America is more divided over race than it has been since the Civil War.  Our nation has leapt forward in racial equality since Union fought Confederate. Slavery is gone. Americans of both sexes and all races can vote. Laws and cultural establishments promote equality, and the benefits of American culture are more evenly spread among groups than ever. Despite these victories, protestors howl that nothing is better. Seattle had its autonomous zone, Portland has its perpetual riots, and crime skyrockets. Until every person is exactly equal in every aspect of life, naysayers complain. Institutions from universities to local, state, and Federal governments laud some Americans and lambast others based on their race, sex, or sexual identity. To CRT proponents, the color of people’s skin, or their sexuality, rather than the content of their character, is what matters.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) holds that the concept of race, which is defined as physical characteristics suggesting a common origin and used to divide people into groups, was invented by the white Europeans to justify their oppression of natives in their colonial empires. This is patently false, as the Hindu Vedas around 1500 BC, the Bible around 700 BC, and medieval Muslim commentators identified physical characteristics, common origins, and grouped people based on physical characteristics. The text Critical Race Theory spells out CRT’s core tenets.[1]

  1. Racism is ordinary, not aberrational. That is, it is the everyday experience of people of color in the United States.
  2. A system of white over color ascendancy serves important purposes, both psychic and material, for the dominant group. That is, white supremacy is systemic and benefits white people. Therefore, “color-blind” policies can tackle only the most egregious and demonstrable forms of discrimination.
  3. The “social construction” thesis holds that race and races are products of social thought and relations. Intersectionality and antiessentialism – opposition to the idea of racial difference as innate – are needed to address this.[2]
  4. A “unique voice of color” exists and “minority status…brings with it a presumed competence to speak about race and racism. This is not understood as essentialism but as the product of common experiences of oppression. In other words, this is standpoint theory.[3]

Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race” and “: the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another.”[4]

Critical Race Theory is Marxist theory applied to race and sex. Karl Marx in his Communist Manifesto promoted the metanarrative that the fundamental conflict of human existence was class warfare between the rich (who owned the means of production) and the poor (who did not). CRT posits that endless war between groups differing in race, sex (including sexual identity), and ethnicity, not class struggle, is the fundamental conflict of human existence. In CRT, whites have the power and oppress everyone else, including blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc., who do not have the power. Racism, sexism, and oppression are unconscious and unavoidable. If you are a heterosexual white male, you are a racist, sexist, and oppressor, and nothing that you do or fail to do can change that. Your sex and color are your original sins. If you are a person of color, racism, sexism, and oppression are impossible. Your sex and color are your permanent virtues. Because they lack the “unique voice of color,” white people cannot even talk about racism or sexism and cannot be part of any societal solutions.

As Marxism promoted revolution to achieve equity, so CRT promotes revolution to achieve equity. America was founded on principles of equal opportunity, but the left wants equal outcomes (equity). It is not enough for a school or employer to accept the best qualified applicant; they must select students and employees from “victim” groups rather than “oppressor” groups whenever possible. Wealth must be taken from “oppressors” and given to “victims.”[5] “Oppressors” must be prevented from speaking in public places or on social media while “victims” must be lauded for saying anything acceptable to the CRT power players. Just as in communist states, an omnipresent bureaucracy is required to enforce acceptable thoughts, words, and actions.

Critical Race Theory has many flaws.

  1. People identify themselves by more than race and sex. Many identify themselves more by their occupation (teacher), location (West Virginia), family (Trump), or hobbies (baseball fan) than their racial group or sexuality. The most important source of personal identification for billions of people is religion. As communism cannot tolerate people identifying themselves by something other than class, CRT cannot tolerate people identifying themselves by something other than race, sex, gender identify, or ethnicity.
  2. Targeting any single group as oppressors and everyone else as victims is dependent on time and location, constantly changing, and always inaccurate. Depending upon the time and location, the oppressors could be the Chinese, the Mongols, or someone else.
  3. The CRT metanarrative does not know what to do with “victim” groups and individuals who are materially thriving, and “oppressor” groups and individuals who are not. Asians are “oppressed minorities” in CRT and yet are thriving in America today, as the Irish did 180 years ago. Materially successful individuals are found in every group.
  4. CRT fails to acknowledge responsibility and enable growth. Attributing all misfortune or failure of a “victim” to an “oppressor” eliminates the responsibility of the “victim” for their situation, however large or small, and eliminates the ability to grow to overcome their misfortune or failure.
  5. CRT rejects the essential truths of the universe. Natural phenomena like plants and animals have essential characteristics that make them what they are. Similarly, men and women have essential characteristics that make them men and women. It bears saying that no credible evidence exists for any racially determined difference in intelligence, virtue, or other key traits.
  6. CRT ends in death. Promoting permanent conflict and eliminating any possibility of cooperation will kill individuals and society.

Banning the teaching of CRT in schools may help protect children from the malevolent influences of their CRT-promoting teachers. However, the best way to fight an idea is with another idea.  Conservatives believe in individual rights, individual responsibility, limited government, and the rule of law. These opinions are based on received wisdom from many cultures through the ages, including our founding documents. These eternal truths are the right ideas, both to promote justice for all races and to combat CRT. We must speak kindly and boldly and walk our talk. Ultimately, conservative ideas and faithful people will win. As Martin Luther King Jr. implied in his 1963 speech “I Have a Dream,” the content of our character will always and ultimately prevail over the color of our skin.

 

[1] Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic in Critical Race Theory as quoted in Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay, Cynical Theories, How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity – and Why This Harms Everybody, (Durham NC: Pitchstone Publishing, 2020), 119.

[2] Essentialism is defined as follows: a belief that things have a set of characteristics which make them what they are, and that the task of science and philosophy is their discovery and expression; the doctrine that essence is prior to existence.

This includes the view that all children should be taught on traditional lines the ideas and methods regarded as essential to the prevalent culture, and the view that categories of people, such as women and men, or heterosexuals and gay people, or members of ethnic groups, have intrinsically different and characteristic natures or dispositions. https://www.bing.com/search?q=essentialism&cvid=797c1d4bd44c46e6a938514a44fcfc0f&aqs=edge.0.0l7.4359j0j4&FORM=ANAB01&PC=U531.

[3] Standpoint theory is a theory that knowledge stems from social position; that where you stand determines what you know. Its roots are in feminist thought. Standpoint theory denies that science, or anything else, is objectively true, or that if anything is objectively true, since humans are not objective, we cannot find it. https://www.britannica.com/topic/standpoint-theory.

[4] Merriam Webster, Racism, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism.

[5] Christopher F. Rufo, “Critical Race Theory: What it is and How to Fight it,” Imprimis, Hillsdale College, March 2021, Volume 50, number 3