(Todd A. Smith)
With the current make-up of the United States Supreme Court, nothing is guaranteed.
However, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s vow to ban the teaching of race and racism at Texas public colleges and universities is a clear violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits the government from infringing on free speech.
Therefore, his vow to ban college students, graduate school students and law school students from discussing racial issues amounts to nothing but a ploy to create fake outrage amongst conservative voters in hopes of increasing Republican turnout in statewide elections.
Ariana Garcia of the Houston Chronicle wrote, “The fight over the alleged teaching of critical race theory in K-12 Texas schools may soon be extended to state universities in Texas. Controversial Republican-backed bills against the academic discipline, which studies how race and racism have impacted social structures in the U.S., have had a chilling effect on how subjects about race and gender can be taught in school classrooms.
“Pushback against such legislation has come in many forms, with one of the most recent examples being at the University of Texas at Austin Faculty Council passing a resolution Monday defending the academic freedom to teach about race and gender justice and critical race theory. The resolution states that educators, not politicians should make decisions about teaching and learning and supports the right of faculty to design courses and curriculum and to conduct scholarly research.”
Patrick responded to the resolution on Twitter by saying, “I will not stand by and let looney Marxist UT professors poison the minds of young students with Critical Race Theory. We banned it in publicly funded K-12 and we will ban it in publicly funded higher ed. That’s why we created the Liberty Institute at UT.”
Well, with all due respect to my lieutenant governor, I will not stand by and let him get away with such an ignorant and asinine tweet.
First, college students are not that young.
In fact, they are adults.
As a former college professor, I know many are non-traditional students in their 30s or 40s.
Some have families of their own, full-time jobs and full-time responsibilities with raising children.
Even as a traditional college student when I entered Southern University at 18 years old, no lessons about race and racism could have poisoned my mind because as a young Black man I had already endured enough racism to be a professional on the subject.
White peers had already called me the N-word.
White police officers had already harassed my friends and I for no apparent reason on the same street that my parents had bought a house three years before my birth.
I had already been profiled by White employees at the mall who followed me around the store for no apparent reason.
I had already heard stories of how my parents had to deal with segregation until they reached college age.
I had already heard of the racist comments that White superiors had made in my mother’s presence when she worked for the public school system.
As a future journalist, I watched the news regularly and can remember vividly when racist Whites in Jasper, Texas chained James Byrd to a pickup truck and dragged him through the streets like an animal until his body parts ripped up, causing his death.
That hate crime happened because of race and racism.
By the time I had reached college, I had heard my White peers make racially insensitive jokes about Black people.
I can vividly remember one that went, if you want to starve a Black man, hide his money under his work boots.
So based on my experience with racism the first 18 years of my life, I concluded that many of my White peers had already been poisoned by racism before they ever entered a college classroom.
So my hypothesis is to suck some of that poisonous venom from their hateful blood, conversations about race and racism is the only way to eliminate the poison.
Maintaining the status quo by avoiding the topic of race does more to poison the mind of bigots because the only lesson of race they might get would come from other racists who look and think like them.
Often, a person’s prejudices go away with exposure and interaction, not denial.
The whole point of having freedom of speech is that our founding fathers, correctly, believed that truth can be attained when there is free and open marketplace for thoughts and ideas.
Patrick obviously does not know that about our founding fathers.
Furthermore, he clearly does not comprehend the Constitution because he would know the government cannot suppress free speech in America.
That type of restriction is reserved for Communist countries like China.
On the other hand, maybe he does understand that and that is what he is trying to achieve because many Republicans seem to hate the concept of democracy thanks to the former guy in the White House.
The Republican Party, pre-Trump, often represented freedom and limited government.
To see the GOP go from protecting freedoms to infringing on people’s freedoms if they disagree with people’s views represents the beginning of the end for a once respectable political party.
Patrick’s efforts to ban free speech should not go further than Twitter and one of those cult-like GOP rallies.
But with the current state of the country, you never really know.