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Nebraska governor equates critical race theory to Marxism

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Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 8:52 PM CDT
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(WOWT) - In a statement posted to his official website Monday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts equated critical race theory, known as CRT, to a reinvented version of Communism.

Critical race theory has been a hot topic among educational curriculum conversations in Nebraskaand elsewhere — in recent months. The topic even surfaced during last week’s public comment session on Nebraska’s proposed standards for health education, though board members noted in their own discussion that the comments did not apply there.

Proponents say critical race theory is an approach based on the idea that the history of white supremacy still has a very real and lasting impact on society and institutions.

Echoing statements made by former President Trump, Gov. Ricketts says CRT is Marxist, hinging the correlation on the use of the word “equity” over “equality.”

Sadly, communism isn’t something that’s just studied in history books. There’s growing awareness across our state and...

Posted by Governor Pete Ricketts on Monday, August 9, 2021

The governor said CRT attacks American values and represents a step backward for race relations.

“(CRT proponents) teach that racism defines America and that systemic racism plagues our country’s institutions,” he writes. “Critical race theorists seek to remedy what they describe as ‘systemic racism’ by turning back the clock on race relations and promoting a race-based view of the world.”

But according to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans see racism as Pew reported earlier this year that the majority of Americans say they see at least some discrimination toward minorities in the U.S. — and nearly half surveyed say Black people face “a lot” of discrimination in American society.

Pew also notes that the issue seems to fall along party lines, with Democrats being more likely than Republicans to say minorities face at least some discrimination. The survey also notes that about half of whites say they face at least some discrimination as well.

Ricketts is not the only state leader standing firmly in opposition to critical race theory. It’s a sentiment shared by other Republican leaders across the country.

Earlier this summer, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill banning teaching about white privilege and racial equity in K-12 public schools and in public colleges and universities. The ACLU says it blatantly suppresses speech about race; Reynolds said at the time that teaching critical race theory is about “discriminatory indoctrination.”

Florida’s Board of Education also banned CRT from its classrooms, adopting new rules it said would shield schoolchildren from curricula that could “distort historical events.”

The NAACP has described critical race theory as “an academic and legal framework that examines the impact of systemic racism on American society.”

Last month, one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions vowed to defend members who are punished for teaching an “honest history” of the United States, a measure that’s intended to counter the wave of states seeking to limit classroom discussion on race and discrimination. The president of the American Federation of Teachers promised to fight “culture warriors” who attempt to limit lessons on racism and discrimination by labeling it as critical race theory.

Read the governor’s column

In 2021, communism seems like a distant threat to many. Generations of Americans have learned about the atrocities committed by Stalin and Lenin in Russia. Many are familiar with Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which led to the Great Chinese Famine and starvation and death for millions.

Sadly, communism isn’t something that’s just studied in history books. There’s growing awareness across our state and country that it’s reinventing itself right here at home under the label of Critical Race Theory (CRT). Instead of the old narrative of class warfare, CRT envisions a race-based Marxism that divides people along racial lines. It’s packaged under innocuous sounding terms such as “equity” or “anti-racism,” but it seeks to re-write our country’s history and reimagine public policy all based on a Marxist worldview.

Here’s a few things you should know about CRT.

CRT is an attack on the premise that America is working to build “a more perfect union.” CRT proponents reject the notion that America is defined by a shared commitment to universal principles such as the recognition of God-given human rights, equality under the law, and the protection of basic freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly. Instead, they teach that racism defines America and that systemic racism plagues our country’s institutions.

Critical race theorists seek to remedy what they describe as “systemic racism” by turning back the clock on race relations and promoting a race-based view of the world. Ibram Kendi, a leading proponent of CRT who heads the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, openly encourages discrimination on the basis of skin color. He writes, “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.”

CRT advocates also exchange the word “equality” for “equity”—and it’s important to understand the distinction in their choice of language. Our state’s motto is “Equality before the law”. “Equality” expresses the ideal that every individual should receive equal treatment and equal opportunity, regardless of one’s race or background. For CRT proponents, “equity” is the aspiration that our economy and institutions produce equal outcomes. This is the vision Marxists have had for generations.

For decades, CRT has remained a little-known theory, mainly studied in institutions of higher education. Today, it’s being applied in personnel trainings, K-12 schools, universities, and other settings. And it’s happening right here in Nebraska at taxpayer expense. I’ll share two examples.

First, the Nebraska Department of Education promotes a number of concerning materials on their website. Their website highlights the 1619 Project, a project of the New York Times that presents a revisionist history of the American founding. After I recently posted a statement on social media opposing CRT, the founder of the 1619 Project responded to my statement claiming that white supremacy is a “core value” of America. Furthermore, NDE’s website promotes the Zinn Education Project, an organization carrying on the work of self-described socialist Howard Zinn. The Zinn Education Project has been a vocal opponent of states who have sought to ban CRT from being applied in K-12 public schools.

And it’s not just NDE. The Nebraska State Education Association, the union for K-12 school teachers, came to the defense of their national organization, which recently voted to promote CRT.

Second, the Office of the Chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) has launched a “journey toward anti-racism and racial equity.” It established a dedicated group of co-leaders who were tasked with “on-going review of institutional demands paired with responses.” Recently, this group of co-leaders released a statement on the Office of the Chancellor’s website providing a defense of CRT in which they argued that opponents of CRT were aiding the Klu Klux Klan.

It’s not just in the administration—CRT is also being pushed in the classroom. Consider how Dr. Kerry-Ann Escayg, a critical race theorist at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, describes her work: “Anti-racism informs all work that I undertake including the types of research activities I design and implement. I see research as a form of storytelling and anti-racist research as a form of activism.” From Dr. Escayg’s perspective, her research at the University is activism. It’s imperative that our University system reject academic activism in the classroom and center itself on open-minded, evidence-based investigation of our history and society.

There’s a chance to stop the application of CRT at the University of Nebraska. On August 13, 2021 the University of Nebraska Board of Regents will vote on a resolution to prevent CRT from being imposed on their campuses. Passing this resolution is key to protecting student voices and academic freedom. Without the resolution, proponents of CRT will remain free to impose their Marxist philosophy and divide campuses along racial lines. I strongly urge the Board of Regents to pass the resolution to help protect the integrity of our University System.

As this vote by the Board of Regents approaches, it is my hope you will contact your board representative and let them know you oppose CRT. The University system is independently governed by the Board of Regents, who are elected by the people of Nebraska. I do not appoint them. You can find their contact information at nebraska.edu/regents/board-members.

If you want to learn more about how CRT is being promoted in education and other institutions across our country, I encourage you to check out the latest episode of my podcast with Christopher Rufo. Rufo is one of the leading experts on CRT, and has done extensive investigatory reporting on the issue. You can listen to the episode by searching for “The Nebraska Way” on Apple Podcasts.

If you have questions about CRT or any other topic, please email pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244. Let’s protect our students from this anti-American ideology, and keep it from being imposed on the next generation of Nebraskans.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts

The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this article.

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