Acronyms, in this modern age, you gotta love ‘em.
They are quite the modern invention. Perhaps acronyms started with AEF (American Expeditionary Forces) in WWI, or Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging) or maybe with BMOC, short for Big Man on Campus. A soldier can go AWOL, a person can DIY, and we all have a DOB, IMHO.
Further on technology, we have CRT, the acronym that has enriched our lives for decades. Without the Cathode Ray Tube, we wouldn’t have television or our beloved computer screens.
But acronyms sometimes morph to befuddling purposes. That seems to have happened to CRT, now saddled with the additional meaning of Critical Race Theory. This version of CRT has become a rallying cry for misinformed people who somehow believe that the academic study of Critical Race Theory – which explores the ways racism has become embedded in our legal system and policies, and is thus more than the result of the biases and prejudices of individuals – is seen as threatening the country. It is difficult to understand how this decades old academic analytical framework has now become some vague but real danger to U.S. society.
How about another alternative, morphing CRT still further into RCT or Responsible Critical Thinking? The notion of RCT is to think critically and analytically from the start, looking for the best, most reliable and credible information and facts, and then to discuss issues responsibly, with fairness, respect and understanding of their real effect on our country and society. In this approach, one looks for truth, logic, and genuine relevance to and impact on peoples’ lives and needs.
An example to clarify Responsible Critical Thinking might be that of the Pilgrims arriving in 1620 and the Puritans following 10 years later. They are praised today as true champions of religious freedom. But a short six years after arriving in Massachusetts, the Puritans showed they were themselves rigidly intolerant by expelling Roger Williams (who went on to colonize Rhode Island) for his non-conformist religious views. Sixty years later, those same Puritans launched the Salem Witch trials in a fit of mass hysteria, eventually executing 20 or more unfortunate people who had little prospect of proving their innocence.
A person employing Responsible Critical Thinking would think about the evident hypocrisy of people seeking religious freedom who then denied the same religious freedom to their own. A person would seek to understand why Williams was expelled to Rhode Island, and why fears of witches and witchcraft led to frenzy and deaths of innocents. The simple explanation: intolerance and ignorance, echoes of which are clearly evident in today’s Critical Race Theory hoopla.
If you were to apply Responsible Critical Thinking to the manipulated hysterics against academic CRT, one would first recognize the fact that Critical Race Theory is not part of public school curriculums.
More importantly, one would study what actually happened in U.S. history, look closely at past leaders, their intentions and actions, read Confederate secession documents, admit the impact on African Americans of a century of repressive Jim Crow rule, acknowledge that racism spurred the lynching of 4,400 African Americans from 1877 to 1950 (and many other incidents), lament the rampage in Tulsa in 1921, welcome the unmasking of Pensacola’s own KKK leader T.T. Wentworth and so on.
One would also try to think responsibly, to come up with lessons learned and steps to be taken to ensure a better and more just USA. To this middle of the roader, this is good for the country and for Americans as a society. And Critical Race Theory is not partisan in its nature although critics of this article may well try to make it so.
Unfortunately, our failure to embrace Responsible Critical Thinking means that our country’s politics will continue to exemplify perhaps the most recognized acronym of all, SNAFU, or Situation Normal, All Fouled Up.
Mike Mozur is a retired U.S. State Department Senior Foreign Service officer and environmental executive who now lives in the Pensacola area.
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