Letter: Questions to ask about writer, Critical Race Theory

Dan Oleksak on Monday, Nov. 29, purported to have the “right way” to look at CRT (“The Right Way to Look at Critical Race Theory,” page 4, Nov. 29). The rest of us mere mortals have no such conceit that there is only one right way to see things, whether we be liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans, black or white, female or male. In place of Oleksak’s certainty, please consider a few questions.

Is Critical Race Theory (1619 Project) even taught in elementary, middle, or high schools in the U.S.? Does CRT appear in the required curriculum in any state, or in any K-12 textbooks? Or are assertions that CRT is being widely taught just propaganda to stir up our concerns and influence voters?

Are Oleksak’s distinctions between “equality” and “equity” accurate? Oversimplified? Is “equity” really “we all get the same size slice of bread no matter who worked harder and who deserved it more”? Or does “equity” mean recognizing that we do not all begin from the same situation and, thus, need to make adjustments to imbalances so that we all have the same chance at success?

Is teaching about the long history of racism in America fostering a sense of “victim” in those very people who were so long oppressed? Or does such teaching help us all to understand how far we have come but also how far we still have to go? Are residents of Westfield afraid of the truth? If not, then why must Oleksak use derogatory terms (“boogieman,” “gobbledygook”)?

Why doesn’t Oleksak recognize his own implicit contradictions? He concedes that there was a long history of slavery, of repression under Jim Crow laws, that Martin Luther King Jr. and others worked for years calling for equality, that it “took some time for tensions to settle.” Doesn’t Oleksak realize that tensions have still not settled, that the U.S. is still struggling with the consequences of racism? Should “the left” follow Oleksak’s advice and cease to advocate for a more just society, just so they can win elections? Oleksak mentions Abraham Lincoln; where would we be today if Lincoln had followed Oleksak’s counsel and abandoned his principles in order to curry favor with the voting public? Should Democrats or Republicans do such?

Why did I spend 34 years in Westfield teaching U.S. history to our eighth graders if I did not believe that Westfield residents, young and old, truly want to know the truth, sincerely seek a better society for all, and want the blessings of this great country bestowed on all?

Scott Clark

The writer is a retired teacher at Westfield Middle School.

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