How hard it must be to be as fragile as Ryan Walters
Let’s just get to it.
Ryan Walters, our alleged state superintendent of public instruction, was in Norman on Thursday.
There were protesters across the street at Andrews Park and there were protesters on his way in the door of the architectural marvel that is Norman Public Library Central, Walters there to speak at a county Republican Party meeting.
Though, it would appear, non-Republicans attended, too.
In it, Walters was asked how the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre might possibly be taught under his definition of forbidden critical race theory; a theory nobody quite understands, not that it’s stopped Walters from threatening Oklahoma teachers’ jobs should they teach it.
Here would be a transcript of Walters’ latest soundbite heard ’round the world:
“I would never tell a kid that because of your race, because of [the] color of your skin, or your gender, or anything like that, you are less of a person or are inherently racist. That doesn’t mean you don’t judge the actions of individuals. Oh, you can absolutely; historically, you should. ‘That was right, this was wrong, they did that for this reason.’ But to say it was inherent because of their skin [color] is where I say that is critical race theory. You’re saying that a race defines a person. I reject that. So I’d say you’d be judgmental of the issue, of the action, of the content of the character of the individual, absolutely. But let’s not tie it to the skin color and say that the skin color determined that.”
He’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Only this time, Walters wasn’t dog whistling, wasn’t trying to score cheap (or righteous) political points, wasn’t even demagoguing an issue from the driver’s seat of his car.
This time, with no grand politically consulted plan behind him, he was telling us what he really thinks. And strangely, in so doing, exposed his and so many others’ disregard of critical race theory as an invented sham at odds with actual history.
Let’s go through it.
“I would never tell a kid that because of your race, because of [the] color of your skin, or your gender, or anything like that, you are less of a person or are inherently racist.”
Nobody’s asking you to.
It would be wrong to do it.
But what on earth does that have to do with race not playing an inherent role in the Tulsa Race Massacre. It’s called THE TULSA RACE MASSACRE!!
Less than 60 years after the Civil War, would the perpetrators of that massacre have done it had their victims been white like them? Is it merely coincidence, or happenstance, it took place on “Black Wall Street.”
You’re saying that’s irrelevant?
Gallagher, the comedian, had a bit about how drivers should be able to shoot suction darts with flags attached proclaiming “Stupid” at the vehicles of lousy drivers and when police came upon a car with multiple darts attached, the lousy driver could be pulled over for being an asshole. But is there a “Stupid” flag big enough to suit Walters?
“That doesn’t mean you don’t judge the action of individuals. Oh, you can absolutely; historically, you should, ‘That was right, this was wrong, they did that for this reason.’ But to say it was inherent because of their skin [color] is where I say that is critical race theory.”
He’s giving away the game.
If we agree he’s representing critical race theory accurately, he’s exposing it for disagreeing with itself.
“They did that for this reason.”
So, what if they did it because their victims were black? What if they did it out of pure unfiltered racism? What if THAT was the reason?
Or are you trying to tell us racism isn’t really about racism but many things: lack of education, ignorance, fear, misinformation; and therefore racism isn’t really racism at all, but a confluence of more innocent factors, thereby making race, even in something called a “Race Massacre,” irrelevant.
By golly I think you are.
If racism was never about race in the first place, I guess we really do live in a post-race world. A no-race world?
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“You’re saying that a race defines a person. I reject that. So I’d say you’d be judgmental of the issue, of the action, of the content of the character of the individual, absolutely. But let’s not tie it to the skin color and say that the skin color determined that.”
Everybody should reject race defining a person. For instance, Walters’ whiteness doesn’t define his idiocy. He got there on his own. Also, the Black kid he’d never tell is less than because of the color of his skin shouldn’t be defined by race either.
But that doesn’t mean that Black kid and others of his race, historically and right now, haven’t and don’t face obstacles that have everything to do with race, from slavery, to Jim Crow, to police bullying, to the dangers of bumping into modern-day bad-attitude racists on Oklahoma streets and dwellings emboldened by Walters’ rhetoric.
Perhaps this is too far in the weeds.
Back up to the forest.
Because the insidiousness of the whole idea Walters’ words seek to establish is clear and here it is.
If you can say that, because individuals are not defined by race, we therefore should not, cannot and it would not be prudent to teach the color of a person’s skin plays, played or continues to play a role in American history, well … you don’t have to teach history with any accuracy at all.
The Civil War, therefore, wasn’t about slavery, but economics.
The Ku Klux Klan wasn’t and isn’t a racist anti-Black organization, but a collection of white protestants concerned with the direction of a nation away from its original Christian values.
The Tulsa Race Massacre wasn’t about white-on-Black theft, murder and annihilation, but about one group of people of irrelevant skin color seeking to crush, steal and kill the threatening success of another group of people of irrelevant skin color.
Put it together and there’s no racist history in this country at all, only bad acts committed by people toward other people, utterly disconnected, which is not American history at all.
Perhaps you caught it.
One of Walters’ remarks entirely invalidated the rest of them.
“But let’s not tie it to the skin color and say that the skin color determined that.”
Yeah, let’s just not do that.
Let’s not do it, even when it did.
Let’s not teach history, because it makes Ryan Walters and others like him uncomfortable about something inside of them they’d rather not face.
Oh, to be so fragile.