Tuesday I wrote about Sen. Ted Cruz’s questioning of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on the topic of critical race theory. After pointing to some of the backlash to Cruz’s line of questioning I wrote:
All of these responses are a pretty good indication that folks on the left would prefer people dismiss Cruz and not actually see the questioning or hear Judge Jackson’s answers. What the Cruz critics won’t tell you is that at one point, Judge Jackson seemed to be at a loss for words, uncertain how to answer a fairly simple question. If the questions were such a failure, why were they so hard to answer?
In case you missed it, here’s one of the questions Cruz asked about a book recommended by the school of which Jackson is a board member: “Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?”
Ketanji Brown Jackson sits on the board of the Georgetown Day School.
Some of the assigned or recommended books for students include:
“Critical Race Theory: An Introduction”
“The End of Policing”
“How to Be an Anti-Racist” and “Anti-Racist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi pic.twitter.com/OCLRBCsRQP
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) March 23, 2022
The attempt to push back hard on Sen. Cruz for asking these questions hasn’t let up. Last night, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank accused Cruz of hypocrisy.
Georgetown Day School, in the nation’s capital, does indeed take a strong “anti-racism” approach. So does St. John’s School, the private school in Houston where, as the New Republic’s Timothy Noah noted, Cruz sends his daughters…
there in the St. John’s library catalog is — wait for it — Kendi’s “Stamped (for Kids),” the very book Cruz demanded Jackson account for at Georgetown Day School. Cruz’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The fact that Kendi’s books are part of the school’s library or that the school is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion isn’t quite the same thing as having the book Antiracist Baby recommended for K-2nd graders at Georgetown Day. Milbank continues:
Jackson’s status as a member of the board of GDS got the full Cruz treatment, with posters and books for props on the dais. He mocked Kendi’s “Antiracist Baby,” which he said is taught at GDS, demanding of Jackson: “Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids [at GDS] that the babies are racist?”
But at his own daughters’ school, the chair of the school’s committee on “diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging” speaks about teaching faculty and parents about “antiracism.” The school, she said, was also contemplating an educational series on “cultural competency, race thought and inclusion.”
Here’s what the chair of the DEI committee actually said:
We have also discussed incorporating some of the educational series done this summer for faculty and parents as a means to provide professional development for our alumni focused on
antiracism, cultural competency, and learning.
We plan to develop an educational series including a possible book club as well as presentations from alumni with expertise in cultural competency, race thought, and inclusion.
So there was a series over the summer for faculty and parents and the DEI chair is thinking about expanding that to alumni as a form of professional development. She also discussed an educational series with presentations from alumni which hadn’t happened yet. It’s not clear who that series would be for or what the content would be.
The bottom line is that summer seminars for willing adult parents is not the same thing as recommending K-2nd grade student read Antiracist Baby as part of the curriculum. If that’s the best Milbank can do then he hasn’t really demonstrated any hypocrisy on Cruz’s part.
What Milbank has done (based largely on an article from the New Republic) is come very close to violating one of the few remaining rules in Washington: Don’t drag people’s children into it. I watched Sen. Cruz’s questioning of Judge Jackson about the Georgetown Day curriculum and he never mentioned her children. He asked questions about what was being taught at the school and whether Jackson supported the content of that material.
And after a long pause, Judge Jackson said she did not support the some of the fundamental concepts of antiracism and added that no child should be made to feel as if they are racist. As I pointed out previously, that’s a sentiment that would be embraced by many of the supporters of anti-CRT bills introduced around the country recently. Isn’t the fact that Judge Jackson seems to agree kids shouldn’t be made to feel like racists more newsworthy than what’s in the library at the school Sen. Cruz’s daughters attend? You would think so.
Sen. Cruz pressed Jackson on critical race theory, pointing to children’s books used at a school whose board she sits on.
“I have not reviewed any of those books, any of those ideas. They don’t come up in my work as a judge, which I’m respectfully here to address,” she said. pic.twitter.com/9J5u5St95x
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 22, 2022
Update: I was looking for this and it took me a minute to find it. I wrote about Florida’s anti-CRT bill here. Here’s what an analysis of the bill said about making people feel discomfort.
The bill specifies that subjecting any individual, as a condition of employment, membership, certification, licensing, credentialing, or passing an examination, to training, instruction, or any other required activity that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels such individual to believe any of the following concepts constitutes discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin:…
An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.
The key word there is “should.” Students and adults may feel guilt, anguish, etc. when learning about some of America’s racist past but they can’t be taught that they “should” feel these things as if they are somehow responsible for them.
Compare that to Judge Jackson’s statement [emphasis added]: “I do not believe that any child should be made to feel as though they are racist…that they are victims, that they are oppressors.”
She’s drawing the same line that Gov. DeSantis and Florida legislators were trying to draw. At least that’s how it sounds to me. Maybe that’s why so many progressives would rather talk about Sen. Cruz and his kids than about Judge Jackson’s answers.