Defense against the Dark Arts: Academic Freedom Meets the Antiwoke Crusade

By Richard Hanley


An “antiwoke crusade” (AWC) is being waged in Republican-led states across the United States. The AWC’s attack on critical race theory (CRT) fits Stanley Cohen’s definition of a moral panic, as I demonstrate by focusing on the role of “socially accredited experts” in promulgating “horror stories” about CRT. I defend CRT’s core claim of systemic racism—at least on an outcomes reading. I conclude on a somewhat pessimistic note for education, since a college classroom is not a “marketplace of ideas,” and educators should not use their academic freedom to resort to the same manipulative tactics as their ideological opponents.

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