Rodger McDaniel FILE

Rodger McDaniel

Joseph Goebbels presided over the 1933 burning in Berlin of books ransacked from German universities. It was that important to destroy ideas contradicting Nazi dogma.

Goebbels told those gathered round the bonfire they were saying “no to decadence and moral corruption” by burning objectionable books.

Willfully uniformed conservatives found a better way. No fire. No matches. Instead, they use misinformation to enflame passions. It’s an orchestrated campaign to denigrate those who believe we should learn the truth about racist underpinnings of America.

Wyoming’s top educator is using talking points from above. It’s no coincidence Jillian Balow uses the same words as Trump, Fox News and others on the radical right to criticize certain academic efforts to teach truth.

Wyoming’s Superintendent of Public Instruction turns out to be a partisan hack and not much of a lifetime learner. Wyoming’s Superintendent of Public Misinformation.

I’m betting that prior to joining the uninformed-conservative cacophony disparaging Critical Race Theory, Balow never read the New York Times’ “1619 Project” or Ibram Kendi’s book “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones won the Pulitzer Prize for her role in creating the 1619 Project. Dr. Kendi’s book won the National Book Award for Nonfiction.

What credentials does Balow have allowing her to judge the scholarship of award-winning scholars from America’s most prestigious universities? She won the Republican nomination for her job. She doesn’t need to study the writings she condemns. The conservative underground provides talking points. Balow repeats them. Thus, she calls Kendi’s scholarly-acclaimed work “Marxist.”

Now, there’s a word that goes bump in the night. “Marxism.” OMG! Toss that one into the fire. Burn, baby, burn. People like Balow rely on thread-bare buzzwords to scare the flock.

It’s obvious from her ill-informed critique of CRT. Balow never heard the term before the severely uninformed Donald Trump declared rhetorical war on it. Balow calls it “trendy” and “dangerous,” warning parents it may be “creeping into our schools.” Be afraid, but misinformed.

Balow follows intellectual midgets like Congressman Matt Gaetz, who falsely tweeted that Critical Race Theory “teaches us to hate our fellow Americans based on their identity.” Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges, an expert on the subject, calls such bunk “dumbing down of a very intelligent body of knowledge.”

If people like Balow have a passing interest in truth, they need not weary themselves reading Kendi’s 608-page book. Just ask Dr. Google. She’ll learn that which uninformed-conservatives call “trendy” has been discussed by educated people for decades.

Thirty-plus years ago, like Balow, politicians urged we overlook ongoing racism because, after all, Martin Luther King said we should judge others on the content of character, rather than the color of skin. In the 1980s, legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw responded to such distortions of King’s speech. She used the term “Critical Race Theory” to challenge the erroneous idea that the U.S. had become a colorblind society.

Before CRT entered the discussion, most assumed the law to be unbiased. After all, didn’t our founding documents speak of equality for all? CRT looks deeper into systems designed from the beginning to advantage whiteness and asks, “What do we do now?”

Partisan claims to the contrary notwithstanding, CRT doesn’t suggest whites are inherently racist. CRT attempts to understand how political, legal, economic and other systems have given birth to results skewed so decisively against people of color.

CRT looks at racial disparities in incarceration, homelessness, job and other economic opportunities, child welfare and more. It starts with the fact that there are no inherent differences among human beings that explain those disparities. CRT seeks to understand why they exist.

Another book this crowd wants to “burn” is Robin Diangelo’s “White Fragility.” Ironically, intentionally misleading criticism of these books makes Diangelo’s point, i.e. most white people can’t handle the suggestion they are too fragile to have an honest conversation about race. If Diangelo is wrong, people like Balow should demonstrate openness to a principled dialogue about America’s continuing race problems.

Rodger McDaniel lives in Laramie and is the pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne. Email:

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