Technically, critical race theory is an academic framework for examining the ways in which systemic racism shapes and influences national and social institutions. But to right-wing activists who refuse to understand this, it has instead become a catchall phrase used to attack anything they dislike. This has created a vicious cycle whereby right-wing commentators misrepresent what critical race theory is and instead attribute to it a cavalcade of hypothetical horrors that, in turn, generates panic and outrage among other right-wing activists over something they don’t understand.
Predictably, televangelist Pat Robertson got into the act on “The 700 Club” Thursday, where he claimed that critical race theory is “a monstrous evil” that is encouraging people of color to “rise up and overtake their oppressors.”
“What is it?” Robertson said. “That the people of color have been oppressed by the white people, and that white people begin to be racist by the time they’re 2 or 3 months old, and that therefore the people of color have to rise up and overtake their oppressors. And then, having gotten the whip handle—if I can use the term—then to instruct their white neighbors how to behave. Now, that’s critical race theory.”
“This is the way the communists take over; they try to destroy the children,” he added. “It is a monstrous evil. And you hear, ‘Oh, critical race theory, that’s OK.’ No, it’s not. [You don’t] want to have your children in the third grade indoctrinated into a hate group so that he’ll wind up hating people or hating himself. And so the white people are supposed to feel guilty, and they’re supposed to have white guilt, and the people of color are supposed to cleanse them of that guilt by taking over. It is a monstrous evil.”