He is known for his activism against critical race theory, which he says, "has pervaded every aspect of the federal government," poses "an existential threat to the United States," and is anti-American. He has been actively involved in Republican efforts to ban or restrict critical race theory instruction or seminars.
Critical race theory considers the idea that racism is systemic in the United States; Rufo described his strategy to oppose critical race theory as intentionally misusing the term to conflate various left-wing race-related ideas in order to create a negative association. According to Rufo, "I am quite intentionally redefining what 'critical race theory' means in the public mind, expanding it as a catchall for the new racial orthodoxy. People won't read Derrick Bell, but when their kid is labled an 'oppressor' in first grade, that's now CRT." and "The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.'"
Career and activismEdit
Rufo was a visiting fellow for domestic policy studies at the Heritage Foundation and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute. Later, he was a research fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Christian think tank known for its opposition to the theory of evolution and advocacy for intelligent design to be taught in public schools. In 2017, Rufo was a plaintiff in a lawsuit to prevent Seattle from imposing a 2.25% income tax on sums above $250,000 a year for individuals and over $500,000 for couples. In 2018, he briefly attempted a run for the Seattle City Council.
Anti-critical race theory activismEdit
Rufo opposes critical race theory in governmental and publicly funded institutions, which he has referred to as a kind of "cult indoctrination." Rufo contended in 2020 that "critical race theory has pervaded every institution in the federal government."
Critical race theory considers the idea that racism is systemic in the United States (not just a collection of individual prejudices). Rufo described his strategy to oppose critical race theory as intentionally using the term to conflate various left-wing race-related ideas in order to create a negative association. Rufo said that "[w]e will eventually turn [critical race theory] toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category. The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.'" Rufo has described intersectionality as "a hard left academic theory that reduces people to a network of racial, gender and sexual orientation identities and intersect in complex ways and determine whether you are an oppressor or oppressed." According to Kimberlé Crenshaw, an influential figure in critical race theory, what Rufo and Republicans "are calling critical race theory is a whole range of things, most of which no one would sign on to, and many of the things in it are simply about racism."
Through interviews with Tucker Carlson on Fox News, Rufo reportedly influenced the Donald Trump administration to issue an executive order to prohibit federal agencies from having diversity training that addressed topics such as systemic racism, white privilege and critical race theory. The administration described it as "divisive, anti-American propaganda." The ban was revoked by President Joe Biden on his first day in office. The fight then continued at the state level, with Republican legislators putting forward bans on Critical Race Theory. He has appeared multiple times on Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Ingraham Angle. According to New Yorker writer Benjamin Wallace-Wells, Rufo's story on racially divided bias-training sessions in Seattle was a “phenomenon” that “helped to generate more leaks from across the country” about the contents of courses and diversity training programs.
According to the Washington Post, Snopes and New York (magazine), Rufo has misrepresented contents of diversity training programs and course curricula. For example, Rufo falsely claimed that a diversity consultant hired by the Treasury Department had “told employees essentially that America was a fundamentally white supremacist country,” and urged them to "accept their white racial superiority"; however, the diversity consultant had said no such thing. Rufo denies the Washington Post's characterizations, saying, "This is an absurd position that only an ideologue could believe." Rufo has also falsely claimed that a course curriculum in California called on students to honor the Aztec gods of human sacrifice and to commit “countergenocide” against white Christians, which the curriculum did not do. He also falsely claimed that a document by an Oregon school district "calls for adopting the educational theories of Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire" and advocates turning students against the Marxist "revolution's enemies" and into the "liberated masses". However, the document had no reference to revolution, its enemies, or the liberated masses. It only referenced Freire's call to treat education as an act of liberation and mutual humanization. Rufo claimed that staff resources at the school district "assumes" that whites are born racist; however, the document only urged teachers to move beyond the "belief that you aren’t racist if you don’t purposely or consciously act in racist ways."
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