As Sen. Ted Cruz questioned President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, on Tuesday at her Senate confirmation hearing, the Republican from Texas one-by-one held up books “either assigned or recommended,” he said, to students at a D.C. prep school where the judge is on the board of trustees.
“If you look at the Georgetown Day School’s curriculum, it is filled and overflowing with critical race theory,” Cruz said, referring to the intellectual movement that examines the way policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism. Combating the movement has become a rallying cry for conservatives.
Among the stack was a white paperback with large, bright orange letters: “The End of Policing,” Alex S. Vitale’s 2017 book that analyzes modern policing and makes the case for defunding the police.
But Cruz’s use of the prop had a different outcome than the senator probably intended. Sales of the book are skyrocketing.
“Thanks to Ted Cruz, The End of Policing is now the #1 Best Seller in Gov. Social Policy,” Vitale tweeted Tuesday, including a screenshot of the Amazon ranking.
As of Friday morning, the book is No. 1 in Amazon’s sociology of race relations category.
Other books highlighted by Cruz have also climbed the charts. Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist” is No. 2 in race relations, and his children’s book “Antiracist Baby,” which Cruz gave considerable screen time, is the No. 1 children’s book and the No. 2 bestseller for all books sold on Amazon. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
In a statement on Twitter, Vitale said he was “honored” Cruz recognized his book as a critical race theory text. Still, he added that he found the senator’s reference to the book misguided in the context of questioning Jackson.
“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,” wrote Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College who was born and raised in Texas.
Cruz is among a large group of Republican lawmakers who have equated the high-level academic study of critical race theory to any reference or teaching of present-day racism. According to Chalkbeat, a nonprofit newsroom focused on education, legislators in 36 states have either proposed or passed bills to “restrict education on racism, bias, the contributions of specific racial or ethnic groups to U.S. history, or related topics.” The movement has led to books being challenged at what the American Library Association has called an “unprecedented” rate.
During the days-long confirmation hearing this week, GOP lawmakers questioned Jackson about her thoughts on critical race theory, suggesting it influenced her time on the bench.
In response to Cruz’s questions about the books taught or suggested at Georgetown Day School, Jackson said the topic has no relation to her job.
“I have not reviewed any of those books, any of those ideas — they don’t come up in my work as a judge, which I am, respectfully, here to address,” she said.
Cruz’s questioning went viral, with some people noting that the senator was offering an appropriate syllabus for those interested in learning more about critical race theory.
“Video of the best endorsement yet for The End of Policing,” Vitale tweeted.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) suggested on Twitter that Cruz never read the book.
“When you’re showing off the next book you want banned with the perfect edges and everything to underscore to everyone you haven’t actually read it,” she wrote.
In his statement, Vitale suggested that Cruz’s stunt could have the opposite of his intended effect.
“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.”