Center for Political Awareness

Christopher Rufo Launched the Critical Race Theory (CRT) Panic. He Isn’t Done.

Find out more about Christopher Rufo the mastermind behind the event, titled “The ABCs of Critical Race Theory & More." Rufo came to prominence for instigating the moral panic over CRT in public education. (Click image for article.)

On a rainy day in late March, a group of American and European public intellectuals gathered in a stone-clad villa in Budapest’s Castle District. They’d been invited by the Danube Institute, a conservative think tank backed by the Hungarian government, to denounce growing threats from the left. The institute’s president, John O’Sullivan, a British octogenarian and former editor of National Review, summarized the challenge—gender theory, recognition of a climate emergency, critical race theory—in one all-purpose expression: “wokeness.”

The mastermind behind the event, titled “The ABCs of Critical Race Theory & More,” was American activist Christopher Rufo, who came to prominence for instigating the moral panic over CRT in public education—a move that, O’Sullivan noted approvingly in his introduction, “provoked a popular resistance of parents.” Rufo had recently arrived for a monthlong visiting fellowship with the institute, an incubator for US ideologues who consider Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s brand of nationalist populism—particularly Orbán’s muscular use of state power—as a model to be replicated. Orbán’s “illiberal democracy” has subjugated the independent press, banned LGBTQ content from schools, ended gender studies in universities, and evicted the Central European University from Hungary. This last effort had the dual benefit of exiling a global postcommunist bastion of liberal values, social sciences, and humanities while eradicating the influence of its founder, Hungarian-born philanthropist George Soros, whose extensive financial investments in upholding democratic institutions throughout former communist countries have been demonized, often in blatantly antisemitic ways, by the right in both nations. (In an interview, O’Sullivan defended the institute. “We are not doing anything mysterious,” he said, describing its mission as to “encourage the transmission of ideas” and “democratic debate.”)…

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