Here follows a reprint of a column from 2014, which I thought pertinent to the tumults preoccupying current headlines. I here add only the comment that the remarks below pertain only to those foolishly but honestly deceived by the slogans of the masters.
It’s been very hard to pin down just what Critical Race Theory actually is. A lot of the proposed definitions and descriptions seem to be formulated by people with axes to grind, and the rest seem flexible enough that they can be stretched to include or exclude anything desired. Trying to decide whether CRT is being taught (or used) in a school is like trying to nail Kool-Aid to a wall.
These may be useful toward a serious understanding.
First, William Galston writes,
Critical race theory is an explicitly left-wing movement inspired by the thinking of an Italian neo-Marxist, Antonio Gramsci. Against classic Marxism, for which material conditions are primary, Gramsci (1891-1937) focused on “hegemony”—the system of beliefs that “reinforces existing social arrangements and convinces the dominated classes that the existing order is inevitable,” as Ms. Crenshaw puts it.
Noteworthy because Galston is center-left. He is burning some bridges here.
Rather than quibbling over whether what critics are criticising is really the theories that emerged in legal studies from the 1970s, let’s address the reality of what critical theories of race look like right now and how they are impacting real people of all races.
In much of the essay, Pluckrose really gets into the theoretical weeds, even though she points out that a different CRT has been popularized than what was created in academia. This reminds me of Keynesian economics in grad school, where there were all sorts of esoteric discussions of what Keynes really meant and what Keynesian economics ought to be. Meanwhile, what took hold in the press and in public policy is what I call “folk” Keynesianism, which is nothing more than “spending creates jobs, and jobs create spending.” The academic arguments matter only to the academics.
Similarly, I expect that academic discussions of critical race theory no longer affect “folk” critical race theory, or FCRT, if you will. FCRT is what K-12 teachers and journalists carry with them. I think it includes a belief in the moral inferiority of white males. It includes a belief that “privilege” is a very important concept. I think it includes some Puritan sensibilities, particularly an unforgiving stance regarding heretics. But these are tentative thoughts about FCRT. I do not feel confident that I have it pinned down yet.
Source: Two CRT links
There’s a liberal way to fight illiberalism. And it’s beginning to work.
The stories in the mainstream media this past week about the broadening campaign to ban critical race theory in public schools have been fascinating — and particularly in how they describe what CRT is. Here’s the Atlantic’s benign summary of CRT: “recent reexaminations of the role that slavery and segregation have played in American history and the attempts to redress those historical offenses.” NBC News calls it the “academic study of racism’s pervasive impact.” NPR calls CRT: “teaching about the effects of racism.” The New York Times calls it, with a straight face, “classroom discussion of race, racism” and goes on to describe it as a “framework used to look at how racism is woven into seemingly neutral laws and institutions.”
How on earth could merely teaching students about the history of racism and its pervasiveness in the United States provoke such a fuss? No wonder Charles Blow is mystified. But don’t worry. The MSM have a ready explanation: the GOP needs an inflammatory issue to rile their racist base, and so this entire foofaraw is really just an astro-turfed, ginned-up partisan gambit about nothing. The MSM get particular pleasure in ridiculing parents who use the term “critical race theory” as shorthand for things that just, well, make them uncomfortable — when the parents obviously have no idea what CRT really is.
When pushed to describe it themselves, elite journalists refer to the legal theories Derrick Bell came up with, in the 1970s — obscure, esoteric and nothing really to do with high-school teaching. “If your kid is learning CRT, your kid is in law/grad school,” snarked one. Marc Lamont Hill even tried to pull off some strained references to Gramsci to prove his Marxian intellectual cred, and to condescend to his opponents.
This rubric achieves several things at once. It denies that there is anything really radical or new about CRT; it flatters the half-educated; it blames the controversy entirely on Republican opportunism; and it urges all fair-minded people to defend intellectual freedom and racial sensitivity against these ugly white supremacists.
And no, 6-year-olds are not being taught Derrick Bell — or forced to read Judith Butler, or God help them, Kimberlé Crenshaw. Of course they aren’t — and I don’t know anyone who says they are.
But they are being taught popularized terms, new words, and a whole new epistemology that is directly downstream of academic critical theory. Ibram X. Kendi even has an AntiRacist Baby Picture Book so you can indoctrinate your child into the evil of whiteness as soon as she or he can gurgle. It’s a little hard to argue that CRT is not interested in indoctrinating kids when its chief proponent in the US has a kiddy book on the market.
The goal of education of children this young is to cement the notion at the most formative age that America is at its core an oppressive racist system uniquely designed to exploit, harm, abuse, and even kill the non-white. This can be conveyed in easy terms, by training kids to see themselves first and foremost as racial avatars, and by inculcating in them a sense of their destiny as members of the oppressed or oppressor classes in the zero-sum struggle for power that is American society in 2021.
This is not teaching about critical race theory; it is teaching in critical race theory. And it is compulsory and often hidden from parents. It contradicts the core foundations of our liberal society; and is presented not as one truth to be contrasted with others, but as the truth, the basis on which all other truths are built. That’s why teaching based on CRT will make children see themselves racially from the get-go, why it will separate them into different racial groups, why it will compel white kids to internalize their complicity in evil, tell black kids that all their troubles are a function of white people, banish objective measurements of success to avoid stigmatizing failure, and treat children of different races differently in a classically racist hierarchy.
And this is why — crucially — it will suppress any other way of seeing the world — because any other way, by definition, is merely perpetuating oppression. As Kendi constantly reminds us, it is either/or. An antiracist cannot exist with a liberalism that perpetuates racism. And it’s always the liberalism that has to go.
What parents and principled teachers of all races can do is protest, show up to school board meetings, demand accountability and total transparency, share and spread the evidence of this indoctrination, demand answers from teachers and principals, and, if all else fails, pull their kids from public schools if necessary.
And what the rest of us should do is support them, come to the aid of fired teachers, shaken students, bullied educators, and intimidated mothers and fathers. And never, ever concede the idea that opposing critical race theory is racist. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Insist that you are not attempting to ban CRT but to allow it to be taught as one idea among many in a liberal education. And do not conflate CRT with honest, painful accounts of our history, which can be taught just as well within a liberal context.
The legacy of this country’s profound racism, the deep and abiding shame of its genocidal slavocracy, the atrocities, such as Tulsa, which have been white-washed, the appalling record of lynchings and beatings, the centrality of African-Americans to the story and success of this country: all this must be better explored and understood. There is nothing wrong and a huge amount right about black scholars taking the lead in shining light on what others might miss, building on past knowledge, helping us better account for it. White scholars, like the hundreds of thousands of white citizens who gave their lives to end slavery, have a crucial role to play as well.
But we must also unequivocally insist that all of this is only possible within a liberal system — that sees the individual and reason and equality as our foundations. Liberalism can live with critical race theory; but critical race theory is committed in its foundational texts to the overthrow of liberalism. And this matters.
It’s not just a culture war gambit. It’s a deep defense of our liberal inheritance. Once a generation grows up believing that there is no such thing as reason — just “white thinking” and “black thinking”; once it grows up believing that free speech is a device for oppression not liberation; once it sees our founding documents as cynical lies to perpetuate slavery and “white supremacy”; once it believes that no progress has ever been made in race relations, because the “systems” sustain unaltered “white supremacy” for ever, then we have detonated the foundations of a free society.
The other night on facebook, I found myself in a weird argument with someone who thought there really was white privilege because “you can go anywhere and be treated like a human being.” I’m not 100% sure what he means by “being treated like a human being” because casting a long eye to history and how human beings who ain’t from around here are treated, I’m glad to say I’ve never been — on the mild side — run out of town or killed and thrown in an acid pit.
My sons don’t appear black (well, the younger if he’s tanned, looks half way there, partly because his hair grows upward) but they appear “mixed race” (Human race. We think. Most of the time.) and are both large, swarthy and male. By the time they were in their mid-teens they found that total strangers skeedaddled away from them backwards. Or — poor older son — that they had to argue for hours to get the “honors cords” for their graduation gowns. Or that their departmental honors and second degree wouldn’t be called out at graduation (while the “honors” of the tiny, bespectacled guys and chicks graduating from studies were.” Or that, when found in an area of school/college reserved for serious pursuits, they were questions and in one case told that “you jocks don’t know this.”
What have they done? They’ve mitigated by dressing in slightly old fashioned ways, wearing their hair short, and talking with old-fashioned courtesy.
White privilege? Well, hell no. “Insider privilege.” And you can fake it.
Source: R-E-S-P-E- C-T
ANN ALTHOUSE RESPONDS TO CHARLES BLOW:
If “most people” lack “any real concept of what critical race theory is,” then why don’t Democrats and others communicate the information? Instead, as Blow describes in his column, Republicans use the term to generate anxiety about what those terrible left-wingers want to do to us.
I challenge proponents of Critical Race Theory to speak to ordinary people in terms they can understand and explain the theory, why it’s a theory, and what is meant by “critical.” Don’t just tell us conclusions and demand that we accept them and don’t just introduce another confusing term. That is, don’t just say that there is “systemic racism.” Explain the theory and what is critical about the theory.
Why can’t that be done clearly and straightforwardly? People are right to feel anxious and suspicious about something so big and powerful that can’t be talked about. To say “In fact, I don’t even believe that most people have any real concept of what critical race theory is” is to blame the people for failing to understand what isn’t being discussed clearly. That’s perverse and elitist.
Well, most “woke” stuff is perverse and elitist. And Critical Race Theory can’t be discussed clearly and straightforwardly because if it were, the vast majority of people would reject it. Hence the smoke and mirrors and charges of bigotry aimed at critics in place of reasoned argument.
Related, the Critical Race Theory Motte and Bailey:
I have a theory why the left is pushing the whole LGBTQ+ thing with such fervor — and it definitely has to do with remaking society. In the past few years, the two most obsessive issues to emerge from the left have been the racism that they call “anti-racism” and the relentless focus on the LGBTQ+ agenda.
I know that the facile answer is that it’s just another socialist attack on America, but I’ve still been struggling to understand why it’s become so incredibly important. I’ve come up with a few answers:
- It’s more attractive and fun than BLM. BLM is about hatred, oppression, and destruction. The whole “pride” thing is about rainbows and music. It’s easier to sell to kids.
- It’s pleasantly hedonistic. The big sell of gay sex has always been that it’s theoretically consequence-free sex because there’s no pregnancy involved. All the pleasure, none of the issues with abortions, raising children, child maintenance costs, etc.
- It is the single issue that can entirely destroy Western culture because it’s a natural behavior.
Wait! What? Did you just go from bright colors and hedonism to the entire destruction of Western culture based on a natural behavior? Yes. Yes, I did.
You see, I got to thinking about Sodom and Gomorrah, and about why the Jewish Bible is so hostile to homosexuality, a hostility that infused Western culture for 2,000 years, ever since Jesus brought the Bible to the people who became known as Christians. Let me walk you through my thinking.
Western culture has tended to think of homosexuality as aberrant. However, the fact that so many young people today claim to be on the LGBTQ+ spectrum shows that humans can actually embrace it pretty readily. When it comes to sexual pleasure, the body isn’t that discriminating. For many people, if they close their eyes, all they know is that someone is making their bodies happy.
As I long ago figured out when growing up and working in the Bay Area, the gay lifestyle offered huge bennies: A two-income, high-earning couple; no children and no risk of children; and unlimited sexual relations (because monogamy was very rare among those two-income, high-earning couples). The downsides of sexually transmitted diseases, which were rife in the 1970s, seemed minimal in an antibiotic era. It was only AIDS that stopped the party. In other words, even coming out of the “patriarchal” 1950s and early 1960s, there were a lot of people who easily embraced the gay lifestyle.
And that got me thinking about the ancient world, the world from which the story of Sodom and Gomorrah emerged. Homosexuality was not aberrant at all in that world. It was pretty normative. As the Greeks showed, you had gay sex for pleasure and heterosexual sex for procreation. Many pagan societies had no issue at all with the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Indeed, the LGBTQ+ intelligentsia like to focus on the naturalness of homosexuality and transgenderism in the pagan world (and even in Islam) before the artificial constraints of Christianity and Wahabbism squashed it. And believe me, the kids are being taught this.
I have been looking through the Stith-Thompson index of folk motifs. Among the motifs covered are a multitude dealing with marriage, and a multitude dealing with jokes and humor. Nowhere is same-sex marriage ever mentioned. So even conceding the naturalness of same-sex sex, I suspect you’re going to have to look long and hard for any culture that actually countenanced marriage between two people of the same sex.
So the issue of same-sex sexuality is entirely hedonistic, and has nothing to do with marriage.
“Tracing the history of critical race theory reveals just how intimately connected it is with America’s most prestigious university.” The post first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion .
We cover Critical Race Theory as it appears in schools today, but don’t often focus on the history behind it.
Kenny Xu of The Federalist writes about the beginnings of it all at Harvard.
According to Furman University Professor of Education Dr. Michael Jennings, critical race theory “came directly out of law at Harvard, which Bell was a major part of.” In 1973, Bell authored a textbook entitled “Race, Racism, and American Law,” in which he contended the American legal system was implicitly racist and must be deconstructed to bring about racial equity. He used the textbook in his law classes, teaching race essentialism and an inchoate critical race theory to his Harvard law students for decades.
As the origins of our current moral panic about “white supremacy” become more widely debated, we have an obvious problem: how to define the term “Critical Race Theory.” This was never going to be easy, since so much of the academic discourse behind the term is deliberately impenetrable, as it tries to disrupt and dismantle the Western concept of discourse itself. The sheer volume of jargon words, and their mutual relationships, along with the usual internal bitter controversies, all serve to sow confusion. . . .
In his forthcoming book, “The Constitution of Knowledge,” Jonathan Rauch lays out some core principles that liberal societies rely upon. These are not optional if liberal society is to survive. And they are not easy, which is why we have created many institutions and practices to keep them alive. Rauch lists some of them: fallibilism, the belief that anyone, especially you, can always be wrong; objectivity, a rejection of any theory that cannot be proven or disproven by reality; accountability, the openness to conceding and correcting error; and pluralism, the maintenance of intellectual diversity so we maximize our chances of finding the truth.
The only human civilization that has ever depended on these principles is the modern West since the Enlightenment. That’s a few hundred years as opposed to 200,000 or so of Homo sapiens’ history, when tribalism, creedalism, warfare, theocracy or totalitarianism reigned. . . .
My central problem with critical theory is that it takes precise aim at these very core principles and rejects them. By rejecting them, in the otherwise noble cause of helping the marginalized, it is a very seductive and potent threat to liberal civilization.
It’s not in a noble cause. It just pretends to be. It is in fact about gaining and retaining power through the deliberate employment of bigotry.
I’ve wondered if it’s worth sharing “my story.” I’m a pretty private person so it feels weird to share. But I think it�s worth it bc we all need encouragement that ordinary ppl can do something about what�s happening to our country. So, why do I talk about Woke stuff?
The Woke Mob: my survival story
My husband and I co-founded a justice-oriented non-profit org 11 years ago. At the time, we knew nothing about Critical Social Justice or Critical Theory. Our motivation was to address disparities in mental health care. 1/
We�d learned that lay people (ppl without clinical training) made up the majority of trauma care providers around the world working with vulnerable populations (refugees, human trafficking survivors, etc). We wanted to help equip those lay people with good resources. 2/
We hired clinically trained mental health professionals to develop our curriculum, oversee MEL, and run the international training program. Everything went great for about 7 years. We got accolades from all the right people in academia and partnered with orgs in 50+ countries. 3/
Then a few years ago we noticed a tone shift among our program staff. They became hyper-critical of *everything.* As Executive Director, my husband felt he was always on trial. Every word and action was scrutinized. We couldn’t figure out where this was coming from. 4/
We noticed shared rhetoric among the staff. Terms we heard often:
“systems of power and oppression”
Didn’t understand the ideology behind it, started doing some reading. 5/
Then the open letters started. The letters always went to everyone in the org (from the graphic designer to the governing board), they always asserted vaguely that the organization was “causing harm,” and they always ended with demands. We were alarmed and confused. 6/
We began having all-org sessions trying to discern what was happening and what was needed. It was quickly apparent there were no specific actions or incidents that could be deemed harmful. The accusations were always vague and abstract, about “identities”, “systems,” etc. 7/
What also became apparent quickly was they didn’t want to resolve any real harm. They wanted control of the organization. They stated explicitly my husband was incapable of running an org that addresses trauma (an org he founded!) bc he’s straight, white, male, and Christian. 8/
That’s when I learned to fight. I’d been doing my homework for a while. Thanks to people like @NeilShenvi, @ConceptualJames, @wokal_distance, @WokeTemple, @D_B_Harrison and @realchrisrufo, I knew what we were facing. It was an attempted woke subversion of the organization. 9/
I wrote organizational position papers on how Critical Social Justice compromised our work by being in direct conflict with a number of our organizational commitments, namely, being evidence-based, valuing the individual, cultural humility, and allowing for true diversity. 10/
Maybe I shouldn’t be proud of it, but I also learned to use their woke rules against them. When a staff member said I couldn�t speak to a topic bc I’m straight, I told her it was wrong of her to assume about my sexuality just bc I’m married to a man. She immediately groveled. 11/
After some months, when it was clear to them we wouldn’t budge, the ones making demands left “on moral grounds,” accusing us of every phobia and calling the org “white supremacist.” We’ve always partnered with ppl of every ethnicity, creed and identity, so this is laughable. 12/
Having survived an attempted power grab and character assassination by a woke mob, I’ll say it’s painful to be mistreated by ppl you trusted. But if you care more about maintaining your integrity than what people think or say about you, you�ll emerge with your dignity intact. 13/
Don�t apologize for vague accusations of “harm.” It’s not a fair fight. They don’t want dialogue. Expose their inconsistencies – show how their demands won�t achieve what they claim to care about (helping the poor, etc). It’ll require some reading and a lot of courage. 14/
If you don’t fight this nonsense now, wherever it’s showing up in your community, there�ll be nothing good, true, or beautiful to defend soon. We will be ruled by lies and power while being told we�re progressing toward truth and justice. 15/
Open war is upon us, there is no “safe” any more. Choose which kind of “unsafe” you want. Fighting lies is always preferable to being ruled by them. I believe they can be defeated. I believe the truth will prevail.
Thanks for reading my story, I’d love to hear yours. 16/16
We’ve discussed Critical Race Theory many times on this blog. But it’s easy to forget that it’s still not exactly a household word, even though it’s been dominating so much of the current turmoil, and has found its way into schools both private and public. It’s one of the most dangerous and divisive philosophies that has ever hit this country, and people need to learn what it is and why it needs to be fought.
Here’s the article. It’s long, but that’s true of just about any treatment of CRT, and this one is shorter than many. There’s really no time to spare in getting the word out.