Years ago, anyone who whispered about a vast, right-wing conspiracy was labeled as a nut, a conspiracy theorist, a wearer of tin-foil hats.

These days the GOP conspires right out there in the open — to illegally seat Supreme Court justices, to vilify trans Americans, to thwart a commission studying Trump’s Insurrection.

And now the conservative jerk squad is collectively focusing its dim sites on critical race theory, which they all agree is an un-American way of thinking though they lack the vocabulary and analytical skills to explain exactly what it is.

Critical race theory has been adopted as the shorthand for the theories behind Black Lives Matter, the 1619 Project, Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the murder of George Floyd and the racial strife that we’ve been experiencing in the US for the entirety of our history.

But technically it addresses the structural causes — legal, economic and otherwise — that lead to different outcomes between the races in our country. It encompasses slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, the schools-to-prison pipeline and other aspects of American life. And it’s a theory in the same way that gravity is a theory: We live under its rules whether we acknowledge it or not.

Bills are making their way through statehouses across the country, with varying degrees of success.

In North Carolina, the House has already passed HB234, entitled Ensuring Dignity and Nondiscrimination/Schools, which was written expressly to address critical race theory by “prohibit[ing] public school units from promoting certain concepts….”

The text of it reads like panacea for white fragility: no hiring diversity trainers who talk about white supremacy, no blame for “actions committed in the past.” And schools are very specifically not allowed to teach “that the United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex.”

It’s ludicrous, of course, to pass a law like this in a slave state, where Jim Crow flourished and some communities still refuse to tear down their Confederate monuments. But here we are.

It’s been in a Senate rules committee since May 12, and has already passed its first reading.

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