CNN political commentator Van Jones claimed Tuesday that concern over critical race theory (CRT) being taught in schools amounted to racial “dog whistling” as he implored Democrats to come up with “better answers” on the issue by next year’s midterm elections.
During CNN’s election night coverage of Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial election, Jones sounded the alarm over what the results foreshadowed for 2022 as he declared them a “big, big wake-up call for Democrats.”
Host Anderson Cooper noted to Jones during the coverage that President Biden ran for the White House as a moderate Democrat and not as a progressive pushing extreme policies, such as defunding the police.
“I think Biden’s troubles are bigger than this particular issue, and I think that, you know, the Democratic Party, I mean, everybody that I’m talking to tonight, they’re saying this is a big, big wake-up call,” Jones said. “I think people took Virginia for granted.”
He added that there was an “intensity gap” between Youngkin’s message that the rights of parents in having a say in their child’s education were under threat and Democrats’ message that former President Trump was bad and vaccine mandates were good.
“And so as you begin to think what are we going to do, you’ve got to be able to respond to what I think is dog whistling on education. I think all the CRT stuff is trumped-up dog-whistling, but you’ve got to be able to respond to it,” Jones said. “And I also think that, listen, crime, inflation and concerns about our kids – Democrats have got to have better answers next year than we had this year.”
The debate over CRT became a major talking point for both sides throughout the Virginia race, with McAuliffe referring to the fight against it as a “racist dog whistle” and claiming it had “never been taught” in Virginia schools, while Youngkin vowed to ban the ideology if he was elected.
A number of media outlets and pundits pushed McAuliffe’s questionable claim that CRT wasn’t taught in schools, including a CNN reporter who repeated it even after Youngkin delivered his victory speech without mentioning the controversial issue.
Despite the claim, there have been a number of well-documented instances of CRT’s promotion by officials within the Virginia Department of Education.