I’m calling it the Chris Rufo Theory from now on

Chris Rufo is a sad little man, and I almost feel sorry for him. He is the primary person responsible for triggering the nationwide moral panic over Critical Race Theory; he’s the one who handed the far right an egregious misinterpretation of the idea, shaping it into a meaningless punching bag for conservative resentment. Now he’s getting his moment in the sun, and we all get to see how feeble his idea is. He got eviscerated by Joy Reid. From the very first question she asks he is found wanting.

“Are you an expert in race or racial theory, are you a lawyer, a legal scholar, is that part of your background?”

Yeah, I’m a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, I’m running their initiative on Critical Race Theory.

Uh, what? The Manhattan Institute is a conservative think-tank dedicated to promoting capitalism and free market economics. Former members include George Gilder (who also co-founded the Discovery Institute) and Charles Murray. One of its big policy successes was pushing broken-windows policing, that terrible flop of an idea that only succeeded in increasing police power.

Rufo is, or was, a documentary film maker, and a research fellow at the Discovery Institute. There is absolutely nothing in his background that qualifies him in the slightest way to be an expert in race or the law. He should have said “No” in answer to that question.

But that’s OK, because Reid then exposes his ignorance repeatedly. She is amusingly vicious with a smile as she points out that nothing he claims is part of Critical Race Theory actually is, and wickedly uses his own words against him. His version of CRT is just a propaganda tool, a grab bag of lies and nonsense that he claims are all part of the theory; as he himself says, The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ I like that she also does not let him use this interview to vomit up nonstop lies without pushback, something I’ve missed from too many journalists in the last few decades. A good interviewer is not a stenographer who is providing a platform for the interviewee.

Watch the whole thing.

One lasting contribution is that I’ll never again think of the right-wing spin on CRT as Critical Race Theory. It’s all really Chris Rufo Theory.


  1. snarkrates says

    The real reason the Rethugs oppose critical race theory is that they have their own theory: Hypocritical Race Theory.

  2. drew says

    It doesn’t matter if they’re exposed as idiots. The exposure to “the other side” weakens CRT. Other-siding (and acceptance of it) is a sign of willingness to treat it as a culture war issue. And libruls hating the criticism just makes half the country dig in and deny CRT. Joy-Ann Reid is playing their game by having this joker on her show.

    This actually serves the same kind of purpose as all the atheist vs theist debates where bizarre claims are given even footing with reality. It spotlights the ridiculous claims and, to a casual viewer, turns it into a sporting event where everyone picks one of two teams. And I would not be at all surprised if her corporate sponsors knew that and were happily muddying the water to retain their power, power another word for inequity.

  3. says

    One thing Chris Rufo is good at: talking over and talking around the interviewer. Then he claims that it is the interviewer’s fault because she won’t let him spew his talking points when he is actually refusing to answer the questions.

    Joy Reid does reveal Chris Rufo for what he is, but it takes a sustained effort to do so.

  4. dstatton says

    OK, she didn’t have the nerve to have him on. After this he will not come back because she was unfair. Sound familiar?

  5. unclefrogy says

    it is hard to listen to people like that without getting pissed off. the speed that the practiced responses keep coming is maddening.
    all the lines are already well rehearsed and they just start in just like every other creationist and true believer out there.
    they just open their mouth and dump the BS out none stop. never listening or engaging with anyone just beating them down with their BS word spew.