Sen. James Lankford said Thursday he's "relieved" that his home state of Oklahoma has banned the teaching of critical race theory in its schools, telling Newsmax that he just wants "everyone to be treated the same."
"We knew common sense was out there, but it's good to be able to hear so many parents and so many individuals stepping up and saying, I just want everyone to be treated the same," the Oklahoma Republican said on Newsmax's "Greg Kelly Reports." "I'm not wanting special privileges for anyone not asking for anything. I'm asking for everyone to be treated equally in the process."
A bill signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt in recent weeks bans lessons including the concept that "one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex," that a person's "moral character is inherently determined by his or her race or sex," and that a person should feel discomfort, guilt, or distress on account of their race or sex, reports NPR.
"As my friend (Sen.) Tim Scott said, to say one group is inferior, and another group is an impresser [oppressor], both of those terms are actually demeaning terms, and we just don't have any place for that in America," Lankford said. "So just as a simple fact to be able to say what my state has done to say, we're not going to teach critical race theory in our schools. We're going to treat everyone equally shouldn't be a shocking issue. It's great to see so many parents and others speaking out in a great way."
Critical race theory is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as the concept in which race is a socially constructed category ingrained in American law intended to maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. It holds that the U.S. society is inherently or systemically racist.
Lankford pointed out that the Oklahoma legislation was on the state level, so he wasn't involved in passing the new law, but said critical law theory "made it very clear with that process they were trying to ban the teaching of slavery. The teaching of Jim Crow laws. We should teach our history. We should have great conversation about our history and be able to talk about what we've come from. That helps point us towards what we're headed to."
Critical race theory, though, "seeks to demolish our history and to be able to rewrite everything and to be able to label current people as personally responsible for something that happened 200, 400, 100 years ago," said Lankford. "We learned from our history, but we don't impose on people of current-day actions from our history."
Lankford also praised the efforts of parents who are speaking out against critical race theory being taught in their children's schools.
"It's terrific to be able to watch because they're actually (saying) don't put my child down. Please don't put my child in a box," said Lankford. "Let's try to get past looking at skin color and make sure that everyone is treated with equal opportunity. Critical race theory pulls it up and says everything's oppressive. Everything systemic racism, everything is wrong and we identify people solely based on their skin color."
Lankford also spoke about his questioning of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra that occurred earlier in the day during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget, which has language that drops the word motherhood in favor of "birthing people."
"I can't even begin to process have bizarre that really is and how insulting that is," said Lankford. "Becerra went on to say, well, it's a function. We're describing people by function. Well, hello, your that's a woman. That's a mother, not a birthing person. That's demeaning. And I would tell you all the moms that work in my office. Uh, they were stunned by it and completely offended by just the most basic statement, and just let someone be called the mom."
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