Ibram X. Kendi is very concerned that online gaming has become a hotbed of white supremacist recruitment, and the only real protection we can offer to prevent this indoctrination is to indoctrinate the kids with antiracism. Of course, if you disagree, you are a white supremacist yourself. Who could’ve guess it?
You know things aren’t going well with the progressive effort to indoctrinate children with Critical Race Theory in grade school when one of antiracism’s leading public figures, Ibram X. Kendi, is reduced to spinning wild theories that it’s necessary to protect young children from predation online by white supremacists. Yes, these white supremacists are apparently gathered in every chat room and gaming site, waiting to pounce on young minds without the prophylactic of Critical Race Theory properly applied. If only white people, or at least Republican white people, would relent in their opposition, these young minds can live lives of endless equality and equity, but alas Republicans are the party of white supremacy, and so they are compelled by racism to resist. I’m not kidding. This is actually Mr. Kendi’s argument as written in a lengthy article for The Atlantic just last week.
He begins, of course, by taking shots at Republicans, identifying “four hugely false conceptual building blocks” on which opposition to CRT is based. First, “Republican politicians care about white children.” Second, “Anti-racist education is harmful to white children.” Third, “Republican politicians are protecting white children by banning anti-racist education.” Fourth, “The Republican Party is the party of white parents because it is protecting white children.” If they truly cared about the children, however, they’d be putting their efforts into protecting them from white supremacy not Critical Race Theory. As Mr. Kendi explains it, “What are white children being indoctrinated with? What is making them uncomfortable? What is causing them to hate? White-supremacist ideology: the toxic blend of racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic ideas that is harmful to all minds, especially the naïve and defenseless minds of youth. Which group is the prime target of white supremacists? White youth.” How are these nefarious groups acquiring these targets? Online gaming of course, where apparently young people gather for a round of World of Warcraft and Nazi indoctrination.
In support of this idea, Mr. Kendi cites left leaning sources from NPR to the Anti-Defamation League to argue that online gaming has become a hotbed of white supremacist recruiting. According to the ADL, nearly one in ten teens aged 13 to 17 who played online multiplayer games had been “exposed” to white supremacist ideology, accounting for some 2.3 million total exposures. It sounds like a lot, but what Mr. Kendi doesn’t tell you: The rate of these “exposures” is actually slightly higher in person than online gaming (11%), and significantly higher on social media in general (17%). Further, this “exposure” is entirely self-reported. The respondents to the survey weren’t asked if they were actually recruited, or even had contact with a recruiter, or to provide an example of what this exposure actually was. Instead, they were simply asked if they were “exposed” to people who “believe that white people are superior to people of other races and that white people should be in charge.” This question was pre-empted by the ADL with an explanation “to respondents the hateful, racist, and antisemitic nature of this ideology,” meaning the study design itself was fatally flawed because the respondents were primed for the key question. Putting this another way, they knew the responses they wanted to get. They informed the respondent precisely what they were looking for, and even then they asked it in the most general way possible. The “people” they were “exposed” to didn’t even have to provide any white supremacist content for the respondent to say yes. Rather, the respondent simply needed to believe this is what this suspicious person thought, and even then they came up with a paltry 10%, a figure so low you might get a similar number asking if they were exposed to extraterrestrials.
Otherwise, the only evidence Mr. Kendi presents are the stories of two parents in the entire country whose children were supposedly recruited by white supremacists. This is not to suggest that white supremacists do not recruit online. I’m sure they do, and I am certain it has happened to someone at some point. Every freak in the world recruits online, from radical Islamist terrorists to pedophiles, but the idea that a paltry 10% of self-reported “exposures” is some kind of existential threat that demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of the entire Republican party strikes me as absurd. Unfortunately, this doesn’t prevent Mr. Kendi from acting like we are witnessing the sudden emergence of a new Hitler youth. From there, he proclaims “Grooming white kids—usually males—in white supremacy can involve inciting them to commit acts of physical and verbal violence. Against kids of color. Against girls. Against Jewish kids. Against Muslim kids. Against trans kids. Against queer kids. Against other white kids,” but fails to provide any evidence whatsoever that white teenagers, recruited online, are committing violence across the country en masse. Where are all the victims of these crimes? Does anyone honestly believe that proto-skinheads are roaming the halls of American high schools, beating up trans-kids, and the media is simply failing to report it?
Next, Mr. Kendi proceeds to identify a classic solution in search of a problem. Of course, the solution to this non-existent crisis just happens to be what he wants to happen regardless, another case of amazing how that works. “In the classroom, kids can read a diverse assortment of books. Kids can discover and appreciate the beautiful human rainbow in all its colors and cultures. Kids can amass empathy and critical-thinking skills. Kids can learn how persistent group inequity is produced by bad rules, not bad people. Kids can see themselves in humans who don’t look like them, speak like them, love like them, worship like them, live like them. Kids can explore the complex history of racism and the interracial body of anti-racist resisters.” In other words, kids can be inoculated against white supremacy by indoctrinating them with Critical Race Theory and antiracism. After all, “This is anti-racist education, and it protects white children—all children—against the growing threat of white supremacists.” In support of his position, Mr. Kendi cites the very teacher’s unions who have been pushing for this in classrooms all along as well, because they are reputable source after locking kids of out classrooms throughout the pandemic. The National Education Association believes “an increasing number of U.S. teens are getting ‘radicalized’ online by White supremacists or other extremist groups” and that the “The best place to prevent that radicalization is U.S. classrooms.” He also cites Joanna Scrhoeder, who wrote in The New York Times, “Kids need to understand—before they encounter their first alt-right memes—what white supremacy looks like. It’s not just a person in a K.K.K. hood but also the smooth-talking YouTuber in the suit or the seemingly friendly voice in the video game forum.”
Apparently, the only way to make them understand is CRT, and of course Republicans have unfairly demonized this completely innocuous ideology, “radically” distorting it in fact. They are doing this by “claiming” schools are teaching “white kids to hate themselves, that they are inherently racist, that they are all oppressors, ‘that they’re superior or inferior,’ as Mississippi State Senator Michael McLendon put it.” In Mr. Kendi’s mind, we’re supposed to pay no attention to recorded phone calls with school officials admitting they are “demonizing” white kids for being born. We’re not supposed to be the least bit concerned about forcing toddlers to “confess” their racism as Mr. Kendi himself recommended in his preschool book, Antiracist Baby. We’re not supposed to worry at all that informing young children, some of whom might well be disadvantaged economically, socially, or intellectually, that they are privileged by their race and the only way to rid themselves of it is to sacrifice this privilege to their minority counterparts. We’re not supposed to wonder whether setting up separate programs for black children, where white children aren’t allowed, might be a bad idea. We’re not even supposed to ask whether or not an ideology that declares an entire country racist, those “bad rules” referred to earlier, based on suspect reasoning and socialist thinking might well be harmful to young minds. Instead, we’re just supposed to take Mr. Kendi’s word for it that all will be well, and of course if you disagree, you are a white supremacist at worst, or at best harming the children. Here it’s worth noting that it doesn’t really matter what Mr. Kendi thinks Critical Race Theory is, or how he believes it should be taught. All that matters is how it is taught and reflected in the culture at schools. Thus, when schools start rolling out disciplinary policies based on race, those that implicitly assume black kids simply can’t behave the same way white kids do for whatever reason, every fair minded person in America has ample reason to be concerned.
Regardless, “They are labeling all of this as critical race theory, simultaneously slandering the academic field of CRT when the nation’s lawmakers sorely need it and maligning anti-racist education when kids sorely need it.” It’s only at this point when we reach the crux of Mr. Kendi’s concerns. CRT in schools is losing, big time, either getting kicked out of schools entirely or costing progressives elections, like Terry McAuliffe in Virginia last year. This is a countrywide, massive phenomena, a pushback that threatens the entire progressive experiment, as even he admits. “As of February, 36 states had introduced bills or taken other actions toward banning anti-racist education and literary materials, and 14 states had passed such measures. More than 17.7 million public-school students enrolled in nearly 900 districts could have their learning restricted during a pivotal time when experts say their education needs to be expanded. And in addition, districts are banning education and literature that can allow white kids and kids of color to recognize the sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia of white supremacists.” In other words, the supply of young students for CRT indoctrination is being threatened. This cannot be allowed to happen, and so the antiracist advocates need a new approach. This time, they’re doing it for the children, as we’ve never heard that before, and CRT is now the cure for every “ism” known to man.
If only they’d be allowed to teach whatever they want, the world would be a better place, and if you dare to stand in their way, you must be a white supremacist yourself. Really, that is the crescendo Mr. Kendi reaches because there can be no fair-minded opposition to progressive plans. “The Republican Party is not the party of parents raising white kids. The Republican Party is not the party of parents raising girls, raising trans kids, raising kids of color, raising queer kids, raising poor kids, raising immigrant kids. The Republican Party is making it harder for all of these kids to learn about themselves and their histories. The Republican Party is stripping parents and educators of their collective ability to protect vulnerable children from being indoctrinated by—or victimized by—the scourge of white supremacy.” Ultimately, he concludes “This Republican Party is not the party of any group of parents, but the party of white supremacy.” Allow me to recap this logic for you in a couple of setences: White supremacists are running rampant online, corrupting America’s children, and the only way to protect them is to teach Critical Race Theory, an idea these same people have long espoused while calling it “honest history,” and because Republicans oppose this, they are “white supremacists themselves. Got it? I have another idea: How about parents tell their children not to talk to strangers and not to trust what they see online? Or, even better yet, how about parents pay attention to what their own children are doing online to help them navigate a world filled with creeps of all kinds? Call me old fashioned, but I think that might do the trick rather than indoctrinating kids to prevent indoctrination, as if CRT was transformed into a mental vaccine against harmful memes.