Ted Cruz is many things: a bit of a Karen, possibly the Zodiac Killer, and definitely not the guy you call for help in a winter storm because he’ll probably be in Cancún. We can now add modern-day McCarthyite to the list after he spent the second full day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson scrutinizing a list of books allegedly assigned or recommended at the Georgetown Day School, where Jackson serves on the board and one of her daughters attends. Republicans, including Donald Trump, have gone a bit off the rails with their concerns over Critical Race Theory (CRT), a legal theory that holds that racism is embedded in U.S. institutions and which is not, as such, taught in K-12 schools. So far, attempts to use the dog whistle of CRT to attack Jackson don’t seem to be working. A poll released March 23 found that Jackson has the highest public support of any Supreme Court nominee in history besides Chief Justice John Roberts.
During Cruz’s tense exchange with Jackson, where he listed books he claimed were teaching CRT, he pulled out a copy of sociology professor Alex Vitale’s The End of Policing. Since 2020’s racial justice protests, the book has been embraced as a clear-eyed introduction to the abolitionist movement. As AOC jokingly implied in a tweet, the pristine condition of Cruz’s copy suggested that he had never actually read the book, but he took the time to make sure the press got a picture of him holding it aloft, cover visible.
In a statement to the media, Vitale wrote, “While I’m honored to be included in Sen. Cruz’s list of Critical Race Theory texts, this seems to be just another example of the Senator’s intentional confusing of a specific school of legal scholarship and the broader effort to shed light on the nature and history of racism in America.” Vitale continued, “I can only hope that the Senator’s misguided efforts to suppress this history will backfire and inspire a generation of young people to seek out these ideas that are all too often absent in American schools.”
And backfire it has. Less than 24 hours since the hearing, the book has rocketed to the #1 best-seller spot in its genre on Amazon. Vitale has been celebrating the kerfuffle on his Twitter account, calling Cruz’s statement “the best endorsement yet for The End of Policing.” And of course, there were memes.