Culture Wars/Current Controversies

How Chris Rufo Became the Thing He Hates

His panicked manifesto contains a strong case against CRT activism, but he ultimately falls into the same trap as his enemies.


Christopher Rufo wants you to be afraid. A sinister woke ideology, promoted by a shadowy cabal, is infiltrating America’s treasured institutions, from your childrens’ classrooms to the corporate boardroom. Far-left activists have weaponized anti-racism to capture the commanding heights of politics and culture, thus “effectuating a wholesale moral reversal” under the banner of “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

It is a testament to Rufo’s marketing talent that his complaints feel entirely mundane at this point in the culture war. Prior to Rufo, critical race theory, or CRT, had been an obscure school of legal thought relegated to a few radical law school departments. The proposition that CRT would become a lynchpin of American political discourse in the early 2020s would once have been laughable, but it became deadly serious when Rufo went on Tucker Carlson’s cable news show in the summer of 2020.

There, Rufo blamed critical race theory for the post–George Floyd eruption of civil rights protests. That caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who promptly penned an executive order prohibiting CRT from being used in the federal government’s training seminars and materials. Rufo has since been appointed by Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Ron DeSantis to the board of trustees at New College of Florida, where Rufo has spearheaded a purge of left-wing professors.


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