Downingtown Area School District was a bit different than usual — the Fox News-driven Critical Race Theory (CRT) had parents with varying positions expressing their opinion deep into the evening.

The problem is this: in Downingtown and every other school district in Chester County, not one teacher is teaching about CRT. CRT is largely a topic at Law Schools, where there is an argument about whether or not structural racism has had an impact on law and justice in America.

For many — some of whom are now openly White Nationalist — CRT is code for schools teaching the actual history of race in the United States. These folks want to return to a fiction of  happy slaves singing and dancing on the plantation, while a paternal master looks on approvingly. They want to imagine an American history where native Americans gladly accepted their new white neighbors and handed over their territories. They want to portray a history where Japanese-Americans volunteered to go to internment camps.

What they want is a whitewashed fantasy that white folks were always the good guys and those who complain about structural racism are just troublemakers.

Typical of that thinking is a letter sent to the entire DASD Board of Education and for reasons that escape me, The Times, which is about as sensible as pouring gas on your head, lighting it and running down Manor Avenue.

I’m not going to amplify the White Nationalist, racist, ignorant and frankly, pathetic, commentary detailed in a missive titled: Major racism issue Downingtown Area School District ignores from an individual named Brian Jenkins. The fact that he calls for a “Thank You White People Day” is enough to tell you the level of hatred this writer expresses openly.

Understandably, DASD did not want to specifically address this, uh, commentary, but did issue a statement through district spokesperson Jennifer Shealy:

“DASD is promoting equity and inclusion in its schools by teaching kindness, civility, understanding of people and acceptance of others’ lived experiences and backgrounds. Schools that are inclusive and foster the whole child are better able to meet the wellness and academic needs of all students. DEI work creates a culture of kindness, respect, compassion and grace. School-wide strategies that align wellness, inclusion, diversity and equity empower all students to meet their individual and unique goals.”

Certainly laudable and enlightened goals for any school district — and something that shouldn’t raise a controversy.

But, in a cynical attempt to stoke White anger, right wing media outlets keep pushing this CRT issue, despite it being pretty much fake (you’ll note that we’ve seen a series of fake outrage moments — including the utterly false claim of election fraud in 2020 — to stoke up the right wing base and feed the anger machine), some folks are eating it up, turning up at school board meetings, despite not remotely having a clue of what they’re talking about.

This attempt to whitewash our history is an attempt to prevent a needed reckoning of race and history that impacts daily life in America to this day.

Kids need to learn lessons about White settlers ignoring treaties with native Americans — it happened right here in Chester County. The tragic story of Hannah Freeman (known colloquially as Indian Hannah) is a perfect example.

William Penn signed a treaty with the local Lenape agreeing to keep settlers from grabbing the lands immediately on either side of Brandywine unless there were no more Lenape in the area.

Freeman, a healer of great repute for both white and indigenous people in the area, was stuffed into the first Chester County Poorhouse and it was proclaimed she was the last Lenape in the area. She wasn’t, although many had left after a massacre of Lenape in Lancaster in 1763 (one of a number of massacres that the people suffered through in the 18th Century). The White settlers took over the Brandywine Basin, leading to the Chester County we know today. Like it or not, this is part of our shared history.

This was repeated across the country, from broken treaties to the Trail of Tears, with White settlers running native Americans off their ancestral lands, in many cases slaughtering them. 

These are facts. The founding story of America is not a non-stop, feel good story. We need to learn the good and the bad to really understand the nation we have today.

And if we don’t want to talk about the reality of slavery, then we miss the heroic efforts of so many here in Chester County in operating the Underground Railroad — a path to freedom for so many slaves. Chester County was a bastion of the abolition movement — fundamental in the birth of the then new Republican Party. That courage led to the Civil War and the end of slavery.

But we also have to look hard at the corrupt end of Reconstruction and the ensuing Jim Crow Era, when so many of the gains of black people were erased — even today, we see echoes of Jim Crow in our elections and our society.

And of course, the great shame of the 20th Century — the internment of Japanese-Americans in camps during World War II, while German-Americans and Italian-Americans retained their freedom. 

I could literally go on for hours more, but I think you get the point.

There is much in American history to be proud of — and much to feel shame about. If we ignore the bad and only tell the happy news story, we do ourselves and our society a disservice.

Pin It

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment