Barth Keck: Critical Race Theory Is Our Modern-Day Crucible
English teacher Barth Keck takes a look at the parallels between Arthur Miler’s classic play and the current culture wars.
e burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment,” says Deputy Governor Danforth, the man who oversees the Salem witch trials in Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible.”
Mr. Danforth is, in a word, uncompromising in his mission to prosecute accused witches. His view of the world contains no uncertainty:
“But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time – we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world.”
It was Danforth’s arrogant self-assurance that struck a chord with me while we read “The Crucible” in my 11th grade English class this fall. It reminded me of what was happening in nearby Guilford.
Over the summer, a slate of five alternative candidates won the Republican primary for the school board’s open positions. Their goal was to rid Guilford schools of Critical Race Theory (CRT), a framework that critics have termed an “anti-white, radical leftist agenda [that] is being used by public schools to indoctrinate students.”
The CT Examiner reported that Danielle Scarpellino, one of the GOP candidates, said in her nominating speech “that she felt the current Board of Education had shown an ‘inability to oversee our superintendent Paul Freeman’ and said that she would ‘ensure that [the children’s] education is free from all indoctrination.’”
Curiously, the new slate of GOP candidates offered no tangible evidence that Critical Race Theory – originally developed for law students in the 1970s – is employed in Guilford schools. Ambiguous anecdotes and innuendo were offered, but any connections to CRT were tangential, at best. Indeed, the charges were not unlike the “spectral evidence” that led to the hanging of accused witches in Salem.
“At a certain point, the high court of the province made the fatal decision to admit, for the first time, the use of ‘spectral evidence’ as proof of guilt,” explained playwright Miller. “Spectral evidence, so aptly named, meant that if I swore that you had sent out your ‘familiar spirit’ to choke, tickle, or poison me or my cattle, or to control my thoughts and actions, I could get you hanged unless you confessed to having had contact with the Devil.”