Senator Ted Cruz’s ranting and raving about the dangers of anti-racist literature at Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Senate confirmation hearing this week turned out to be some great marketing for anti-racist literature. The End of Policing, by Alex Vitale, a copy of which Cruz brandished while grilling Jackson about critical race theory this week, shot up the Amazon best-seller list. The free advertising didn’t go unnoticed: “Thanks to Ted Cruz, The End of Policing is now the #1 Best Seller in Gov. Social Policy,” tweeted Vitale. Cruz also questioned Jackson about Antiracist Baby, a children’s book by Ibram X. Kendi, which subsequently became Amazon’s top-selling children’s book and number two best seller across all categories, per The Washington Post.
Vitale described Cruz’s personal condemnation of his 2017 book as its “best endorsement yet.” The book analyzes the racist history of policing in the U.S. and argues for alternative crime-reduction methods. “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,” Vitale said. As of Friday, The End of Policing sat atop Amazon’s sales chart for books on the sociology of race relations.
Cruz used most of his allotted time during Jackson’s hearing waving around copies of books he alleged promoted critical race theory, the almost exclusively graduate-level academic framework around the intersection of race and society. He also asked Jackson, who is the first Black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court, on another of Kendi’s children’s books, How to Be an Antiracist. Cruz highlighted the three books because they’re on Georgetown Day School’s student reading list, a pre-K–12 school in D.C. where Jackson serves as a board member. After reading off a number of decontextualized quotes from Antiracist Baby, he went on to ask Jackson if she agrees “that babies are racist.” (In reality, Antiracist Baby states that “even though all races are not treated the same, we are all human.”)
Jackson told Cruz that “equality” and “justice” are core tenets at Georgetown Day School, where her daughter is a student alongside some the children of some of Washington’s most elite families. “It’s a private school such that every parent who joins the community does so willingly, with an understanding that they’re joining a community that is designed to make sure that every child is valued, every child is treated as having inherent worth, and none are discriminated against because of race,” she said during her hearing. The senator has since attempted to clarify his comments, saying in a Wednesday interview that he did not intend to disparage Georgetown Day School or the families who send their kids there. “I’m saying that Judge Jackson is on the board of a school that aggressively teaches critical race theory,” he said, before distorting critical race theory as an “extreme and divisive theory that pits children against other children, divides us based on race, and teaches a false and revisionist history of our nation.”
Curiously, Cruz sends his own daughters to the comparable St. John’s School, which also takes an openly anti-racist posture, according to a New York Times report. While reacting to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer two years ago, leading St. John’s leaders released a statement declaring that the institution “must be antiracist and eliminate racism of any type—including institutional racism—within our school community and beyond.”
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