Funded by Dark Money, Chris Rufo's Nonprofit Stokes the Far Right's Culture War - 2023-06-08
In the trailer for one of Christopher Rufo's early documentaries, a shot of a rural villager driving a donkey cart cuts to scenes of a downtown Chinese cityscape, then a baseball diamond. "Two cultures in Western China are in deep conflict. Living in complete segregation, can they put aside their differences in the name of baseball?" the narrator asks. "Diamond in the Dunes," a PBS documentary Rufo directed in 2009, serves as a reminder of the radical transformation the young filmmaker turned far-right activist has undergone in the past several years. Long gone are the days when Rufo championed the coming together of Uyghurs and ethnic Chinese in a campy multiculturalist tribute to America's favorite pastime.
Today, Rufo is credited as the main architect of conservatives' weaponization of critical race theory, using his skills as a director and investigative researcher to stoke panic in the GOP base, while simultaneously using critical race theory as a catalyst to introduce curriculum-altering bills in state legislatures across the country.
Early this year, Rufo was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve on the board of the New College of Florida, and he appeared at the Republican governor's signing of the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees — or WOKE — Act, which bans discussions about certain forms of discrimination in work spaces and schools. He is a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute and regularly appears on cable and independent media to attack Disney for its queer and multiracial excesses, stoke fears about LGBTQ "groomers," and attack gender affirming health care.