Critical race theory: a necessary debate in schools, or a generator of resentment?
Denver Post readers weigh in on critical race theory and other topics in this week's letters to the editor: "Us old white guys either need to get on board with that or just go out to pasture. History is on their side, not ours."
The effects of teaching critical race theory
Patty Limerick states that “Critical Race Theory asserts that the injustices built into this nation’s origins await a full reckoning in every sector of American Life.”
I believe her definition is correct however I don’t believe it removes any objections to the teaching of CRT because, as stated, it is the reason there is much opposition to CRT.
The full reckoning has already occurred over the last century and a half or so. Slavery was eliminated and laws were passed to eliminate unfair treatment and discrimination of minorities. Systematic racism is unlawful in this country and, in my opinion, does not exist because Black and Hispanic Americans are ubiquitous in valued and important positions in our society. They are in films and on television, work as news anchors and reporters, in federal and state government as elected and appointed officials, in professional and amateur sports, in TV ads — every aspect of our society.
There is nothing a minority individual in this country cannot attain with self-initiative and some good mentoring along the way from parents and school teachers.
If critical race theory were being taught in schools it would demean young white students who had nothing to do with past injustices as oppressors and demean young minority students by telling them they are oppressed individuals who can get anywhere if the oppressors don’t let them.
Why needlessly create resentment between young students who probably never realized there was a problem (and there isn’t)?
Steve Lloyd, Cheyenne
Fox News and groups who espouse unsubstantiated conspiracies have found a new target that they are using to stir up unneeded conflicts: critical race theory. Of course, they do not or cannot define what they mean by those three words, but their message is clear.
Their accusations include that critical race theory will make children hate our country, it is a left-wing strategy to destroy America, and public education is propagandizing that the U.S. is evil. It remains unclear how critical race theory will achieve those goals.
Several states have already enacted laws prohibiting teachers from teaching anything related to race relations. These actions are attempts to literally white-wash the history of our nation. The facts remain that this nation was built by the great hardships of many. Part of that history is the enslavement of our fellow man. Whites prospered because of enslavement. A shameful act! We should not feel ashamed, but we must acknowledge that these horrific events occurred.
There is no reason to shy away from our past — we must embrace it. All of us need to recognize atrocities were committed while our nation developed. By doing that, we can appreciate our nation becoming great by the contributions and sacrifices of our ancestors. We need to learn of these atrocities to avoid repeating them today or in the future.
Gary W. Johnson, Greeley
Even more puzzling, mystifying even, is why the Boulder Daily Camera and The Denver Post have dived so far off the left end of the pier, that it may be difficult to keep them from drowning. Why must any discussion of critical race theory spring from either the far right or the far left? What happened to objective rationality?
Viewing America and its history through the lens of racial identity is the exact opposite of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream. He wanted all of us to be judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin. Critical race theory is about race, not character.
Of course American students should be taught about the evils of slavery. But race and slavery are not the sine qua nons of this nation. The earthshaking idea of America — as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of rights, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution — is more important than slavery, which was expunged more than 150 years ago.
What will critical race theory teach our children about the hundreds of thousands of young, mostly white, Union soldiers who died to free the slaves? Not to mention the millions more who were broken in body and spirit — crippled, maimed, blinded, and disfigured. What will it teach about the American president who was murdered for signing the Emancipation Proclamation and for defeating slavery and the South in the Civil War?
Richard Stacy, Highlands Ranch
That genie is out of the bottle and ain’t going back, Rep. Ken Buck. I’ve learned more about racial issues from the junior high students I’ve encountered while judging National History Day projects the last few years than I did in the entirety of my education. Us old white guys either need to get on board with that or just go out to pasture. History is on their side, not ours.
Greg Albrecht, Aurora
In defense of the “Accidental Senator”
Because of his (rare) ability to get Republicans elected to office in Colorado, his authoritative command of the state’s political history and his insight, Dick Wadhams’ Sunday columns in The Post are a must-read in my mind.
However, his lament over the success of Sen. Michael Bennet seeks to tar our senior senator with the suspicions stemming from the unproven and as-of-yet not fully investigated allegations of a Denver school board member who happens to be registered in the same political party as Bennet.
I, for one, am happy the senator is silent on the investigation of charges of sexual misconduct against Tay Anderson. I would suggest that anyone who doesn’t have knowledge that could contribute to finding the truth in the matter remain silent until sufficient facts are made public to make a judgment.
Wadhams correctly attributes Bennet’s electoral success to the ineptitude of Colorado Republicans (I was one but left behind party affiliation years ago) and to a measure of good luck. What Wadhams left out was the senator’s unfailing ear for his constituents and their policy preferences — something Wadhams’ party has neglected for years.
Luke Clarke, Golden
I’m a trained economist and economic development professional with more than 10 years teaching economics and sustainable economic development.
While The Post needs divergent views, Wadhams’ column demonstrated a profound ignorance of economics and policies that, for me, means I can’t believe anything he says.
He alluded to President Joe Biden’s failed economic policies.
The problem is that we won’t know about the results from Biden’s economic policies for a couple years or more. This was basic economics training of the 1970s — the challenge of using Keynesian stimulus was that by the time it actually had an effect, at least a couple years would have passed and the problem was in the past.
I hope you can find someone credible, and truthful, to represent conservative views. And remember that “conservative” means risk-minimizing. People who deny climate change or other 21st century problems aren’t risk-minimizing; they are risk-maximizing, thinking some miracle solution will show, which becomes increasingly unlikely every year.
Christopher Juniper, Denver
CU, CSU staff deserves more
It is sad that the editorial board is advocating financial repercussions for a group of workers rather than for greater state funding for higher education, where Colorado ranks amongst the lowest of all states. Also, what institution or business succeeds by taking a “morale be damned” approach?
Kip Findley, Arvada
The editorial raises the critical point that the cost of post-secondary education is too high. Attending college should not put anyone in decades of debt. But I think the editorial board presents a false equivalency between the 3% rise in tuition at the University of Colorado and a 3% raise — not just for faculty but campus staff as well. Many workers at CU have experienced layoffs, furloughs, and budget cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The top 1% of CU employees make as much as the lowest 14.2% combined (see the United Campus Workers Colorado’s report).
Perhaps Mark Kennedy’s $1.3 million departure deal or portions of other administrators’ salaries could have mitigated the need for a tuition increase.
Rather than place the burden of funding our public universities on students through tuition or underpaying the workers who make our universities function, we need robust financial support from the state as well as a commitment from our universities to craft yearly budgets that do justice to students, faculty, and staff — not just administrators’ bank accounts.
Julia Kendrick, Boulder
Freight trains deliver for Colo.
A column in The Post late last year about building high-speed passenger rail in Colorado quoted U.S. High-Speed Rail Association CEO Andy Kunz as saying that it “takes visionary leadership and a real commitment to create a great rail system. It does cost more to do it right, but that’s what should be done.”
He was right. It is just this approach that has given us the greatest freight rail system in the world. Passenger advocates could learn from the freight rail experience. The same goes for Congress and the Biden administration.
While the benefits of high-speed passenger rail are prospective, freight rail already delivers for Coloradans. It would have taken an additional 7.7 million trucks to carry the 138.9 million tons of freight that Colorado railroads moved in 2019, according to the Association of American Railroads. Moving this freight by rail cuts greenhouse gas emissions significantly.
Since 1980, railroads have churned over $740 billion of their own money back into the nationwide freight rail network. This makes it possible for a single train to carry several hundred truckloads, easing the burden on overcrowded highways — and on the taxpayers who pay for them.
Sen. John Hickenlooper serves on one of the congressional committees debating infrastructure legislation this month. Hopefully, lawmakers will take note of the freight railroads’ example of covering their own costs and supporting local businesses while also reducing emissions and alleviating highway congestion.
Emily Traiforos, Washington, D.C.
Editor’s note: Traiforos is a multi-state director for GoRail, whose territory includes Colorado. GoRail is a nonprofit organization that promotes the public benefits of freight rail.
Immigrants ready to work
I commend the authors for speaking out as medical professionals in support of the statewide Immigration Legal Defense Fund recently approved by Colorado’s legislature. Health care is a basic yet critical resource that should be readily available to all Coloradans, including immigrants of all statuses, and the new fund will help facilitate more access.
Importantly, immigrants also deserve better representation among the professional workforce of physicians. Hundreds of international medical graduates (IMGs) in our state are equipped with extensive medical training and experience and are eager to establish commensurate careers in the U.S., but inequitable access to the relicensure pathway prevents staggering numbers of the graduates from qualifying for licenses. For those who are successful in getting their career on track, Colorado continues to lose talent to out-of-state positions despite our own rural and primary-care physician shortages. According to the National Residency Matching Program, only 2.5% of Colorado’s medical residency positions were filled by IMGs over the past decade. This is not because IMGs lack competence or training; but rather, they are pit against a system that unfairly discounts international experience.
Spring Institute and a consortium of partners and allies, including Gov. Jared Polis, are supportive of welcoming our immigrant neighbors and creating credentialing pathways that recognize the considerable expertise of all Coloradans, including new Americans. Dismantling barriers and identifying solutions for IMGs as professionals entering our health care system will help make it truly more accessible for all.
Carrie Miller, Denver
Editor’s note: Miller is program manager for Colorado Welcome Back by Spring Institute.
Investigation into airport CEO raises questions
Key questions come to mind regarding the appointment of Phil Washington as CEO of the Denver International Airport. Was there a public, extensive, advertised search to fill this position? If there was a nationwide search at any comparable airport for a CEO would Washington be on the short list for further evaluation?
Washington has admitted his current experience is not directly related to airport management, yet he feels he is qualified. By whose standards? This raised a few eyebrows, many of whom do have an idea of the challenges facing airport CEO. Washington is the mayor’s choice, and it is our mayor’s right to defend his choice, however, if his choice struggles to bear up under simple scrutiny, then Washington may simply be the wrong person for this highly-paid, high profile job.
Will the city council vote against the wishes of Mayor Michael Hancock? When public scrutiny of qualifications of the potential CEO of a huge income-generator and taxpayer-funded entity only happens at the final approval level, then something is very wrong with this picture. Mayor Hancock appears to have forgotten who he is working for; I urge the council not to approve the appointment, and to require a transparent public search for the position.
Linda Purcell, Denver
Support teachers; don’t test them
Re: “State adopts more rigorous reading test,” June 12 news story
At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, Colorado needed to fill around 8,000 teaching positions. Our average teacher salary is below the national average despite the high cost of living in Colorado, and teachers usually end up providing supplies for their classroom out of their own meager pocket. Teachers too often leave the profession within five years.
Now, the State Board of Education is placing one more financial burden on potential teachers by requiring an additional test before they get their license. Understandably, we need to do a better job of teaching children to read. But placing the burden on teachers to gain those skills on their own dime and then charging them to prove it drives one more wedge in the state’s ability to get and to retain teachers.
Colorado has been demanding a Cadillac quality of education from teachers and schools for decades while providing a Pinto budget. The legislature is finally making some moves to correct that, but we have a long way to go to get us from below the national average for per pupil expenditures. This is unconscionable for a state as wealthy as Colorado. Let the state pay for additional mentors to improve reading instruction. It would be more effective to provide in-classroom training anyway.
Sally Augden, Denver
Bring back law and order
Sheriff Joe Pelle:
Why are the jails in Boulder County not open at maximum capacity? I understand you may feel COVID is still too big a threat.
Do you as sheriff not understand that many organizations and businesses had to soldier on during the pandemic, such as hospitals and grocery stores? Please take care of the residents of Boulder County.
Or, do you actually support the concepts behind the shameful and failed Senate Bills 273 and 62 and want fewer incarcerations? If so, simply come forward and admit it. Come clean about why we must live with the awful reality of criminals roving among us with paper citations, which many freely disregard.
As for how most people are feeling about crime, please read the posts on Nextdoor. Do you know you have mothers chasing bike thieves because calling the police is futile due to the catch-and-release practices for property crimes? Do you realize how weary the people of Boulder are of hearing about escalating property crimes?
Many elected officials imply that property crimes are not worthy of incarceration. Residents and victims disagree. We see the chop shops flourishing in Boulder, many adjacent to civic areas that are now unusable due to the squalor and criminality.
How do you think people feel knowing it is open season on their homes and property? Are you waiting for a violent altercation with someone of importance to do your job or take up your sworn responsibilities? Are we on our own?
Kathryn Lehr, Boulder County
Before you sign that petition …
Registered voters being asked to sign a petition isn’t anything new in Denver, but the person collecting signatures last Saturday was not telling the truth when questioned about the conservation easement petition. Because I know about the Park Hill Golf course’s recent history, I realized the signature gatherer was spinning a web of falsehoods that were quite astonishing and as dishonest as it gets.
The first fabrication was that neighbors around the course “voted” for its massive redevelopment, which they didn’t since, being from the area, it was news to me. Then they doubled down on the next fairytale, asking if I remembered the construction there recently and claiming it was the developer who had just started getting it underway when the city halted construction. But in fact it was the Denver drainage project that had recently started and finished.
The petition that many were putting pen to paper without asking what I did, was presented as a grassroots initiative to let neighborhoods, not the City/County of Denver, have the last word on development. Yet in reality, it’s a bait and switch, since the land is under a conservation easement that, for now, is saving the last bit of open space in the heart of the city.
Denver is losing the fight with developers who’ll do almost anything, including falsely claiming that neighborhoods will get the last word on what goes up around them. We should at least make those paying to get on a ballot this November be honest with voters about what the petition will do.
Richard L Mattingly, Denver
Toss the filibuster out
Re: “GOP halts Democrats’ signature voting bill,” June 23 new story
No debate! The U.S. Senate used to be “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” No more. Sen. Mitch McConnell sacrificed the power of open debate to his mania for personal power. Yesterday he led all 50 Senate Republicans to defeat a cloture vote which would have let the Senate debate S.1. Instead of an open debate, which may have yielded a better bill, McConnell stopped it with a filibuster. Not in the Constitution, and not a law, just a dysfunctional Senate rule. We want debate, not filibuster.
Jim Engelking, Golden
Tuesday, in the Senate, the right to vote has been wronged.
David L. Stevenson, Denver
Democrats need to end the filibuster now — not reform, not negotiating with Republicans who end up voting “no” on the bills they just watered down. Sen. Chuck Schumer needs to take control. He’s letting Sen. Mitch McConnell control the Senate. If senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema want to vote against a strong For the People act, they can vote on the floor then explain why they let it fail.
We need big money out of politics. Rumor has it (in other words, the people have figured out) that donations from corporations, banking, defense contractors, hedge funds, and oligarchs amount to bribery. It happens on both sides of the aisle. Manchin wants to take out exposing dark money and campaign finance reform. Those need to stay in. Wouldn’t we rather have our members of Congress work on legislation and help their constituents rather than dialing for dollars for hours every week?
We will get nothing accomplished until we end minority rule via the filibuster.
Linda Servey, Aurora
Consequences to taking a life
Re: “Life in prison also takes a life,” June 19 letter to the editor
I can’t disagree more with the letter writer’s assertions. Anyone who is willing to go into a school with the intent to murder however many people they can has no place in society. By perpetrating their attack, they showed that they are already lost, and putting them in prison for life (whether that ends up happening or not) is no loss at all. I sleep better knowing that two such maniacs are behind bars where they can’t hurt any more children.
The letter writer also points out that the life sentences put a drain on society through the costly prison system, but that could easily be solved by bringing back the death penalty. Obviously these two have no regard for human life, so they shouldn’t care if their lives are forfeit.
Kurt Williams, Aurora
Washington has the experience
Mayor Michael Hancock’s choice of Phil Washington to serve as Denver International Airport CEO is a sound decision despite the momentary gray cloud.
Washington soaked up a lot of knowledge and experience by being CEO of the Los Angeles County transit authority. Washington was exposed to and familiar with the workings, problems, and solutions of more than 10 million people, 88 cities, Los Angeles International Airport, Hollywood-Burbank Airport, Van Nuys Airport, Santa Monica Airport, Ontario Airport, Pacoima Airport and Long Beach Airport.
His appearance before the Denver City Council and the public will be an edifying experience that will dispel any doubts or risks.
He’s got a job to do at DIA, so let him do it!
Emzy Veazy III, Aspen
So the Story goes?
Sports columnist Mark Kiszla tries to make the case that the Rockies should trade Trevor Story now, purportedly while he has some trade value.
What’s the point? It doesn’t matter who the Rockies get in return if every time a player develops into a productive asset, the team decides that they cannot afford to keep him. DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, now Story — how do you build a team by getting rid of your best players?
Richard Mignogna, Golden
Baker unfairly targeted
The article was unfair in its description of cake artist Jack Phillips. He is described as “America’s most famous anti-LGBTQ cakemaker.” Phillips has been targeted and hounded multiple times by progressive activists who themselves lacked tolerance for his religious beliefs.
The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop will always politely decline to make a cake that celebrates gay marriage. More recently, he was asked to make a gender transition cake by yet another activist looking to make his life difficult. The poor man just wants to be left alone to bake and worship as he sees fit, but he is repeatedly thrust into the national spotlight against his wishes.
Phillips is a socially conservative Christian who even declines (again, politely) to make Halloween cakes. While straight, I do love Halloween and celebrating it with appropriately festive accompanying baked goods.
However, knowing that pastry artist Jack Phillips does not wish to make cakes celebrating a pseudo-pagan holiday like Halloween, I would just order a cake from the many other bakeries in Arapahoe county.
Numerous businesses would be thrilled to make a gender transition cake, a gay wedding cake, or an erotic cake for special occasions.
Why not support one of them, instead of dragging Phillips back into court?
An Uber-liberal might wish to decline a commission to paint a portrait celebrating former President Donald Trump and his Make America Great movement.
Tolerance has to work both ways, or else it is merely one side forced into capitulation.
Garrett Wroblewski, Aurora
Summit conferees harassed
I participated in a panel at Western Conservative Summit on June 18. As I left the Hyatt Regency about 6:45 p.m., I saw someone from the “Denver Communists” holding a sign accusing the conferees of being “Nazis.” I was troubled but thought little of it.
Later, I find that a group of malcontents later accosted people they took to be involved with the event, threw things, yelled slogans into megaphones, blocked traffic, and generally disturbed the peace.
This is not deliberative democracy. This is the ugly voice of the malevolent mob. The First Amendment gives Americans the right to “peaceably assemble,” not to riot.
The voices inside the summit were
peacefully presenting their views on culture and politics. Those outside did not rise to that level.
Douglas Groothuis, Highlands Ranch
Bishops should focus on sin
Re: “Pope’s silence speaks volumes on controversial Communion vote by U.S. bishops,” June 20 news story
The report that Pope Francis had nothing to say about the vote by members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to draft a document regarding reception of the Eucharist displays extreme papal irresponsibility. Teaching on this issue hearkens back centuries in the Church and should be supported by all Catholics, especially the pope.
According to the report, the American bishops have disregarded “years of the pope’s pleas to de-emphasize culture war issues and expand the scope of its mission to climate change, migration and poverty.” The bishops are tasked with teaching Catholics the precepts of the Church, as Jesus taught His Apostles, leading to eternal life.
I simply cannot imagine Jesus instructing the Apostles to focus on issues other than sinful behavior, since He gave His life for the forgiveness of our sins. It means that we must do our best to uphold moral teaching in the culture in which we live. Jesus calls us to transform the world around us.
I don’t think that a “new” guidance on receiving the Eucharist gives “conservatives” hope to deny Communion to President Joe Biden for his support of abortion rights. Nobody wants Biden to be denied the Eucharist, but if he, and others, continue to publicly support immoral practices, he, and they, effectively ex-communicate themselves by rejecting Church teaching. There are no “conservative” or “liberal” Catholics. Those who believe in Church teaching are Catholic. Those who don’t believe in Church teaching are not Catholic. It really is that simple.
Donna Jorgenson Farrell, Broomfield
Stop calling it gun violence
This week, people in Aurora were killed and wounded during a shooting at a very late Juneteenth parking lot party. Also, a police officer was killed by a man who apparently despised police. And all the reporting and all the reporters keep saying the same thing: gun violence, gun violence, gun violence.
Let me pose a question: When someone stabs a number of people, do you speak of knife violence? When a drunk picks a fight in a bar, is that fist violence? When a criminal drives into a crowd and kills and injures people, do you call it car violence? And do you focus on the make, model, year, engine size, and type of transmission of the vehicle, and visit the dealership where it was purchased?
I’m really getting sick and tired of seeing this ridiculous bias continue to be shown, in an ongoing attempt to influence government toward harming law-abiding people’s right to defend themselves against criminal behavior (the root cause). Maybe that’s actually word violence.
Jim Kiel, Aurora
Say no to all discrimination
When Black people had to ride at the back of the bus in the Jim Crow South and give up their seats upon demand by a white person, the bus company was asserting the superiority of white people over black people, with full state authority. Likewise, when Black people had to use stand-up lunch counters, instead of tables and seats, at diners. When restaurants in the Southwest, prior to the civil rights laws, posted signs reading “No dogs or Mexicans allowed,” they were asserting white superiority over Hispanics, with full state authority.
Few people today would say religious liberty would excuse racial discrimination. However, when Jack Phillips refuses to sell any custom wedding cake to gay couples, or to sell pink-and-blue cakes to transgender people, contrary to Colorado law, he is asserting his moral superiority over LGBT people. With the help of conservative Christian organizations, he wants the Supreme Court of the United States to give full state approval in the name of religious freedom.
To those who say LGBT people can choose a different bakery, I say, Rosa Parks didn’t have to use the bus, she could have hired a black-owned taxi. And Black people should have made their own lunches. There is no difference.
Peter Gross, Englewood