US media is reporting that a group behind attacks on ‘critical race theory’ during the recent Virginia state governor’s election has ties to President Donald Trump’s allies and is funded by so-called ‘dark money.’ According to a CNBC report:
A group that fueled attacks on critical race theory during Virginia’s hotly contested gubernatorial race has ties to several of former President Donald Trump’s allies, including Newt Gingrich and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. The group, 1776 Action, is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit “dark money” organization that isn’t required to publicly disclose its donors. Gingrich and Carson themselves aren’t listed among the group’s leaders, although people close to them — including family members and former top aides — have leadership roles. Before this year, it was known as the American Legacy Center. It targeted Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election and congressional Democrats during the 2018 midterms. The organization raised over $2. 3 million from 2014 through 2019, according to their public 990 forms reviewed by CNBC. Records for 2020 and 2021 are not yet available. 1776 Action did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment before publication. The organization, which says it is committed to stopping “anti-American indoctrination,” is positioned to continue pushing its message during next year’s midterms and then perhaps the 2024 race as conservative forces increasingly take aim at critical race theory. The group’s rebranding came as new fronts in the conservative-liberal culture war erupted over teaching about race and racism in schools. Critical race theory is an academic approach to studying the impact of racism. It is taught at the college and graduate school level. Conservatives have recently used the term to describe any anti-racism discussion or even any mention of race in schools. Republicans have largely opposed the teaching of critical race theory, and it was a pivotal issue in the Virginia election.
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Critical Race Theory is defined by a US educational publications as follows:
Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies. The basic tenets of critical race theory, or CRT, emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others. A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of inhabitants. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas.
However, as the Washington Post reported in March, Christopher Rufo, a well-known conservative activist in the US had tweeted that his goal was to use CRT as a catchall concept “to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans. The apparent disinformation effort appears to have wildly succeeded. As NBC News has observed:
Conflicts like this are playing out in cities and towns across the country, amid the rise of at least 165 local and national groups that aim to disrupt lessons on race and gender, according to an NBC News analysis of media reports and organizations’ promotional materials. Reinforced by conservative think tanks, law firms and activist parents, these groups have found allies in families frustrated over Covid-19 restrictions in schools and have weaponized the right’s opposition to critical race theory, turning it into a political rallying point. While the efforts vary, they share strategies of disruption, publicity and mobilization. The groups swarm school board meetings, inundate districts with time-consuming public records requests and file lawsuits and federal complaints alleging discrimination against white students. They have become media darlings in conservative circles and made the debate over critical race theory a national issue.
In June, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported on a likely Republican Party disinformation campaign in the form of a new organization that announced that it had launched with an initial “initial seven-figure national ad campaign of well over $1 million” to combat what it describes as political influence in US schools.
In August, we reported that an organization called “Unkoch My Campus” said it had uncovered ties between the ultra-conservative billionaire Koch family and 28 conservative think tanks and political organizations who published extensive material on Critical Race Theory.
The GIOR has also been reporting on Russian efforts to capitalize on the controversy over CRT.
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