Nearly two weeks after MSNBC invited Christopher Rufo for an interview about Critical Race Theory only to continually badger and interrupt him, the network’s “Morning Joe” hosted Rufo for an honest and intelligent debate on Tuesday — and Rufo made the most of the opportunity.
Joe Scarborough moderated an engaging discussion between Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and Eddie Glaude Jr., a professor of African American Studies and Religion at Princeton University.
The debate took place days after the National Education Association pledged to teach CRT nationwide during their annual convention. As the Daily Wire’s Chrissy Clark reported, the 3 million-member teachers union promised to inject the controversial and divisive theory into the curricula of “all 50 states and across the more than 14,000 school districts,” as well as to “research the organizations attacking educators doing anti-racist work.” The union subsequently scrubbed the reference from its website.
The NEA’s endorsement effectively blew up one of the leading ways the media have tried to mislead the American people about CRT: They have alternately claimed that Rufo invented Critical Race Theory, or that CRT is not taught in public schools and remains confined to law schools.
The “characterization that Christopher started the conflict over Critical Race Theory — that’s like Dr. Evil’s father claiming to invent the question mark,” said host Joe Scarborough. “I’m doubtful.”
He then let Rufo explain his views at length and without interruption.
“Critical Race Theory, in simple terms, is an academic discipline that holds that the United States was founded on racism, white supremacy, and patriarchy, and that those forces are still at the root of our society today. Critically, Critical Race Theory reformulates the old Marxist dichotomy of oppressor and oppressed, but it replaces the class categories of proletariat and bourgeoisie with the racial categories of white and black,” he said.
“You can teach about slavery, discrimination, and racism, without using Critical Race Theory,” said Rufo, dispelling another Democratic talking point in the process. Rufo then clarified that the agenda of CRT goes far beyond teaching about historical oppression, which U.S. public school teachers have incorporated into their lesson plans for generations.
As Rufo has documented, Critical Race theorists “call into question the 14th Amendment, equal protection under the law. They call into question the First Amendment right to free speech. They oppose capitalism and believe that a system of collectivism must be implemented in order to improve society.”
“It’s not a benign philosophy about teaching racism,” Rufo said. “It’s a radical philosophy that is rooted in Marxism and is frankly inappropriate as a pedagogical framework for teaching children.”
Glaude, in turn, attempted to impugn Rufo’s motives and besmirch the character of those who find CRT unworthy of study.
“You’ve already stated very explicitly that this is not about Critical Race Theory. This is about branding,” Glaude said.
“Nope,” replied Rufo.
Glaude then cited his feelings as a reason to shut down the nation’s parent-driven debate about CRT.
“I’m scooting up in my chair, Joe, because I’m getting upset,” he said. “Because we’re seeing right now, in real time, a reassertion of the lie — the very thing that keeps us from becoming a different America, because we don’t want to accept who we are [and] what we’ve done.”
Refusing to engage the substance of Rufo’s arguments, Glaude instead beseeched MSNBC viewers to question CRT opponents’ motives and compare them to seditionists.
“What we need to be asking is why are they doing this at this point, why are they making these arguments at this moment,” he said.
“I want us to link it to January 6. I want us to link it to the attack on voting rights,” Glaude continued. “This is, in effect, in my view, Joe, an attempt to arrest substantive change in the country.” The Left needs to refuse to “give these folks the credit that they’re making the arguments in good faith. … I don’t think this is a good faith argument, period.”
Rufo said that he did not deny the historical reality of American racism but merely disagreed with CRT as a useful critical apparatus, especially for children. When he cited a book taught in public schools to fourth graders which anthropomorphizes whiteness as the devil, Glaude noticeably rolled his eyes.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) July 6, 2021
The argument spilled out onto Twitter after the show, as Rufo posted photos of the book Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness, which verified his description:
I find what you’re doing to be insidious.
— Eddie S. Glaude Jr. (@esglaude) July 6, 2021
Glaude again replied by citing his feelings, tweeting, “I find what you’re doing to be insidious.”
“Do you think that public schools should be teaching kindergartners that ‘whiteness’ is the devil and lures them with ‘stolen land [and] stolen riches’?” asked Rufo. “To me, that seems insidious, but you are free to disagree.”
The two already agreed to meet again on “Morning Joe” at an as-yet undisclosed day next week. Scarborough promised to be “more specific” — and will likely be far more critical of Rufo — in future exchanges.
Joe Scarborough deserves tremendous praise for conducting a thoughtful, respectful, fair, and substantive debate on a fiercely partisan network.
His treatment marked a significant departure from the treatment meted out to Rufo during Joy Reid’s monologue-posing-as-an-interview on the June 23 episode of “The ReidOut.” Reid interrupted Rufo 27 times in 13 minutes. MSNBC later posted the farce on YouTube under the title “Joy Reid Schools Critical Race Theory Critic On Legal Scholarship.” Days later, Reid misstated numerous facts about CRT in an interview with author Ibram X. Kendi, which she replayed on Monday.
Scarborough revealed that numerous acquaintances — including “liberal members of the mainstream media, Democrats that are huge contributors to the Democratic Party, and even people that work for Democrats” have privately voiced their concerns about CRT in public schools. “I’ve heard over the past three or four years, ‘I’ve got to get my kid out of this private school. They’re teaching my 7-year-old boy that because he’s white he’s, you know, a racist, he’s part of the problem.’”
“You have to wake up: This is not just conservatives and Republicans,” Rufo told Glaude. “In fact, the greatest opponents are center-left liberals … and also racial minorities.”
Rufo said the problem is that the Left has overreached. “They’ve taken on all of the most radical, hard-Left ideologies. Now they’re institutionalizing them, promoting them in all 50 states.”
“You can’t retreat, because parents know what they’re seeing every day,” Rufo told Glaude. “They’re rightly and very strongly pushing back.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.