Reader Believes Representative Wells is Misinformed on CRT

By Harvey Pine, Ph.D

I am writing in response to the View from Concord, October 2021 from both State Representatives Louise Andrus and Natalie Wells. While I appreciate the unifying tone they strike and couldn’t agree more concerning the sentiments for our veterans and those currently serving our country, I disagree with the dog whistles they employ to spread misinformation. They uncritically adopt the messages from the right concerning controversial books and Critical Race Theory (CRT).

I do not have strong feelings concerning the books mentioned in Andrus’ opinion piece. My concern lies in the move to strike these books as a response to what has happened in Texas or Virginia, rather than a truly local concern. 

The topics covered in these books are relevant and provide insight into realities too often shoved out of sight.  As parents we have opportunities to know what our children are reading and are able to intervene without banning the content for others.  It only involves spending time with our children, developing trust, and being able to discuss topics that are controversial and perhaps taboo.
Regarding Critical Race Theory, I get a sense that Wells is misinformed on the topic, resulting in misleading her constituents.  CRT has nothing to do with making our children feel guilty or aimed to stoke hate.  It investigates the social, not biological, construct of race and the power dynamics that develop around racial identity.  

In the United States it is undeniable that this has benefited, both intentionally and unintentionally, white people over those of other races.  Without recognizing this, we really cannot address institutional reforms that need to happen if we want equitable communities.  CRT is critical of the liberal approach used to address these challenges to society.  

The most important point about CRT is that it is not being taught in our elementary and middle schools.  In fact, it is taught at very few higher learning institutions.  Frankly, this is another conservative bogeyman used to scare, as fear has been a tremendous tool to exploit in the pursuit of power.

Now, I can understand that some may point that I may be displaying my hypocrisy when I end this letter stating that masking children in our school should not be up to parent choice.  You might say, “You trust parents to intervene and make decisions about controversial books, but not to make decisions regarding masks?”  

I would say that I do not fear ideas or points-of-view that may offend my values and beliefs.  We have the capacity to be critical, engage in discussion, and express disagreement about any topic.  

Viruses are different; we cannot reason with an infection and discuss its impact to individuals and our community.  We can put controversial ideas that come into our lives into context with our beliefs; we cannot do so with COVID-19. 

When it comes to ideas, I put individual freedoms first. With infections, community comes first.  Let’s protect each other.