‘It is not liberal indoctrination’: White House press secretary Jen Psaki defends teaching about systemic racism at American colleges and universities
- Conservatives have made theories of ‘critical race theory’ a key campaign issue
- Sen Tom Cotton this week proposed tax on ‘liberal,’ wealthy universities to fund job training schemes
- Jen Psaki was asked whether young people were being indoctrinated with theories of ‘systemic racism’
- She said it was ‘responsible’ to teach tomorrow’s leaders about the subject
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended American colleges and universities teaching theories of systemic racism as ‘responsible’ on Thursday as she denied allegations that it amounted to ‘liberal indoctrination.’
The issue has become one of the frontline skirmishes in the country’s culture wars in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
Conservatives allege that students are being taught a warped version of American history that claims the impact of slavery remains present throughout society.
And Sen. Tom Cotton this week introduced a bill that would raise a 1% tax on endowments held by the country’s wealthiest schools to fund job training schemes.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sen. Tom Cotton’s suggestion that young people were being indoctrinated was ‘mysterious and dangerous’ as she defended teaching on systemic racism
During her daily briefing, Psaki was asked about his proposal and whether America’s most prestigious universities were indoctrinating young people
‘Well without much detail of where he thinks our youth are being indoctrinated, it sounds very mysterious and dangerous,’ she said with a smile.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States over the last year.
The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of the 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequnces of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.
The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.
Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.
Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.
‘I don’t think we would think we believe that educating the youth, next leaders of the future, leaders of the country, on systemic racism is indoctrination.
‘That’s actually responsible.’
Cotton’s legislation is entitled the Ivory Tower Act.
‘Our wealthiest colleges and universities have amassed billions of dollars, virtually tax-free, all while indoctrinating our youth with un-American ideas,’ he said when it was introduced.
‘This bill will impose a tax on university mega-endowments and support vocational and apprenticeship training programs in order to create high paying, working-class jobs.’
He and his allies have criticized the New York Times 1619 Project, which offered a new look at history based on the date when slaves arrived on American shores, and the teaching of ‘critical race theory’, which asserts that systems and institutions protect white privilege.
Conservatives took up the term after Trump referred to ‘critical race theory’ – an expression previously restricted to academic circles – last year in ordering the Office of Management and Budget to stop funding of diversity training.
They say the teachings reduce people to ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on skin colour.
But supporters say it is vital to understand how race impacts society in order to eliminate racism.
Republicans around the country have introduced bills targeting what they see as liberal indoctrination.
This week the Texas House passed a bill limiting what can and cannot be taught about race and racism, including concepts that ‘one race or sex is inherently superior to another,’ or that someone is ‘inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive’ based on their identity.
Three Republican-led states have now signed laws banning critical race theory in public schools and nearly a dozen others are currently trying to pass similar bills that block or limit it from becoming part of curriculums