The War on Critical Race theory
According to the right, a specter is haunting the United States: the specter of critical race theory (CRT).
On the eve of losing the presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order in September banning “diversity and race sensitivity training” in government agencies, including all government “spending related to any training on critical race theory.” He was prompted, apparently, by hearing an interview with conservative activist Christopher Rufo on Fox News characterizing “critical race theory programs in government” as “the cult of indoctrination.” (President Biden ended the ban as soon as he took office.) In March Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, introduced a bill seeking to ban the teaching of CRT in the military because—he charges without argument or evidence—it is “racist.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banned CRT from being covered in Florida’s public schools for “teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other.”
Republican majority lawmakers in the state of Idaho prohibited the use of state funding for student “social justice” activities of any kind at public universities and threatened to withhold funding earmarked for “social justice programming and critical race theory.” Lawmakers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Utah are following suit.
China on the horizon as ‘world’s pharmacy
The World Health Organisation’s approval Friday for China’s COVID-19 vaccine known as Sinopharm dramatically transforms the ecosystem of the pandemic. In immediate terms, this has potential to boost global vaccine supply, as China’s overall yearly production capacity is approaching five billion doses.
The western pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly has been breached, as Sinopharm’s is the first COVID-19 vaccine developed by a developing country to be validated by the WHO and only the sixth approved for emergency use globally–in fact, the only non-western vaccine so far. Literally, China has gatecrashed the aggressively-guarded orchard of powerful western pharmaceutical companies. In practical terms, the WHO approval allows China to enter the portals of the COVAX as a qualified supplier.
Why Brazil Still Matters
While many in the West lamented Jair Bolsonaro’s stunning ascension to the presidency of the world’s fifth most populous country in 2018, the election outcome was sealed roughly a year earlier. That was when Brazil’s two-term center-left president, Lula da Silva, who had been legally barred from a third consecutive term in 2010 despite an 86 percent approval rating—and who was leading in all the polls for a comeback in the 2018 presidential race—was convicted on dubious corruption charges and then declared ineligible to run. With his primary obstacle out of the way, Bolsonaro cruised to victory.
The stench of those events intensified greatly when Bolsonaro appointed the judge who’d found Lula guilty, Sergio Moro, to the newly enhanced position of minister of justice and public security. Even Moro’s closest allies in the sprawling anti-corruption probe known as Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato in Portuguese) were outraged by this blatant quid pro quo, which they realized would forever tarnish their legacy.
A second cold war is tracking the first
In Washington, Beijing and Moscow, officials all say that they want to avoid a new cold war. A recent piece in the New York Times suggests they have little reason for concern. It argued that “superpower rivalries today bear little resemblance to the past”. The article pointed to Russia’s relative weakness and China’s technological prowess to underline how things have changed since the late 1940s.
Those differences exist, of course. But to me, the parallels between today’s events and the early years of the cold war look increasingly convincing, even eerie.