Ping-Pong Cancer

The news coverage and debates about Critical Race Theory are especially frustrating because they’re pretend. CRT isn’t a problem. CRT is being taught in exactly zero K-12 schools. CRT is hurting no one. And CRT doesn’t need to be solved/fixed with new laws. The only reason we’re having to talk about CRT and read about CRT and argue about CRT is because the Republicans know if we’re using up all our energy on CRT then America won’t have time to solve actual problems. They’ve used the same strategies for years (so many years!) bringing up other fake problems like The Caravans, Sharia Law, and The Gay Agenda, instead of coming up with plans, policies, and platforms that Americans want to support.

I wrote a thread about this, and made a comparison to what this kind of distraction/time-wasting strategy would look like in an operating room. I’m going to share it here in case you’d like to read it.

Critical Race Theory is the current time-waster/energy-suck of Republicans. It’s a nonexistent “problem” that they force to the front of all conversations. Then they try and “solve” the problem with unnecessary and unhelpful legislation. 

This is what this time-wasting strategy would look like when applied to a hospital. Imagine an operating room where a patient is waiting for a kidney transplant. There are two doctors:

Dr 1: Shall we begin the kidney transplant? 

Dr 2: It’s not the right time to talk about kidney transplants. I’m starting to suspect you are trying to ignore the ping-pong problem?

Dr 1: What? What are you talking about? What is a “ping-pong problem”? 

Dr 2: Really? You’re going to pretend you don’t know what ping-pong is? That’s funny because I saw a picture of you on your very own Facebook account, where you were literally playing ping-pong.

Dr 1: What?? I know what ping-pong is, I thought you were saying there was some sort of complication related to kidney transplants called a “ping-pong problem”. I’m so confused. Why are you talking about ping-pong? We need get this transplant started.

Dr 2: Sure. I’m supposed to believe you don’t know what a big problem ping-pong is. I guess your fancy “NY Times” hasn’t spelled it out for you? Typical left-wing press.

Dr 1: What?? What are you saying? What is the problem with ping-pong? Let’s just do the transplant!

Dr 2: Ping pong causes cancer. Period. There are millions of people (CHILDREN!) playing ping-pong right this minute. And they are ALL getting cancer. What could possibly be more important than that? Exposing ping-pong cancer is my number one focus.

Dr 1: Okay. I don’t know what you heard, but that’s not true. Ping-pong doesn’t cause cancer. It’s an odd assertion and it’s coming out of nowhere. I don’t understand why you’re talking about ping-pong. This patient is going to die if we don’t get started on this transplant.

Dr 2:  See. That’s exactly what’s wrong with America. You won’t even LISTEN to me. You’re in denial about ping-pong. You’re got your head in the sand. You think you know everything! You’re always trying to silence me. This is straight-up cancel culture!!

Dr 1: I’m not trying to cancel you. But I am sure ping-pong doesn’t cause cancer. Do we really have to spend time talking about this? We have the tools and knowledge and opportunity to help this patient. Let’s get it done. Let’s accomplish this good thing!

Dr 2: It doesn’t matter what you say. I KNOW the truth. Ping-pong DOES cause cancer. I’ve set up a study with 1000 ping-pong players to research this horrific problem. The study will last 6 months and use 1/4 of the hospital’s total yearly budget to carry it out. 

When the ping-pong cancer study is complete, we’ll form a committee to analyze the results and suggest policies to curb this PRESSING issue. I refuse to work on or discuss ANY other issues until ping-pong cancer is cured.

Dr 1: Please! We have a chance to do something real and good right this minute! Kidney transplants are highly effective and have huge approval among experts and patients alike. Again, please! Let’s just do the surgery.

Dr 2: CANCEL CULTURE!! It’s shameful that you won’t even DISCUSS this issue. I refuse to do the surgery. I’m leaving now. I have an interview with a NYT journalist about ping-pong cancer. I need to tell their 70 million readers how I’m being silenced!!

[End of story]

CRT is no different than ping-pong cancer. It’s a made-up problem that Republicans can “solve”, while simultaneously wasting everyone’s time, and preventing any real and helpful solutions to real and pressing problems, from being implemented. 

When all the energy is needed to convince people not be scared of pretend “ping-pong cancer,” there’s no energy for anything else. Now it’s CRT, but it could also be The Caravans, or Sharia Law, or The Gay Agenda. It’s all wasteful nonsense.

We all have limited resources, time, and energy to solve problems — politicians, journalists, all of us. And Republicans keep using up all of those resources. Their main strategy is to waste so much time, and suck so much energy out of the room, that nothing can be solved.

The Republicans’ first and only priority is shooting down anything Democrats suggest. No matter how many Americans support it. No matter how many people it will help. They have no ideas, no proposals, no alternate plans. The only thing they bring to the table is nonsense.

What are your thoughts? Do you see this kind of thing as an intentional strategy? We should be working on solutions to climate change, gun violence, immigration, poverty, and infrastructure. We have real plans and ideas for these problems, but instead of debating the ideas and making decisions, we’re stuck on an endless loop of CRT. Have you ever had the experience of having a serious conversation set aside and instead having to use your energy on something that’s ultimately nonsense?

If you’d like to see commentary in response to the thread, check it out on Twitter or Instagram.

13 thoughts on “Ping-Pong Cancer”

  1. I agree that CRT is a red herring. What I would be interested in hearing more about is DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) programs in schools. I often think DEI is being conflated with CRT. While I am very interested in my children learning deeply about the horrors of the slave trade, abuses in the tea trade, the magnificence of the Malian, Incan and Mayan empires and women mathematicians. (Examples from this year) and I truly hope that they receive better lessons than I did about the Civil War, Jim Crow era, redlining, poor treatment of Native Americans, and many more ongoing health, economic and justice inequities that have created persistent problems in America. These touch the surface as there is so much more to know and understanding to be had. Where I have had a problem is that my child feels they have been told they are evil for being white (if not explicitly then that is what they have come to understand), been separated from dear friends at lunch because they are not POC (lunchtime affinity groups) and in general struggling with these things as well as social isolation from the pandemic. I have no easy answers and I don’t deny that POC have had to face worse and similar struggles but I fear the tactics may be alienating children who would have been anti-racist allies because some children are taking a message of self-loathing away from what (at least in our case) the school is teaching. In the rush to address the problems of racism it sometimes seems rushed and clumsy and many of the educators are not great at implementing programs.

  2. I don’t believe CRT is nonsense, but you’ve made “Dr 2” such a straw man that it makes having a conversation difficult.

    First, a definition of CRT: “Crenshaw—who coined the term “CRT”—notes that CRT is not a noun, but a verb. It cannot be confined to a static and narrow definition but is considered to be an evolving and malleable practice. It critiques how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism perpetuate a racial caste system that relegates people of color to the bottom tiers.”

    I would argue that the statement, “CRT is being taught in exactly zero K-12 schools” is either wrong or short-sighted. At a bare minimum, it is being used in many schools in order to create lesson plans. So even if the process of the theory is not being taught, the outcomes of the process are definitely being taught. An example of this would be “The 1619 Project” which “reframes the country’s history by placing the consequence of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” (NYT) According to the Pulitzer Center, tens of thousands of students were taught the curricula from the 1619 Project and 5 school systems adopted in a large scale.

    Further, I suspect that the true issue that many have with CRT is in its own foundational beliefs. “Critical race theory emerged out of postmodernist thought, which tends to be skeptical of the idea of universal values, objective knowledge, individual merit, Enlightenment rationalism, and liberalism — tenets that conservatives tend to hold dear.” This is from EdWeek.

    And I do believe it is dangerous, the first comment on your post illustrates one of the dangers, “I fear the tactics may be alienating children who would have been anti-racist allies because some children are taking a message of self-loathing away from what (at least in our case) the school is teaching.”

    The flip side of this is the danger that children of color may internalize that the system is rigged against them and decide to give up and not pursue their dreams.
    Quote from a black father speaking about the dangers of CRT: “How do I have two medical degrees if I’m sitting here oppressed? No Mom, no Dad in the house. Worked my way through college…. You’re gonna tell me that someone that looked like all y’all white folks kept me from doing that? Are you serious?!?”

    1. April, I don’t think you and I agree on the definition of straw man. Doctor 2 is no straw man. He represents quite well what is happening. Take voter suppression. Voter suppression has become part of the official platform of the Republican party. Last week 41 Senate Republicans representing just 69 million Americans blocked the For the People Act that 225 millions Americans support (I’ll repeat: most Americans support it! Republicans and Democrats!). And “fears” about CRT were used as a distraction from coverage about the vote.

      It could be easily argued that the way conservatives are using CRT like some sort of weapon is definitely a straw man. One in a long line — there are charts and graphs about how Republicans obsess over problems-that-aren’t-actually-problems. Transphobia in January, cancel culture and Dr. Seuss in late February/early March, the border crisis in late March, and now, CRT. What will the new “dangerous” complaint be next month?

      The fact is, there’s a right-wing propaganda machine in the U.S. that instructs millions of conservatives what the latest “fear” is and what to think about it. And the machine works fast. Note: There is no left-wing equivalent of this machine.

      CRT is not being used to create lesson plans in k-12 schools. That’s a lie. Maybe what you’re trying to say is that you don’t like that 5 school districts (out of how many in our country?) are attempting to teach accurate U.S. history that hasn’t been whitewashed. If you prefer that America stick to white-washed history — never mentioning things like the Tulsa Race Massacre — then just say so. If you have specific issues with the (incredible!) 1619 research project, then just say so. Stop using CRT as an over-arching term to encompass everything you don’t like. You are being manipulated.

      Are you aware, that Christopher Rufo, who singlehandedly brought about the conservative CRT moral panic, has openly admitted he doesn’t know or care what actual CRT is about? He specifically chose to make the term a bogey man because of it’s “ominous sounding name.” Rufo has written about his intentions: “We have successfully frozen their brand—”critical race theory”—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it 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.” We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”

      Rufo intentionally manipulated conservatives, and clearly you fell for it. And now, here you are, sucking all the air of the room and demanding we look closely at CRT and debate it and analyze it and take your “worries” about it seriously. You don’t actually care about CRT, but all these discussions mean we aren’t getting anything helpful done.

      Regarding your condescending worry about Black students internalizing negativity, I’ll offer this response from historian Michael Harriot: “I’m not really concerned about the stupid backlash to CRT, “wokeness,” or reverse racism… I just find it interesting that their worst fear is the horrific possibility of innocent little white kids being subjected to THE EXACT SAME THING their schools do to Black kids every day.”

      More commentary and resources:

      A tweet confirming the time-wasting strategy Republicans are using regarding in the infrastructure bill:
      Wow, who could have possibly predicted that Senate Republicans were wasting months of a Dem majority’s precious time negotiating in bad faith just to suddenly renege on a bipartisan agreement w/ new, mercurial demands after doing exactly the same w the Jan 6th commission

      A thread and article on federal housing policy that has excluded Black families for decades. “Between 1934 and 1968, 98% of loans insured by the FHA went to White people. The presence of a single Black family in a new subdivision was enough for them to refuse financing. The result was residential segregation and a legacy of entrenched disadvantage.” A clear example of systemic racism that is not taught in schools but needs to be.

      A simple cartoon showing accurate U.S. History regarding the G.I. Bill.

      Another example showing conservative obsession with getting “accurate” history about the election, but not willing to look at accurate history about the roots of enduring racism in this country.

  3. An interesting take! I agree with much of what CD says – “CRT” seems to be being used as shorthand for a more broad BLM-inspired curriculum, and the unintended/unforeseen effects from that is what is causing some people concern, not actual CRT – which to my understanding is a very niche, academic, lawyerly framework. The Atlantic has had many really interesting articles from all different staff writers and different perspectives on this in the last few months – here is one I found interesting! [The article is focused on the idea that curriculum about BLM in schools is a problem.]

    1. Hi Em–
      Read the article. While I’m not familiar with the BLM at school curriculum, the way he describes it does seem to be a little troubling, but it is his take on it. One thing I noticed is that it is a 3 week unit. So I would assume that the rest of the year, this is not quite the focus of the school curriculum. I would also have to say, growing up as a 3rd generation Asian American in California, I experienced a lot of micro-aggressions and outright insults from teachers and students at schools I went to. I don’t think the right thing to do is to “make” white children feel less than or to exclude them, but I do want to point out that the pendulum of White supremacy and White centering has been swinging out in one direction for quite some time. It may take some time for it to swing back to a more neutral, centered position. Some white children may have to feel discomfort while that happens. Talk them through those feelings. Ask them if they like how it feels and what it can teach them. This immediate reaction to CRT being taught in schools seems to me a red herring at this point. I don’t even know if people are clear on the definition and what it means exactly.

      1. Angela, your comment reminded of this tweet from Michael Harriot. He wrote:

        “I’m not really concerned about the stupid backlash to CRT, “wokeness,” or reverse racism…

        I just find it interesting that their worst fear is the horrific possibility of innocent little white kids being subjected to THE EXACT SAME THING their schools do to Black kids every day”

  4. It’s blatantly a distraction, from things like voter suppression, and the right-wing media is all over it in collusion with the GOP. By the way, I recommend Dr. Traci Baxley (Social Justice Parenting) on this and related topics. She has a book coming out, and I’ll be buying it for help in how to teach our youngest, who is 8, about race and justice. Our kids have all gone to the same little school, which is Catholic and mostly Latinx (and so, therefore, are their friends), but it’s a different world now than when our teenagers were little. I feel like he needs to be taught these things younger instead of figuring them out with our guidance like the older ones did.

    1. Hey B, no, I don’t care even a little bit if people who believe Trump really won the election, selfishly refuse to get a vaccination, and deny that systemic racism exists, don’t read my blog.

      I’ve shared quite a few thoughts about my conservative followers if you’d like to learn more:

      The Consequences Of Your Actions.

      Conservatives, What Do You Want?

      How Do You Approach Forgiveness & Reconciliation?

      Justice Before Unity

      What are you trying to suggest? Do you believe I shouldn’t share my political opinions so that Republicans feel “safe” on Design Mom? Should I offer patience to people who insist there was widespread voting corruption when their own conservative researchers have concluded, over and over again, that there was not? Should I welcome the opinions of people who are doing everything they can to make sure it’s harder for People of Color to vote? If I say nazism is bad, do you believe I also need to share the thoughts of people who think nazism is good?

  5. From a Republican who doesn’t like Trump, is vaccinated, lives in an area where white students make up only a quarter of the student population, and tries to live a life judging people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin, I have to say you come across as the hater. You don’t know me.

    1. Truth. It comes off as sad and shallow. Politics and personal opinions exist in a spectrum; to judge others based on which side of neutral their beliefs lie, is making a huge assumption without knowing others. No person subscribes to every single thought contained within their political leaning. Take a moment to consider that some of us lean as we do because of the consequences of left leaning ideaology. #proudcubanamerican

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