Throughout the day on Tuesday, MSNBC anchors and reporters bitterly complained that states like Oklahoma were fighting back against left-wing attempts to push radical propaganda like Critical Race Theory in schools. The coverage falsely claimed the proposed legislation would somehow ban any discussion of race or racism in the classroom and desperately tried to spin the effort to protect students from an extreme political agenda as an attack on free speech.
“So is racism systemic in American society?,” asked Today show co-host and MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin during his 11:00 a.m. ET hour show. He then explained: “That’s really at the heart of a debate that we’ve had in this country for years now. And right now, lawmakers in at least 12 states have introduced bills that ban teaching what’s called Critical Race Theory, in schools.”
In the report that followed, correspondent Antonia Hylton breathlessly warned: “Anthony Crawford worries he could lose his job. He teaches creative writing at Millwood High in Oklahoma City, where a new state law is set to ban certain teachings of race, bias, and history.” After soundbite ran of Crawford talking to his students about racism in society, Hylton hyped:
The law targets Critical Race Theory, a decades-old academic study of the legacy of racism and inequality. But growing chorus of Republicans use the phrase to describe diversity training and historical teachings they see as divisive. The law bans teaching concepts that lead students to feel guilt or discomfort due to their identity.
The reporter was shown speaking with one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Republican State Representative Kevin West, who read a portion of the measure aloud: “No teacher shall require or make part of a course the following concepts, an individual by virtue of his or her race or sex bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
Not finding that provision objectionable at all, Hylton contended it was unnecessary to even have to spell out: “I’ve certainly never heard a teacher say those things.” However, recent comments from Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education member Ruth Veales would suggest otherwise. While lashing out at the legislation, she ranted:
When I listen to what the governor said in his speech, and to say that it is not right for White students to feel like they should be held responsible for the oppression that Black people and others have felt by cause of them....But then let’s talk about the generational wealth, all on the backs of my people, let’s talk about that....and then for White fragility to come in and say ‘I don’t appreciate being called a racist,’ rather than honoring the request to have a place to have these conversations.
Talking to UCLA and Columbia University Law professor Kimberle Crenshaw, “one of the original founders of Critical Race Theory,” Hylton fretted that she “thinks this is only the beginning.” Crenshaw bemoaned: “I’ve been trying to tell people for at least six months that the efforts to respond to the reckoning of last summer was going to metastasize into a backlash. I thought, ‘Okay, so they found their bogeyman.’” She claimed that having her leftist agenda expelled from schools would lead to students having “an education that is less robust than we have even right now.”
After the taped portion of the segment concluded, Hylton told Melvin that “no matter what ends up happening with this law, many of the teachers feel like there’s already been a chilling effect on their speech.”
The report was replayed again in the 2:00 p.m. ET hour, after which, anchor Geoff Bennett spread unsupported fears that somehow the new Oklahoma law would ban the teaching of tragic historical events: “Yeah, I mean, one wonders how, you know, teachers in Oklahoma can teach the accurate history, for instance, the Tulsa race massacre, with a law like this on the books.”
If he had actually bothered to read the legislation, he would have seen that there was absolutely nothing in it that would prevent the teaching of such historical topics. After signing the measure, Republican Governor Kevin Stitt specifically stated:
We must keep teaching history and all of its complexities and encourage honest and tough conversations about our past. Nothing in this bill prevents or discourages those conversations....We can and should teach this history without labeling a young child as an oppressor or requiring that he or she feel guilt or shame based on their race or sex. I refuse to tolerate otherwise.
Bringing up the subject in the 3:00 p.m. ET hour, anchor Ayman Mohyeldin emphasized: “...we know the issue of racism is deep in this country, systemic and deeply rooted.” He then invited NYU Law professor and far-left pundit Melissa Murray to pontificate on the issue. She lamented:
History is written by the victors and the perspectives of those who were not on winning side often get sidelined. What things like The 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory aim to do is to surface those marginalized voices. And when those voices are surfaced that can be incredibly threatening to those whose vision of history has always been predominant.
The radical goals of Critical Race Theory were never honestly discussed and aside from a single brief soundbite from a Republican sponsor of the Oklahoma bill, the actual content of the legislation wasn’t really explained to viewers.
This push to defend the left-wing indoctrination of students was brought to viewers by BMW and Verizon. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.
Here is a full transcript of the May 25 report from Hylton:
11:40 AM ET
CRAIG MELVIN: So is racism systemic in American society? That’s really at the heart of a debate that we’ve had in this country for years now. And right now, lawmakers in at least 12 states have introduced bills that ban teaching what’s called Critical Race Theory, in schools. It’s been around for decades, but after the death of George Floyd, it’s been thrust back into the spotlight. NBC’s Antonia Hylton reports from Oklahoma, where some teachers worry they may lose their jobs because of a new bill.
ANTONIA HYLTON: Anthony Crawford worries he could lose his job. He teaches creative writing at Millwood High in Oklahoma City, where a new state law is set to ban certain teachings of race, bias, and history.
ANTHONY CRAWFORD: Racism is when you can take all these entities that make up a society and only can be controlled by one ethnic group, right?
HYLTON: The law targets Critical Race Theory, a decades-old academic study of the legacy of racism and inequality. But growing chorus of Republicans use the phrase to describe diversity training and historical teachings they see as divisive. The law bans teaching concepts that lead students to feel guilt or discomfort due to their identity.
CRAWFORD: I said, “Oh, okay, I didn’t know what that was.” And now here we are back in May, now they talking about a law. Oh, that was quick.
HYLTON: Representative Kevin West was one of the authors of Oklahoma’s bill.
STATE REP. KEVIN WEST [R-OK]: No teacher shall require or make part of a course the following concepts, an individual by virtue of his or her race or sex bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
HYLTON: I’ve certainly never heard a teacher say those things.
WEST: We can agree or we can disagree on how far this is happening in Oklahoma.
HYLTON: Over the last few months, lawmakers in more than a dozen states have advanced measures to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory. Just one year after the murder of George Floyd sparked mass protests and a reckoning over diversity and inclusion in many American schools.
Kimberle Crenshaw, one of the original founders of Critical Race Theory, thinks this is only the beginning.
KIMBERLE CRENSHAW [UCLA & COLUMBIA UNIV. LAW PROFESSOR]: I’ve been trying to tell people for at least six months that the efforts to respond to the reckoning of last summer was going to metastasize into a backlash. I thought, “Okay, so they found their bogeyman.”
HYLTON: As these bills pass around the country, what do you think will happen?
CRENSHAW: Before we know it, students of color, as well as white students, are gonna have an education that is less robust than we have even right now.
HYLTON: Is this law going to change teacher behavior?
CRAWFORD: It has to. Because now if a teacher don’t want to lose their job, “Okay, well, I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to talk about this knowing that there could be possibly a lawsuit or possibly a way for me to lose my job.” So I know a lot of teachers are going to move a lot differently.
HILTON: Crawford encourages students in his classroom to debate race and history intensely.
CRAWFORD: Imagine it’s a class where they don’t talk about racism.
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL [HILLWOOD HIGHSCHOOL STUDENT]: How are you going to teach American history without speaking about racism. Because you cannot talk about American history without speaking about racism. You cannot do it.
CRAWFORD: Their whole thing was, we shouldn’t teach this in class because we’re going to make other certain ethnicities feel bad.
GIRL: That sucks. I’m sorry, that sucks.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY [HILLWOOD HIGHSCHOOL STUDENT]: I feel bad, but I can’t feel bad for something I didn’t do. It’s you’re your own person. You can’t hate someone because of what their parents did.
HYLTON: He says he’ll keep talking about America’s complicated racial history as he sees fit.
Craig, in my conversations with the students that you met right there, they tell me that they’re going to keep talking about uncomfortable historical topics about race and racism in America whether lawmakers in their state approve of it or not. They say that no law could stop them from doing that.
MELVIN: Such a fascinating conversation, Antonia, at so many levels. These new laws, do we know how they might affect the upcoming school year there?
HYLTON: So, Craig, this law will go into effect in actually just a couple weeks, over the summer. So it’s going to be in place for this upcoming school year. Already we’re seeing teachers and administrators in Oklahoma schools have conversations about this, worry about the materials they might introduce or the conversations they’ve had or may continue to have in their classrooms. And you have to remember, teachers in public schools, they are not highly paid people. So many of them are concerned. You know, they don’t want to potentially be sued or have their careers end up on the line. And so, you know, no matter what ends up happening with this law, many of the teachers feel like there’s already been a chilling effect on their speech.
MELVIN: Yeah, interesting to hear from that professor there from California who all but said she saw it coming. Antonia Hylton, on the ground for us in Oklahoma. Antonia, thank you so much for that report. Thank you.