A short primer on Critical Race Theory

July 22, 2021 • 9:15 am

Is the phrase “short primer” redundant? If so, forgive me. At any rate, there’s a pretty evenhanded treatment of CRT, covering its main tenets and its implications, in Forbes. You can see it by clicking on the screenshot below:

The author’s bona fides: Redstone is “the founder of Diverse Perspectives Consulting and a professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. [She is] the co-author of Unassailable Ideas: How Unwritten Rules and Social Media Shape Discourse in American Higher Education and a faculty fellow at Heterodox Academy.”

Her main point is that Critical Race Theory “forms a closed system”, a “perspective that leaves no space for anyone, no matter how well-intentioned, to see the world differently.” In other words, it brooks neither dissent nor discussion.

Her concerns are these:

CRT’s critics are often portrayed as wanting to “whitewash” history and deny the reality of slavery. If the problem were that simple, the criticisms would indeed be worthy of the dismissal they often receive. Yet, there are serious concerns about CRT that are rarely aired and that have nothing to do with these points. As a result, confusion and misinformation abound and tension continues to mount.

She lays out what she sees as the four main tenets of the theory as it’s presented in schools or to the public. Note that these differ from conceptions of CRT offered by scholars in academia. Quotes from the article are indented; any comments of mine are flush left.

1. Colorblind racism—Deemphasizing the role of race and racism, including to focus on concepts of merit, is itself a manifestation of racism.

2. Interest convergence—Members of the dominant group will only support equality when it’s in their best interest to do so.

3. Race and racism are always tied together. Race is a construct meant to preserve white dominance over people of color, while making it seem like life is about meritocracy.

4. Inattention to systemic racism—An unwillingness to recognize the full force of systemic racism as determining disparities between groups is a denial of the reality of racism today (and evidence of ignorance at best and racism at worst).

I’d add to that the following three points, which are mine. (Actually, points 5 and 6 come from Ibram Kendi and point 7 from Robin DiAngelo and many others):

5. (Really a supplement to point 4):  Inequalities in representation or groups, for example disproportionately low numbers of people of color in STEM fields, is prima facie evidence of current and ongoing racism in those fields and not a historical residuum of racism in the past.

6. The only way to rectify this kind of systemic racism resulting from ongoing discrimination is to discriminate in favor of minorities (i.e., affirmative action, dismantling meritocracies, etc.). As Kendi said, ““The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.”

7.  Every white person, whether they know it or not, is a racist, embodying, even unconsciously, the tenets of white supremacy instantiated in point 3 above.

According to Redstone, the downside of promulgating CRT is that all criticism of the theory is immediately dismissed as racism, so that there is no room for “principled concerns some may have about seeing every aspect of society through the lens of race and power.” Further, it may be hard to restructure society, she avers, when all social problems are fobbed off on either racism and ignorance.

Finally, in this short piece she gives her recommendations for people on all sides of the political spectrum, as well as for schools and the mainstream media. I quote:

To conservatives: Stop trying to enact legislative bans on CRT. Such bans are censorious, probably unconstitutional, and, simply put, will do nothing to solve the underlying problem.

To progressives: Stop talking about CRT and, more importantly, its related ideas as though objections to it and concerns about it are all driven by a denial of systemic racism or an unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of slavery. As I’ve pointed out here, this is to grossly miss the point. The importance of this point stands even if the loudest critics are not raising the concerns I’ve outlined here.

To the mainstream media: See advice for progressives, above.

To schools and workplaces: Critical Race Theory is a social science theory—a tool to understand the world around us. As a theory, its related ideas about race, identity, power, and fairness constitute one possible way to see the world. As with any social science theory, but particularly one this controversial, its ideas should be placed in context. Placing the ideas in context requires presenting contrasting viewpoints—for instance, perspectives that do not automatically assert that racialized explanations and solutions should be the primary lens for viewing the world. Importantly, these contrasting viewpoints are to be presented on moral footing that’s equal to CRT’s.

I can’t say I disagree with any of these prescriptions. The presentation of CRT as a given that brooks no dissent is particularly troubling to me as a scientist, because, after all, it is a “theory” and can’t be taken as absolute truth.  My points #5 and #7, for example, are dubious and, I think, palpably false assertions. Yet if you raise objections, you’re not only typed as a racist yourself, but demonized. We have to beware of a theory that is presented as prima facie truth, for, like CRT, it constitutes a system that, because it cannot be shown to be wrong, cannot be assumed to be right.

This is not to say, of course, that racism doesn’t exist, or hasn’t shaped our country profoundly. It does and it has. But it’s not the only problem we face (there’s the matter of class inequality, for instance), and even fixing racial inequality is far more difficult than some adherents to CRT suggest. (Effacing history, for example, by removing statues or renaming buildings, while such efforts may be warranted, will accomplish almost nothing.) And CRT won’t touch the issue of anti-Semitism.

60 thoughts on “A short primer on Critical Race Theory

    1. See the complaint filed against Evanston/Skokie School District 65, along with the U.S. Department of Education Letter of Finding, both of which are available here.

        1. I don’t know. The following may work. They are taken from the complaint.

          1. Colorblind racism—Deemphasizing the role of race and racism, including to focus on concepts of merit, is itself a manifestation of racism.>/i>

          141. District 65 also instructed fifth grade teachers to repeat out loud to students, “Pretending not to see color is called color blindness. Color blindness helps racism. . . . Many White people use color blindness to ignore the problem of racism.”

          142. District 65 also instructed fifth grade teachers to ask students what colorblind messages they have heard. According to the District, the messages “treat everybody equally” and “love conquers all” are colorblind and therefore are racist.

          3. Race and racism are always tied together. Race is a construct meant to preserve white dominance over people of color, while making it seem like life is about meritocracy.

          14. Even District 65’s use of language is designed to promote a view of race essentialism and to treat teachers and students differently because of their race. For example, District 65 defines “race” as “a political construction created to concentrate power with white people and legitimize dominance over non-white people.”

          2. Interest convergence—Members of the dominant group will only support equality when it’s in their best interest to do so.

          64. …“Cultural White Privilege” is “[a] set of dominant cultural assumptions about what is good, normal or appropriate that reflects Western European white world views and dismisses or demonizes other world views.”

          4. Inattention to systemic racism—An unwillingness to recognize the full force of systemic racism as determining disparities between groups is a denial of the reality of racism today (and evidence of ignorance at best and racism at worst).

          144. Through its definition for “internalized racism,” District 65 teaches that “there is a system in place that rewards people of color who support white supremacy and power and coerces or punishes those who do not[,]” resources like time and money “are unequally in the hands and under the control of white people,” “the standards for what is appropriate or ‘normal’ that people of color accept are white people’s or Eurocentric standards,” and “people of color might, for example, believe we are more violent than white people and not consider state-sanctioned political violence or the hidden or privatized violence of white people and the systems they put in place and support.”

          1. I’ll grant you 1 in addition to the already mentioned 4, then. On 2, the quoted statement fails to specify that everyone holds these attitudes (vs just being widespread) and how strongly, and whether they also hold any potentially countervailing attitudes.

            On 3, the quote states a (true, by the way) historical point about the origin of modern race concepts, but it doesn’t imply “always tied together”. It only implies “at first tied together”.

  1. Is the phrase “short primer” redundant?

    Not to anyone who’s ever endeavored to read Heidegger’s An Introduction to Metaphysics. 🙂

  2. Critical Race Theory is the new Communism. In the 1950s, any person that was critical of U.S. domestic or foreign policy was in danger of being accused of being a communist. Today, any person critical of the U.S. in regard to present race relations or its history is in danger of being accused of being a critical race theorist. In other words, the right wing has found it a useful tool in slurring liberals. Even if one accepts the definition of the term as defined in the article, the important question to answer is to what extent the population (including Black people) actually accepts its tenets (such as all whites are racists) and attempts to put them into practice. All we have are anecdotes as was the case of supposed communists in the 1950s. For example, the right wing is, in effect, claiming that there is a vast conspiracy of teachers throughout the country to indoctrinate students with CRT, just as there was a vast conspiracy of election officials throughout the country that attempted to commit fraud to stop Trump from being re-elected or that because there are a few “breakthrough” cases of Covid that the vaccines are ineffective. Anecdotes can be found to support or attack any position. Policies should not be based on them.

    1. Someone needs to explain the theory part of the discussion. I did not think that racism in American History was a theory. It certainly was not theory to the millions of slaves prior to the Civil War. I don’t see how it is theory today. Maybe American History is just a theory?

      1. The theory part is not the fact of slavery’s existence, or even the fact that racism existed and exists, it is the hypotheses and “explanations” of the motives, purposes, goals, and psychology of, for instance, the founders of the USA, and of the people described in its claims of racism, and the character and nature of racism and “white supremacy” including the claims that all white people are inherently racist, that any inequities are born of actual, present racism (in intent, not just in outcome), that the goal of “a color-blind world” is a racist one merely acting as a smoke-screen for white supremacist ideas, etc. Just as Neo-Darwinism is the theory that explains the facts of evolution, critical race theory is a proposed attempt to explain the facts of racism, and of racial inequities and inequality. I don’t think it’s as monolithic as it’s sometimes made out to be, but it does have common assumptions or hypotheses as discussed above. As theory, the ideas should be subject to criticism and discussion. To the extent that they are good explanations they will tend to hold up, to the extent that they aren’t, they will tend not to. The existence of slavery, and the existence of racism in various forms, historically at the very least, are undisputable facts. Critical race theory in all its forms is far from conclusively demonstrated.

    2. Do you really deny that the existence of a large group of people who would like to indoctrinate students with CRT? This group is perhaps not so much the teachers themselves but certainly their handlers, academic educators and administrators. The Right’s current attempts to outlaw the teaching of CRT are misguided but the threat is real. I don’t blame anyone who want to nip it in the bud.

    3. the important question to answer is to what extent the population (including Black people) actually accepts its tenets (such as all whites are racists) and attempts to put them into practice.

      No, the more important question is to what extent people with influence over school curricula, company and university EDI polices, hiring policies, and such, accept its tenets and attempt to put them into practice.

      That can amount to a small fraction of the population while still being a big issue. And there is plenty of evidence for the existence of such people (in contrast to the near-zero evidence for electoral fraud).

      1. Politicians or school boards that attempt to institute a curriculum (such as CRT) will not hold their positions for very long. This is what elections are for. At least, that’s the way it works in the U.S. Perhaps in Britain it is different.

        Again, anecdotes mean little. What I see is an attempt by the right-wing to replicate the Red scares after both world wars with a “CRT scare.” Sad to say, they may be successful.

        1. Just half — 22 of 44 — Republican US senators voted to censure Joe McCarthy in 1954. I can’t think of more than two or three Republican senators who would lift a finger to stop today’s Red Scare. Indeed, they are the very ones most strongly promoting it. Today’s US senate seems to have 20 Joe McCarthys for every Margaret Chase Smith.

        2. You nailed it: anecdotes. Except that Redstone doesn’t even cite a single school that teaches these supposed 4 principles of CRT. Although given the number of schools, I would be surprised if she couldn’t find at least one that teaches (something strongly resembling) those four ideas. Then at least we’d have anecdata. Right now, as far as readers know, all we have is Redstone’s psychic powers, by which she mindreads the antiracists in American high schools.

    4. I think it’s both as in the case of McCarthyism….there are a small vocal minority that believe it but their tactics ensure that the majority do not speak up for fear of losing their reputation and sometimes livelihood. It’s an effective way to start a revolution.

    5. Much the same could be said for neo-liberal economic theory in the 80s and 90s although admittedly not to the extent of McCarthyism.

    6. You have managed to get it exactly backwards. Anyone who criticizes CRT implicitly or explicitly is accused of being a racist.

    7. I agree. This is a new wedge issue. It is fine to debate CRT at the university level. But the right is claiming that CRT will be taught at public schools. In my state, Minnesota, there is discussion about changing social studies standards to include the past struggles of people of color. But this is not Critical Race Theory! It is just an attempt to be more inclusive and fair in teaching kids about the past. But of course, the right wing Center of the American Experience is holding events around the state in which they claim that 1. CRT will be taught in public schools if the standards are updated and 2. CRT will teach kids to hate America, teach white kids to be ashamed of their ethnicity, and will involve a form of Marxist indoctrination! This is a classic straw man, but it gets a lot of mostly rural white parents, who know nothing of CRT, afraid. Once again, this is a wedge issue. As I mentioned above, I think it is fine to debate a theory at the university level, but it is important to understand that this is very different than what is going on with respect to the general public.

      1. It may be a strawman now, or at least not yet implemented, but I don’t see how anyone can deny that CRT advocates would like its teaching to start in grade school. Even in college it isn’t being only taught as an academic subject but as a way everyone is expected to think. As has been documented many times on this website, they are using it to cause people to lose their jobs in academia and in industry. They are trying to get their theory put into practice at all levels of society. Why would grade school be immune?

        And look at the 1619 Project. Was that really intended only as a starting point for debate? The New York Times is acting as if it is something we are all expected to follow and, if you work at the NYT, you might lose your job if you don’t get the message. It’s how they want and expect everyone to view American history from now on. Surely they wouldn’t leave out the kids. After all, grade school is where everyone’s view of history starts.

        Sure, the Right is perhaps a bit ahead of the game and exaggerates the damage CRT is doing right now. I also don’t think passing laws against its teaching is the right way to go. Still, they are coming for the kids. Of that I have no doubt.

  3. And the other frequent question about “primer” in this sense is whether it’s pronounced the same as in the sense of “preparatory layer of paint”. (My own practice is, not the same.)

    1. Until I first heard it spoken, I mentally pronounced it very much as in the preparatory layer of paint, but now I pronounce it as if I were describing someone who has a higher degree of “primness” than someone else. I don’t know if that’s more correct, though.

      1. Whenever I hear “primer” (rhymes with dinner [not diner!]) I always think of the cypher key or molecular key meaning of the word. But when I hear “primer” (rhymes with diner) I always assume the preparatory coating or introduction to a subject meaning of the word.

        Probably only because of John Hurt in the movie Contact.

  4. Her recommendations are good.

    Those tenets are awful. Not just in terms of substance but because frankly a social science theory shouldn’t have hardly any conclusion-oriented tenets at all. They should rightly be methodological or ethical – baseline axioms about how to conduct study of race and racism, not predetermined answers on where it is. Conclusion-oriented tenets may be appropriate to a religion (ahem cough), but not to any academic field of study.

    1. I’ve disagreed with the idea that CRT is a Religion, most because of the absence of a supernatural element. But you could make the argument that CRT, as a “perspective that leaves no space for anyone, no matter how well-intentioned, to see the world differently” is a Cult.

        1. We used a forceful occupation of Japan to influence them to be less militant and a dictatorial rewriting of their laws to make their government more democratic. Took a couple generations of constant occupation and implicit threat against backlsiding, though. Likewise I think the far left could combine racist policies designed to ‘fix’ historical inequities with anti-racist messaging and a generation or two from now, people growing up under the new system might not view that as a contradiction worth objecting to. People are funny that way. But the question is whether we should do that – does the ends justify the means – and there I’d part ways with them and say “no” (at least for the most part. I have no issue with some mild forms of affirmative action).

          IOW I think it’s possible to use coercive, regressive indoctrination to promulgate liberal or progressive beliefs in people. If not the adults, then at least the kids who grow up under that system. I just don’t think it’s right.

      1. Oh I think you can very well have a religion without the supernatural element; Jews have been pulling this off for a while.

        1. Perhaps you are being facetious in a way that I do not grasp, but, of course, Jews (who are not exclusively cultural) believe in God.

          1. Let me tell you an old joke:

            Q. What do you call a Jew who doesn’t believe in God?
            A. A Jew.

            More seriously, about 1-in-4 American Jews do not believe in God, according to Pew. The percentage is only slightly lower for Israeli Jews.

            All of my Israeli friends, who are all scientists and identify as secular Jews, are atheists.

  5. I think all would like to see a much clearer and true coverage of racism in American History class. It was really glossed over during my years in school back in the 50s and 60s. And I did not grow up in the south. Racism has also raised its ugly head considerably in the Supreme Court and no one could deny that fact. Those facts should be part of the teaching in our history.

  6. I am most disturbed by the denigration of meritocracy. I profoundly disagree with the idea that success in every endeavor is structural, and that the successful person’s energy and effort have nothing to do with the outcome.

    Consider for a moment being a person of color who, through talent and hard work, attains height in his or her chosen field. How would you like to be that person, with everyone looking at you believing that you only got there because of affirmative action?

    L

    1. The notion is that merit for marginal groups REQUIRES a much higher bar than it does for white men in particular. It is not dismissing merit in any way. Plus your notion that there is pure merit is problematic as well. It just is not the case that all sorts of considerations outside of merit are used for anything embedded in a society.

      1. I am not asserting that there is “pure” merit. What I’m saying is that merit is a consideration that is not given the weight it deserves under CRT. I agree that in many cases the bar IS higher, but when that higher bar is met or exceeded, CRT gives others the excuse to diminish someone’s accomplishments.

        Any time viewpoints such as CRT, or any others, for that matter, predicate themselves on absolutes, (white people are ALWAYS racist, etc.), I become suspicious that the underlying beliefs are couched in mental laziness. Life is a whole lot messier than that. It behooves us to see the complexities, because a more complete understanding is more likely to produce better outcomes.

        L

      2. While I can’t speak for all of society, it seems that in many areas merit for marginal groups in fact requires a much lower bar due to Affirmative Action and the strong push for increased “diversity” in universities, corporations, and the military.

        We know how universities grade applications differently based on race, where blacks may be given an effective 250 point SAT score bonus compared to whites or Asians, etc. I’ve seen comments here on WEIT from professors who’ve related anecdotes from faculty hiring procedures that were effectively closed to whites or to white men.

        As someone who participates in the interview and hiring process at my own company, I I’ve been told by my own supervisors that “going forward we must hire only – or primarily – diverse individuals” where a “diverse individual” is defined as someone who is not a white male. I can see the double standards, with special hiring programs that exclude whites, the requirement to interview at least two “diverse individuals” before accepting any white man, “diverse individuals” getting two chances to fail in an interview while white men only get one chance to fail, our compensation being explicitly tied to how many percentage points we can shift the demographics away from whites each year, etc. (Whites are already significantly underrepresented at my company now.)

        I’ve heard plenty of second-hand stories from people in the military about similar Affirmative Action programs there.

        Where is it happening that marginal groups are held to a much higher standard than white men when it comes to meritocratic considerations? I’ve only ever seen the opposite, except in university admissions where Asian men may be even more discriminated against than white men.

    2. It’s why I never liked the idea of affirmative action for females. As a female, I worked hard to get what I got, often under difficult circumstances due to lack of money and low social standing. If a policy came out that took women simply for being women, it would diminish my achievements. I saw some of this when people perceived that was going on. When I went into university, everything was (and still is) hidden about the applicant save for their achievements. You are given a number so your name is hidden. A friend of my dad’s, upon learning I had entered university, said that it was because I was female that I got in and the reason his son did not was because he was male. Completely untrue of course, but a comforting lie of someone who was probably pretty sexist to begin with. Now imagine that lie were true. It would be so terrible I think I would give up and not go.

    3. Thank you. The defence of ‘merit’ needs to be taken regardless of where we see discussion blurring racism and meritocracy.

      Just a very quick second thought on same topic. In Soviet Russia promotion in any endeavour depended far more on communist party loyalty than on merit. Look where that got the communist party in the end.

  7. I really liked how Andrew Sullivan put CRT in that it allows one to be racist while claiming the higher ground.

    1. It certainly does look like that. CRT advocates revenge and its premises and conclusions are based on a zero sum view. Some would argue that many minorities have reason to want revenge and to think zero sum is just the way it always has been and will be.

      And really, I agree with that. Many do have good reason to feel that way. But I also firmly believe that revenge and zero sum thinking will never lead to that better society for all that most of us hope for, and that we can’t let those views dictate how we proceed.

  8. The attack on meritocracy is perhaps the worst part of CRT and, simultaneously, its Achilles’ heel. While people of color may be disadvantaged in certain contests, certainly those who have done well don’t want to see them dismantled.

    Can a world without meritocracy even exist? What would it look like? I believe meritocracy is built into the human race. It will happen regardless of anyone’s theory. The attempt to dismantle meritocracy will result only in the dismantling of merit recognition mechanisms. This opens merit to manipulation by forces of evil. For example, if we get rid of grades, degrees, and college rankings, an underground industry will rise to take its place. Such an industry would be fueled by money and personal influence to a much greater extent than the current meritocratic system.

    1. I think it’s the worst for society in general. I think it’s especially bad that an individual is striped of their humanity to be only seen as a member of a race.

    2. I’m reluctant to end meritocracy when it comes to my dentist, anyone who builds a bridge, and food safety inspectors, at least.

  9. An interesting article in The Atlantic by Caitlin Flanagan, whose writing has been covered here before:

    The University of California Is Lying to Us
    Does getting right with contemporary concepts of anti-racism mean reviving one of the state’s most shameful traditions?
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/07/why-university-california-dropping-sat/619522/

    https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2021/03/18/unwarranted-privilege-americas-elite-college-prep-schools/

  10. The unexamined assumption “meritocracy good” bothers me here. And it’s not just because of the regular claims that folks have achieved their positions in society strictly by their “merits”. I am reminded of the remark about George W. Bush (I think, perhaps it was another) that “he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple”. Perhaps my concern with meritocratic claims would be less if they were not so attached at the hip to the unconscionable disparity in wealth seen in American society. Jut the other day Jeff Bezos thanked Amazon employees and customers for his opportunity to go into space. Was that all due to his “merit”? Does power never figure into anybody’s equations here?

    I have been obliged to examine my thoughts on this topic by Michael J. Sandel’s recent book, The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? “What if . . . [Sandel posits] helping people scramble up the ladder of success in a competitive meritocracy is a hollow political project that reflects an impoverished conception of citizenship and freedom?” I think that is a fair question, and I am yet to see anyone address it here.

    I will close by saying that greater efforts to address and reduce our stark “class inequality”, as Jerry suggested above, would actually take wind from the sails of CRT, an objective I share with most commenters here.

    1. I view “meritocracy good” as almost a tautology. The issues you mention here aren’t so much with meritocracy itself but with (a) societal choices as to what qualities qualify as legitimate merit and (b) whether the difference between those at the two ends of a merit scale can grow too large.

      George W. Bush did indeed have advantages of birth but there have been many politicians that have raised themselves up from poverty. We probably do agree that money has too much influence in politics. While I’m not against people making lots of money, I am against them being able to use it to gain political position. If it was mine to decide, I would make all politicians use equal public money to make their case. Our leaders should be chosen solely on the basis of their ideas.

      Jeff Bezos’s statement was a bit too honest for most people’s taste but it is worth looking deeper into what it means. Don’t we all expect to be able to spend the money we earn however we please? Clearly the disgust with Bezos comes from a perception that he didn’t make his money fairly. I suspect that the idea he abuses his employees is way overblown. I believe Amazon is the second largest employer in the US (behind Walmart) and they are bound to have a few employees that don’t like the experience. Amazon makes too much money to risk abusing its employees. It does have to pay market wages and minimize costs. We have mechanisms to reign in any abuses that work pretty well.

      Does Bezos merit his wealth? I think he deserves to be the richest man in America but I do feel that inequality is a big problem. It wouldn’t surprise me if many billionaires would agree. The solution to inequality is not to expect billionaires to act to reduce their income or to give away more of their money to charity. The first is ridiculous and giving away money is currently quite popular with billionaires, including Bezos. As his career winds down, I expect he will give away more. So how do we combat inequality? This has to happen through government policy on taxes and the like. No way should rich people be able to pay zero taxes legally.

      If an entrance exam allowed people to cheat or asked the wrong questions, that wouldn’t be the fault of meritocracy. Similarly with the things you mention here.

    2. The political problem of meritocratic capitalism is the political economy of a poker tournament. Assuming no cheating and fair enforcement of rules in a poker tournament, one person walks away a big winner, a few walk away moderate winners, and most people walk out broke. Everyone is happy to play at the beginning, but if you let the losers vote after its clear they are losers, well, your going to see some participation trophies.

      Capitalism can’t survive as a system without political structures to ameliorate the effects of capitalism and competition. Capitalism unleashes enormous creative and productive energy, which is an enormous good, but unless its excesses are restrained by the State, and citizens feel like they are sharing generally in the prosperity, the system loses political legitimacy. But the solution is never social leveling, as no one actually wants the equality of collective misery.

  11. This whole thing seems to have started with “critical legal studies” (or “the crits,” as they were known in the parlance of the times, if you were into the whole brevity thing, way back when I was in law school, and it was getting its toehold in academe). Thence, it spread out to other areas under the general rubric “doing theory” (as in “Queer Theory” or “Race Theory”). I try to keep a finger on the zeitgeist‘s pulse, so kept abreast of it for a while, but lost interest for a couple decades, until it burst through the public consciousness transmogrified into CRT.

    I think the teaching of US history has long been subjected to a general white-washing and that this nation is in need of a racial reckoning. But I don’t think CRT, at least in sensu stricto, is what’s called for and would just as soon see it return to academia whence it sprang.

  12. CRT isn’t a social science “theory” because a scientific theory is falsifiable. In the 19th Century, you had disputes between proponents of Darwinian evolution and Lamarckian evolution, and Darwin won because it better accorded with the evidence.

    CRT is an ideology or a creed. Deniers of the creed are infidels, heretics or racists. CRT is based on faith. Because its suppositions cannot be subjected to empirical examination (that would be racist), they can only be accepted or rejected on faith, like the Virgin Birth. Further, like religion, loyalty to the creed is demonstrated through performative acts of virtue showing your commitment to the cause, much like Christians gather together to affirm the Creeds of the Church and to demonstrate their virtue together in ritual. Scientists don’t have to gather publicly to demonstrate their unswerving loyalty to the truth of Newton’s Laws (which are now getting renamed because their “racist”).

    It is clearly a secular faith like Maoism, and like Maoism, its a fundamentally anti-intellectual and anti-scientific endeavor. It is clear to me that the trans enthusiasm will end in class action lawsuits like the repressed memory movement. It is not clear how CRT ends, unless we embrace CRT the way China embraced the Cultural Revolution and set our country back 20 years in science and technology, send real intellectuals to the country, destroy the lives and careers of honest public servants and otherwise destroy the country. Then you will get a rightist reversal of verdicts if their isn’t a civil war or foreign conquest. However, it strikes me that America has a lot of smart people and is not a Communist dictatorship, so maybe someone in the leadership class will decide that pointing a loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger is a bad idea.

  13. The Moral Majority or the Religious Right was fundamentally an illiberal identitarian political movement, even if it was not based primarily on racial identity. It was a threat to the liberal order from the right.

    CRT, wokeness and the rest of the racial reductionist brain salad are fundamentally an illiberal identitarian political movement which is primarily based on racial identity (and racial allyship). It is a threat to the liberal order from the left.

    Sceptics, atheists, people of reason did a nice job of knocking out the Religious Right. That same energy needs to be used to destroy wokeness or you will end up with the same kinds of restrictions on science and technology and freedom of inquiry that you would have ended up with had the Religious Right won.

    1. I don’t think we’ve beaten the Religious Right yet. The Religious Right were a major factor in bringing the world POTUS Trump. Not to mention all of the machinations that the RP has been busy at for the past 30 years or more to subvert democracy at both the state and Federal level.

      1. You may be correct, but they haven’t really been going from victory to victory have they? I think that the Four Horsemen, Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Dennett, did a pretty solid job of influencing public opinion against political Christian Fundamentalism in the early 21st century.

  14. In the West, there is no slavery of blacks. That is a history lesson in the West. The slavery of blacks only exists in Africa, in black and brown (Muslims in Sudan) populations. Would love to hear a crt supporters interpretation of these current day events.

  15. It would be useful if first we defined what is meant by ‘racism’. I make this point because it seems to me it can have at least five different meanings:
    Type 1 ‘racism’ is the belief that some ethnic groups are intrinsically i.e., genetically superior to others who are deemed to be inferior. This is the racism of the Nazis, though advances in human genetics have shown it to be without any foundation, it still has its adherents today.
    Type 2 is the view that certain cultural beliefs and practices are primitive and inferior. The stoning of women for sex outside marriage (which in extreme cases can include being raped), the execution of those who change their religion, the amputation of limbs for theft, and the execution of homosexuals by throwing them off high buildings, and forced marriage, are regarded by decent people as primitive and barbaric and, in this respect, I’m happy to be labeled a ‘Type 2 racist.’
    Type 3 is so common that it can almost be called ‘normal.’ It’s the tendency of people to prefer to associate with others with similar cultural beliefs and values. When immigration is faster than assimilation, members of the host society may feel that they are losing their identity amid an alien culture. I well remember that, traveling on a bus in Bradford, Yorkshire, thirty-odd years ago, I could not hear English being spoken amid a sea of Urdu and other languages. To a person whose first language is English—particularly someone who is unemployed, it’s understandable to blame his or her misfortunes on immigrants. Indeed, it is arguably the refusal of politicians to listen to such concerns that has led to Brexit and the rise of the Far Right.
    Type 4 is the tendency to judge an entire group by the actions of a few and is, unfortunately, all-too common. Being assaulted by someone with dark skin is enough, in some people’s minds, to paint all brown-skinned people with the same brush. It works the other way, too, of course. I remember reading a comment that “all whites are racists.” Both are intellectual shortcuts, relieving one of the effort to think.
    Type 5 is commonly called ‘inverted racism’ or ‘cultural exemption’ because certain cultural groups are considered to be exempt from behavioural standards expected of the rest of society. It is clearly exemplified by people who claim to support equal rights for women but who refuse to criticize practices such as stoning, forced marriage (a form of rape), and female genital mutilation.

  16. I think CRT/blaming white supremacism has a strong element of American Exceptionalism/ Eurocentricity.
    Racism, as defined that your own race is somehow better or superior, is ubiquitous. And institutionalised racism is also wide spread. It is not confined to the ‘West’ or whites at all.

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