Psaki: Teaching about systemic racism is 'responsible,' not 'indoctrination'

Psaki: Teaching about systemic racism is 'responsible,' not 'indoctrination'

White House press secretary Jen Psaki denied that the teaching of American colleges and universities amounted to ‘liberal indoctrination,’ arguing that teaching about systemic racism is “actually responsible.”  

“Senator Cotton says the nation’s wealthiest colleges are indoctrinating young people with what he calls un-American ideas. He’s proposing a new tax targeting the largest private endowments,” a reporter noted in the White House daily briefing. The tax would raise $2 billion per year and would be directed toward job training programs. 

 “Does the president believe that our largest, our wealthiest schools are indoctrinating our youth with an American idea? And would you support such a tax?” the reporter asked. 

Psaki asked what specific policies Cotton pointed to that amounted to indoctrination. The reporter said Cotton had been critical of the New York Times 1619 Project, critical race theory and claimed there was a liberal bias on campuses that targets conservative groups. 

“Well without much detail of where he thinks our youth are being indoctrinated, it sounds very mysterious and dangerous,” Psaki said. “I don’t think we would think we believe that educating the youth, next leaders of the future, leaders of the country, on systemic racism is indoctrination. That’s actually responsible.” 

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“But I would say if he’s trying to raise money for something, then our view is there’s lots of ways to do that. We know that a number of corporations hugely benefited financially during the pandemic. They could pay more taxes. We think the highest one percent of Americans can pay more taxes. And if he wants to have a conversation about worker training, we’d love to have him over and have that conversation,” the press secretary continued. 

Cotton, R-Ark., introduced the Ivory Tower Tax Act on Monday, a bill that would impose a one-percent tax on endowments from wealthy colleges and universities, and that money would be redirected to vocational training. The tax would apply to private colleges with more than 500 full-time students that “have endowments worth more than $2.5 billion and $500,000 per full-time enrolled student” and do not have a religious mission.

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“Our wealthiest colleges and universities have amassed billions of dollars, virtually tax-free, all while indoctrinating our youth with un-American ideas,” Cotton said in a release. 

A key tenet of critical race theory is the belief that systems and institutions are designed to uphold White supremacy and that White people enjoy certain privileges by virtue of their skin tone. Other arguments include that everyone holds some sort of implicit racial bias they must work to overcome. 

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States and schools across the nation have either leaned into or outright banned the academic movement towards critical race theory. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared that critical race theory would not be taught in the Sunshine State and the Tennessee General Assembly recently voted to advance a measure banning critical race theory from being taught.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt drew the ire of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education when he signed a law that essentially bans critical race teachings.