Disinformation upholds racial power structures by promulgating alternative truths to naïve populations. Historically, autocratic regimes have used education to bend students to the state’s will through classroom curricula and textbooks. In the US, Critical Race Theory has been introduced to combat the philosophy of idealizing the state, leading students to question the power structures that led to slavery, segregation, and contemporary inequity. However, there are emerging counter-narratives to CRT which promote a view of the classroom as a place to memorize state-approved content rather than question assumed truths. Through a case study reviewing southern textbooks in the 20th century designed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and modern anti-CRT disinformation campaigns, I analyze three modes in which disinformation operationalizes the naivete of children in the public education system. These modes are textbooks, classroom curricula, and political disinformation campaigns. By illustrating the contemporary modes in which a state or its supporters attempt to use public education to produce naïve students, and provide historical context, this research identifies a pattern of disinformation as a strategy to preserve an ideal vision of the American state. If nothing is done to break this trend, naïve populations of students will be molded into supporting status-quo racist institutions based upon their core education and will likely be ripe for racist digital disinformation campaigns as adults.
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Reichbach, Sean, "How Critical Race Theory Disinformation Operationalizes Naivete of Public School Children: A Contemporary and Historical Analysis" (2022). Research Days Posters 2022. 132.