Understanding the Backlash Against Critical Race Theory

Origins and Philosophic Basis

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic framework forged during the 1970s in American law schools. One sympathetic commentator writing in Slate describes CRT thusly: “an academic movement that looks at society and the law through a racial lens…racism, according to this line of thought, is not a matter of bad behavior by individual racists; it’s embedded in American attitudes and institutions.” Adherents of CRT will often describe the United States as a “white supremacist” country wherein black and brown minorities are “oppressed” by those who wield “white privilege.”

Originally construed as a legal doctrine, CRT holds that the American criminal justice system is deficient due to persistent “systemic racism” directed at minorities. CRT’s theoreticians include Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, and several others. Bell was known for his view that America is a “society structured on racial castes.” When white Americans support civil rights for their black peers, says Bell, they do so only out of concern for a competing caste system based on class. Delgado specializes in “hate speech”; he believes that the First Amendment is too broad and that legally curtailing “objectionable” speech will make the United States a “fairer, more equal, and less hateful place.”

Krenshaw originated the theory of “intersectionality,” a doctrine in vogue on college campuses that holds it is not enough to redress oppression against traditionally marginalized groups, but rather that we should focus our attention on subgroups within marginalized groups that are even more oppressed.  For example, an intersectional thinker would hold that while blacks as a group have been oppressed and women as a group have been oppressed, black women are more oppressed than black men or white women. Hence, the moral focus should be on black women, at the expense of black men and white women. We can, of course, add further qualifications to make them even more oppressed; A black, transgendered, homosexual, woman, for this ideology, is the unicorn of oppression.

Though it began as a niche legal doctrine in American academia, CRT recycles older philosophic ideas. CRT owes its intellectual firepower to the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, a German faction of Marxism that arose in the 1930s. The Frankfurt School was led by Max Horkheimer, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse, all men that fled the Nazis for the United States and became active intellectuals. Horkheimer delivered lectures on Marx at the University of Chicago. Fromm became known for applying Marxism to psychoanalysis. Marcuse, the man often described as the “father of the New Left,” taught at Columbia, Harvard, and Brandeis.

What made the critical theorists distinct from orthodox Marxists is that they were acutely aware of the 20th century’s failed experiments with communism in the Soviet Union, Red China, Cuba, Cambodia, etc. Once it became clear that the socialist regimes recommended by Marx could not outproduce the United States, the critical theorists decided it was time for a change in strategy. America at the time was a land beset by racial strife, with segregationists battling civil rights activists over America’s future. Sensing what Jimmy Carter would later refer to as America’s “crisis of confidence,” the critical theorists believed the path forward was to undermine America from within, in effect exploiting the flaws in America’s founding and using that as a wedge to wipe out America’s virtues. To this end, they adapted the traditional Marxist dialect of “worker vs. capitalist” into a paradigm that set white and black Americans against one another, with the former exploiting the latter.

In short, critical theory exchanged Marx’s coveted class war for a race war. Intellectually fathered by the Frankfurt School and gestated in American academia for decades, CRT has now gone mainstream in the United States and is being applied to every facet of the culture, not just law. In American schools and businesses, CRT comprises the basis for “diversity, inclusion, and equity” initiatives or “unconscious bias training.” By “equity,” critical race theorists mean equality of outcome, bereft of concern for dessert; by “diversity,” they mean diversity of skin color, bereft of concern for merit. CRT advocates desire more affirmative action programs and more redistribution of wealth along racial lines at the expense of white Americans. A tipoff that you are dealing with a believer in critical race theory is the “anti-racist” moniker that many have adopted. Such a label is ironic, given that CRT is obsessed with race and does more than “play the race card”: it removes all other cards from the deck.

CRT and American Culture

CRT’s influence has grown for decades in higher education, and it is now consuming every other American cultural institution. The most visible realm in which CRT has made its mark, aside from politics, is probably journalism. Consider The New York Times 1619 Project,” an initiative “to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year.” Why 1619? Because this was the first year on record that African slaves were brought to the North American continent. Rather than honor the architects of the American system of government for creating the first nation founded on individual rights, Times writers thought it appropriate to judge America’s founders out of context. After all, America’s founders had inherited the barbaric practice of slavery from the rest of human history, and it was their ideas that culminated in its elimination. A more explicit example of CRT’s takeover of journalism is Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot’s declaration that she will only grant one-on-one interviews to “journalists of color,” reminding us that she believes that the skin color of an interviewer is more essential than their talent as a writer or the relevance of their questions.

In literature, CRT is preached by bestsellers such as White Fragility by Robin Diangelo, How to be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi, and Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Richard Delgado. The goal of these titles is to convince otherwise colorblind Americans that they are racist, only to cash in on their readers’ subsequent shame and desperation to remove the ignoble “bigot” label. While this goes on, several Dr. Seuss titles have since been removed from the shelves due to supposedly racist images.

In the Arts and Entertainment Industry, CRT is responsible for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ recent decision to create diversity quotas. According to that organization, “the standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience.” They add, for good measure, that “the aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them.” In other words, never mind the individual qualifications of actors, actresses, screenwriters, directors, producers, cameramen, gaffers, grips, and the myriad other people required to create a movie; instead, look at each as a representative of their demographic group and ensure that it is the groups that are represented and equalized. Newsbusters reports that in the year since the killing of George Floyd, there have been 127 television episodes that have explicitly pushed the BLM agenda, an average of nearly three episodes per week.

In corporate America, CRT is responsible for companies like Disney and Coca-Cola pushing “anti-racist training” wherein their associates are required to reject “equality” and “whiteness” in favor of “equity.” Tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google are pushing their employees to refrain from using traditional cybersecurity terms such as “blacklist” and “whitelist” to prevent harm from being done to “programmers of color.” Even food labels are not safe from Marxist doctrines, as the “Aunt Jemima” syrup brand and “Uncle Ben’s Instant Rice” are being banned for being racially insensitive.

In professional sports, CRT is behind Major League Baseball’s decision to move its All-Star game out of Atlanta after Georgia passed a law requiring voter id — even though the decision cost Atlanta nearly $100 million in tourism revenue that most directly affected the 40% of Atlanta that happens to be black. We must also recall the influence that CRT had on NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who publicly knelt during the National Anthem to protest “police brutality” against blacks during several games in 2017.

Perhaps most alarming of all is CRT’s incursion into the American military. The U.S. Military is tasked with defending the free world from foreign aggressors and is the Atlas of representative government today. Our allies in Europe, South America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East stand face-to-face with aggressive, authoritarian regimes such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Should the U.S. military falter, the free world will be a mere footnote in the annals of history, and yet, even here, CRT has growing tentacles.

Military academies across the country are incorporating CRT as part of their curricula, creating what one retired general called “a culture of fear in the military.” He noted further, chillingly, that “…if you speak out against this Marxist ideology, you will be relieved of your duties.” One recent example is Space Force Lt. Colonel Matthew Lohmeier, who was dismissed from his post after publicly speaking out against Marxism in the military. NASA recently put out new recruiting materials championing equity, a development that critics online panned as “critical space theory.” Meanwhile, President Biden and his allies in the Pentagon have identified “right-wing extremism” as the real threat to the safety of the United States. This development likely pleases Beijing and Moscow, who relish America’s budding “cultural revolution”.

CRT and the Schools

What all of this confirms is that American culture has been largely infiltrated and dominated by CRT. If we hope to reverse this, we must speak out against the racist CRT perspective and fight fiercely to keep it out of the schools, where future CEOs, artists, authors, athletes, and journalists are being trained. Incidentally, that is what parents are now doing, as they revolt against school boards that pushing CRT. Meanwhile, the teachers’ unions are digging in their heels and preparing to wage cultural war against said parents.

Why is it so harmful to have CRT taught in schools? The answer is that young children are ill-equipped to shield themselves from the intellectual barrage that the critical theorists have loaded and aimed at them. Rather than learn that the United States was founded on Enlightenment ideals and that it gradually came to live up to those ideals over the course of its history, children will be taught that it was founded as a racist country. They will be taught that the founders’ intellectual achievements are airy platitudes concocted by wealthy slave owners to placate the poor and the non-white. Take a white and non-white child at random from any classroom in America: the former will be told that everything that she has and will have is the result of “white privilege,” and the latter will be told that he is entitled to more because he was born a victim, and that “the system” has it in for him.

Consider the effect that such an education would have on the self-esteem of these children and what it would mean for the country when they got old enough to seek redress for these injustices. We cannot allow this to happen to our children or our country. This brings us to what people concerned about CRT can do to combat it. To defeat a philosophic movement, one needs to refute its central tenets and provide an alternative viewpoint. In what follows, I will refute the three central premises of CRT and leave you with leads towards a better worldview.

Central Premise #1: America is “Systemically Racist” Against Blacks

CRT acolytes assert, with little to no evidence, that American society in the early 21st century is no better than the Jim Crow South in terms of its treatment of blacks and that, in many cases, it is worse. One leading advocate for the latter is President Biden, who described Georgia’s voting laws as “Jim Crow on steroids.”

Let’s be clear at the outset: blacks in America, historically, have suffered state-sponsored discrimination in the United States. Slavery was a legal practice endorsed by the state governments and enforced through the draconian slave codes. Segregation was enforced as law by state and local governments even after the Confederacy was destroyed. We can safely say that America, in its past, did impose real systemic racism. But we have come a long way since then, and the evidence is all around us if we only choose to look.

Informally, we can see that many blacks achieve prominence in professional sports, STEM, Hollywood movies, T.V. shows, and academia. Ironically, the critical theorists’ own success in capturing mainstream culture is sufficient testimony to the fact that Americans largely oppose traditional racism against blacks. Further, America elected a black president to the White House for not one but two terms. In the most recent election, it elected its first black vice president, and Pew Research shows that Congress is more racially and ethnically diverse than it has ever been.

Jason L. Riley, a columnist at the Wall Street Journal, provides some quantitative data supporting the idea that discrimination against blacks in the United States is largely dead. Contrary to the pervasive claim by BLM that police brutality against blacks is a “systemic” issue, Riley notes that police killings of blacks fell by 60 to 80% from the late 1960s to the early 2000s and have remained low since.

“According to a Washington Post database,” Riley writes, “police shot and killed 999 people in 2019, including 424 whites and 252 blacks. Twelve of the black victims were unarmed, versus 26 of the white victims. In a country where annual arrests number more than 10 million, if those black death totals constitute an ‘epidemic’ of police use of lethal force against blacks, then the word has lost all meaning.” Furthermore, Riley notes, approval for black-white intermarriages rose from 4% in 1958 to 45% in 1995, to 84% in 2013. In 2017, fewer than 10% of whites in a major survey believed that intermarriage is a “bad thing,” while the actual share of interracial marriages rose from just 3% in 1967 to 17% in 2015. 

The black population indeed ranks high in poverty, fatherlessness, and other negative statistics, but we cannot assume that historical discrimination is the primary cause. The mere existence of a statistical difference between two or more groups does not automatically imply that discrimination is the cause for the difference. The fact is that life for blacks was getting better every year in the first half of the 20th century, only to stagnate and even decline in the latter part of the century. Economists Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams have argued that there is ample evidence to suggest that this latter decline in the black population is due to perverse incentives associated with the establishment of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” welfare state legislation.

Sowell points out that in 1940, only 19% of black children were born out of wedlock. By 1975 that number had risen to 49%, and by 2000 it was a staggering 68%. Also, in 1940, 13% of black families had incomes above the poverty line. By 1960, that number had risen to 53%, and by the end of the 1960’s it had peaked at 70%, where it has remained largely stagnant. In 1960, 20% of black children lived in single-parent homes, and just thirty years later, that number had tripled. How can it be, asks Sowell, that racism and discrimination were worse the further back you go in history, and yet black poverty is higher today relative to other groups than it was in the 1960s? The reason is that legislation was passed that incentivized blacks to become dependent on the government.

American blacks have been the special target of an intellectual establishment that prioritizes collective demographics over individuals. These intellectuals have sought to use the historical crimes committed against blacks in America’s past in an attempt to hamstring America’s future. After all, if you can convince a man that the world hates him for his race and that only the government can save him, you have earned a lifelong (and terrified) voter.

As evidence for this nefarious campaign, consider that the critical theorists neglect to mention the experience of Asian Americans. Consider that just as blacks have lower credit scores than whites, make less money than whites and get denied mortgages more often than whites, the same can be said about whites in relation to Asians. In just under a century, Japanese male income was higher in the United States than white male income despite decades of discrimination against Japanese and their internment by the U.S. government during World War 2. And yet, we never hear about “Asian privilege,” precisely because it does not serve to drive the wedge of racial tensions.

Furthermore, with the adoption of CRT in American schools and the passage of laws propping up blacks, one can argue that America is becoming “systemically racist” — against white Americans. To rectify the mistakes of the past and avoid making the same mistakes in the future, it is crucial that we think in principle and reject racism in all of its forms, including CRT and all of its derivatives.

Central Premise #2: Race is Culture and Culture is Race

CRT conflates race with culture and equates ideas with the former rather than the latter. One’s race refers to his or her physical appearance, largely determined by genes, i.e., biology. One’s culture refers to his or her beliefs and practices, which are both volitional, i.e., chosen. The great achievement of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was its recognition that race is not a moral issue, as the moral is that which one chooses and acts upon. Since a person’s race has no relationship to their honesty, ambition, integrity, intelligence, diligence, trustworthiness, or capacity for hard work, it is not a proper basis for judging him or her.

CRT associates values such as “objectivity,” “individualism,” “punctuality,” “capitalism,” or “love of the nuclear family” with whiteness, a racial designation. Such a view is just as absurd as declaring their opposites as representative of blackness. Ideas, as such, lack a racial dimension.

To make this point concrete, consider my intellectual development and how it diverges from others who may share my genetic lineage. I am a passionate individualist, an admirer of the Enlightenment, an advocate for political freedom and capitalism, yet I have Cuban ancestry. Who do you suppose I sympathize more with: Thomas Jefferson or Fidel Castro? An individualist would compare and contrast the ideas and values of Jefferson and Castro, finding that Jefferson was a revolutionary concerned with limited government and Castro was a revolutionary concerned with unlimited government. Such an analysis would find that I am more at home alongside Jefferson. A racist, on the other hand, would say that because Castro and I have a similar genetic makeup, I should be more at home with El Caballo rather than the third U.S. president. An “anti-racist” imbued with CRT would not only agree with the racist, but they would hold my own view to be “a problematic reflection of white privilege.”

Parents and educators need to teach children that a person’s race is morally, socially, and politically irrelevant. Children should be taught that one should neither be ashamed nor proud of their race since this is not something anyone has control over, and it is irrational to be either ashamed or proud of something that is truly out of your hands.

We, as CRT dissenters, need to assert that racism is a real concept but that it has been stolen and perverted by the critical theorists to indict white Americans for moral crimes  because, somehow, “only white people can be racist.” Racism is the idea that one can make moral, political, and social judgments about individuals based on their skin color — any skin color — and that no “race” of people has a monopoly on such a moral abomination. We as Americans need to declare that we believe it is unjust to reward people today for crimes that may have been committed against their ancestors yesterday, that it is immoral to inflict handicaps on individuals today for injustices committed by their ancestors yesterday.

Central Premise #3: CRT Advocates are Largely Peaceful, and Want to Improve America

CRT’s main political manifestation is the unruly Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which started in 2013 by agitating on behalf of black Americans shot by police, irrespective of court proceedings and facts contrary to the “police hunt blacks” narrative. True to a roughly 4-year, cyclic period of activity, BLM reemerged in the summer of 2020, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN.

In a worldwide series of violent riots, BLM activists destroyed an estimated $2 billion worth of property and killed no fewer than 19 people. While the media were sanguine about the riots, calling them “mostly peaceful protests,” BLM burned small businesses, vandalized historical monuments, harassed innocent bystanders, and assaulted police with rocks, bottles, and bricks. District attorneys in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia have declined to prosecute the great majority of those arrested while committing such acts, being sympathetic to the cause of so-called “racial  justice.” On a broader scale, BLM has successfully made “defunding the police” and legislating reparations for slavery live issues in the 2020 elections and beyond.

The orgy of violence perpetrated by BLM in the summer of 2020 is only the tip of the iceberg regarding CRT’s presence in American politics. In Seattle, a horde of armed thugs inspired by “social justice” ideology seized control of 5 city blocks, erected barricades, evicted police officers, and declared themselves a sovereign territory within the United States borders. Known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), American taxpayers unlucky enough to reside within this Marxist colony were intimidated by nightly violence and a complete lack of police protection. In three weeks, CHAZ residents experienced four shootings and several unsolved robberies and sexual assaults. Seattle police eventually disbanded the CHAZ territory in an early morning raid. The construction team tasked with cleaning up the occupation’s wreckage had to remove numerous cement barriers tagged with “ACAB” – an acronym for “All Cops Are Bastards.”

There have been attempts to smuggle in support for BLM in the public schools. Recently, in my home of Clarkstown, a Board of Education meeting erupted in a heated discussion over an allegedly “student-run” presentation on BLM. Residents were split over whether the presentation was appropriate. Many who supported the presentation were confused as to the true nature of BLM and believed that its adherents merely seek to rectify discrimination in America. They are wrong, but this is understandable; the media are sycophants when it comes to BLM. You can check out my criticism of this presentation here.

In the 2020 American presidential election, debate moderator Chris Wallace raised the issue of what he referred to as “racial sensitivity training” in the federal bureaucracy. He was, of course, referring to the implementation of CRT-based training programs, particularly in the U.S. military. Wallace’s framing of the question downplayed CRT’s Marxist roots and positioned it as a program for racial harmony in the United States, but this is a lie.

The educators in Wallace’s “racial sensitivity training” classes, funded by American taxpayers, see America as a prototypical capitalist country, and they believe that capitalism is doomed to fail. As Marxists, they think this is inevitable because they are determinists: they believe that people do not have free will and are conditioned by their environment (or, in this case, their biology) to believe certain things. Of course, few ask the critical theorists the question as to how they, as critics of capitalism and “systemic racism,” managed to step out of the conditioning that we all allegedly undergo to see true reality. In other words, how can they claim objective truth when everything is subjectively based on one’s “lived experiences”? How are science and logic possible in a world where reality depends on whether you are white or black? To my knowledge, the critical theorists have no answer to these questions, nor did their orthodox Marxist predecessors.

When confronted with men and women who are themselves black and yet dissent from CRT, such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Candace Owens, Larry Elder, Clarence Thomas, or Glenn Loury, critical race theorists seek refuge in the idea that these people have been brainwashed by “right-wing propaganda.” In essence, CRT advocates believe that black conservatives are not really black because they are conservative. Such a dishonest ideology is not interested in facts or prosperity but political power at any cost.

In reading the critical race theorists or attending their rallies, it doesn’t take long to discover their true agenda: the destruction of capitalism and the imposition of some variant of racialized socialism — with some anarchy in the interim in order to destabilize what remains of the capitalist American order. Ibram Kendi has stated in print that “to be truly antiracist, you also have to be truly anti-capitalist.” In a rare moment of candor, Black Lives Matter D.C. openly declared on its website that they seek to create “the conditions for Black Liberation through the abolition of systems and institutions of white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism.” Thus we have the true goals for CRT advocates: racial conflict as a means to the end of socialism.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully after reading this, the reader is now up to speed with CRT and can understand how evil and dangerous it is. While we ought to abolish public schools in general (as I mention here), the fact is that education is currently controlled by the government. As such, we as American taxpayers and parents need to stand up and ban the teaching of CRT while we still can. If you want to get involved, please reach out to your local lawmakers and school board to let them know that CRT has no place in the public schools. If you have friends or family members on the other side of this issue, send them the link to this article so we can expose them to the truth.

Even if you do not have kids, a world run by CRT-indoctrinated people is going to make the Jim Crow South and Nazi Germany look like the most tolerant places on Earth.