Campus Reform | CRT bans remind UF prof of Nazi 'thought control' tactics

CRT bans remind UF prof of Nazi 'thought control' tactics

A professor emeritus at the University of Florida wrote an opinion piece in a local newspaper criticizing the latest bans on Critical Race Theory.

He wrote that these bans are an attempt 'to rewrite a historical narrative,' though the stated aim of CRT is to advance revisionist history.

In a recent op-ed for the Gainesville Sun, René Lemarchand, a former professor of political science at the University of Florida, compared Critical Race Theory bans to ignoring “the internment of tens of thousands of American-born Japanese Americans during World War II.”

The former professor also wrote that banning CRT would be similar to remaining “silent about the circumstances and human costs of the Tulsa massacre in 1921 lest it hurts the sensibilities of a white audience.”

He then compared efforts to ban Critical Race Theory to various global events.

Lemarchand said that during the Rwanda genocide, President Paul Kagame took “the drastic step of eliminating all references to Hutu and Tutsi.” 

“This is, of course, a far cry from the memory laws proscribing the infliction of emotional discomfort on account of people’ race or sex,” Lemarchand said. “But the underlying logic is the same.”

[RELATED: Florida education board to ban CRT, with support from Gov. DeSantis and opposition from professors]

Lemarchand also said the bans reminded him of “thought control” tactics used by European dictatorships, “including France under Vichy, in the wake of the Nazi occupation.”

Furthermore, Lemarchand stated that he “never imagined that a methodology based on the capacity to turn a critical eye on the contents of teaching materials would mutate a century later into GOP-sponsored memory laws designed to direct, shape, and control the teaching of history in the public schools of a number of American states.”

As argued in the book "Critical Race Theory: An Introduction," revisionist history is the stated goal of Critical Race Theory. 

Written by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, "Critical Race Theory" highlights four key themes of Critical Race Theory, one being “revisionist interpretations of history.”

In a section titled “Revisionist History,” Delgado and Stefancic write that “revisionist history reexamines America’s historical record, replacing comforting majoritarian interpretations of events with ones that square more accurately with minorities experiences.”

[RELATED: Fla. Gov. DeSantis, Fmr. Sec. Summers represent bipartisan support for more free speech on campus]

Lemarchand said that “engaging in a constructive academic debate under such circumstances is difficult to imagine” and that in order to “do justice to the conflicts and contradictions inherited from our past as a slave-owning society,” we must admit “our collective guilt as whites.”

“The risks involved in the application of Republican-inspired memory laws goes beyond the closing of the American mind; it also threatens to obstruct our paths to democracy,” Lemarchand said. 

Lemarchand taught political science and African studies at the University of Florida and served as the first Director for the Center of African Studies. He retired from UF in 1994 and served as a visiting lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, Smith College, Brown University, Concordia University in Montreal, and in Europe at the universities of Helsinki, Bordeaux, Copenhagen and Antwerp from 1998 to 2004. 

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Florida to get in contact with Lemarchand but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @opheliejacobson