Scared Republicans Cancel References to Race in Libraries and Schools

It’s bad enough to have Q-Anon adherents like Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene occupying a seat on the racist “America First” caucus in the hallowed House of Representatives.

It seems inconceivable there are members of Congress still promoting the lie Donald Trump won the “rigged” 2020 election and defending the act of domestic terrorism that threatened to subvert its certification on January 6.

Yet the Capitol is not the only place anti-American republicans exist.

All over they are winning elections to local offices, even school and library boards, bringing with them anachronistic, anti-American ideas that threaten to destroy the educated citizenry Thomas Jefferson once wrote is a “vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

Paramount on their list of boogie men: race.

At this moment, republican-led state legislatures are trying to make sure American schools teach how “great” America is by glossing over the history of slavery, critical race theory, colonialism that led to the Indigenous American holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, and anything else deemed “controversial,” like systemic racism.

Some are even going so far as to ban books about racism.

One example is Joe Makula, who won a seat on the Niles-Maine Public Library board in Niles, Illinois in April.

During his campaign, a community member inquired about how he thought the library could better serve the area’s increasing diversity.

Makula responded:

“Instead of stocking up on books in seven different languages, if we got people to assimilate and learn English better, I think we would do more good in that area than increasing our inventory of foreign language books.”

He could have stated he supports repairing the library’s aging roof or ushering in the technology to help low-income community members access the library’s services.

But he didn’t because he doesn’t.

Makula is one of two other “fiscal conservatives” elected to the board who wasted no time in slashing the budget, eliminating staff, reducing hours, and canceling school and nursing home outreach.

This is not an isolated example.

As Truthout reported:

“In places ranging from Kootenai County, Idaho, to Ann Arundel County, Maryland, to Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, to the town of Frisco, Texas, local efforts are underway to limit what libraries offer—especially when it comes to promoting racial equity and gender inclusivity.”

Earlier this month, Texas state senators passed a bill revoking requirements schools teach  Native American history and documents relating to civil rights heroes Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Martin Luther King Jr., and Frederick Douglass.

The bill–SB 3–also lifts requirements to teach “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.”

CNN‘s Julian Zelizer stated in an op-ed:

“Kinds of bills that we are seeing pass in states like Texas amount to the imposition of a very particular version of patriotic education that seeks to downplay the failures and injustices of the United States. This quickly becomes propaganda rather than history.”

Back in September, two months before losing the election to Joe Biden, when Donald Trump was repeating the fallacy either he win the election or it’s “rigged,” Trump announced the formation of the “1776 Commission,” a retaliation against The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project,” dedicated to chronicling the country’s history beginning the year Europeans shipped the first enslaved Africans to American shores.

In April, Senate Minority Leader Mitch “The Grim Reaper” McConnell led 39 Senate republicans in demanding Education Secretary Miguel Cardona retract a “divisive” education proposal to emphasize history and civics lessons about slavery and Black Americans’ contributions to the country as well as remove the 1619 Project from federal grant programs.

In June,, Arizona republicans voted to impose a $5,000 fine on teachers and anyone who “knowingly aids another person” in teaching “controversial” topics.

Idaho, Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Arkansas have either passed or seek to pass similar legislation.

Why are republicans so afraid of critical race theory?

Why are they getting their supporters all ginned up about schools teaching students the truth about slavery and four centuries of institutionalized racism?

If we truly “aren’t a racist country,” what’s the problem?

The problem is, according to the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University director Ibram X. Kendi, the right is panicking over growing racial justice movements after last year’s police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and coalescing in an attempt to reverse the country’s racial awakening.

In an interview with The Guardian, Kendi explained:

“I do think there’s a concerted backlash from people who recognize that this time last year a growing number of Americans were either speaking out against racism or growing an awareness of the problem of racism. That growing awareness has put a spotlight on certain policies and certain ideas and even certain people who have been facilitating systemic racism and so those very people are like, ‘How do we turn off the spotlight? How do we make the problem the people identifying us and our racism as the actual problem as opposed to racism itself?’”

Kendi and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who developed the 1619 Project, have become scapegoats for right-wing media outlets like Fox News, and think tanks like the Heritage Foundation.

As charter-school darling Betsy DeVos exploited her position heading the Education Department to weaken public education, Trump’s propaganda campaign was another weapon against educators, predominantly Democrats, who are, according to republicans, “forcing Marxist critical race theory into our children’s schools.”

Although Donald Trump, thankfully, did not win another term, the party that to him has sold whatever it had left of its soul after 40 years of decline is ensuring future Americans are even more ignorant of its racist colonialist past.

If we don’t acknowledge our history we are condemned to repeat it, as George Santayana said.

The history the republican party wants to condemn us to repeat is the white ethno-state it took a civil war to break.

Republicans are more upset with protests against racism than actual racism.

Despite being up in arms about “cancel culture,” they are terrified of the country’s shifting demographics and are working overtime to scrub references to race in America.

Image credit: The Daily Beast

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.