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Critiquing, Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory

President Donald Trump recently banned federal agencies from conducting racial sensitivity training related to “white privilege” and “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) that Trump says amounts to “divisive and anti-American propaganda.

Citing “press reports,” Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, decried the “millions of taxpayer dollars” spent on such programs “across the Executive Branch” in a two-page memo. Such training “not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce,” Vought wrote, adding that “we cannot accept our employees receiving training that seeks to undercut our core values as Americans and drive division within our workforce.”

In this light, one might ask, just what is this CRT? In the public domain, CRT is a recent phenomenon. But it actually is old and has been around a long while. Before it was considered a radical fringe idea – now it has gone mainstream. It is the key ideology driving much of the Black Live Matter protests/riots we see across the nation today. Let’s get into it – from our leftist leaning folks over at Wikipedia, here is what they say it is all about:

CRT a theoretical framework in the social sciences that examines society and culture as they relate to categorizations of race, law, and power. Developed out of postmodern philosophy, it is based on critical theory, a social philosophy that argues that social problems are influenced and created more by societal structures and cultural assumptions – rather than by individual and psychological factors (note the reference to societal structures vs. the individual).

According to the UCLA School of Public Affairs: CRT recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture. This is the analytical lens that CRT uses in examining existing power structures. CRT identifies that these power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color.

CRT is unified by two common themes. Firstly, CRT proposes that white supremacy and racial power are maintained over time, and in particular, that the law may play a role in this process. Secondly, CRT work has investigated the possibility of transforming the relationship between law and racial power, as well as pursuing a project of achieving racial emancipation and anti-subordination more broadly.

Here is a brief summary video on CRT:

Derrick Bell is the father of CRT. He was an American lawyer, professor, and civil rights, activist. In 1971, he became the first tenured African-American professor of law at Harvard Law School, and he is often credited as one of the originators of critical race theory along with Richard Delgado, Charles Lawrence, Mari Matsuda, and Patricia Williams. Bell also wrote science fiction short stories, including “The Space Traders“, a story in which white Americans trade black Americans to space aliens in order to pay off the national debt and receive advanced technology such as environmental decontaminants and alternatives to fossil fuels. On October 5, 2011, Bell died from carcinoid cancer, at the age of 80.

Some legal scholars have criticized CRT on a number of grounds, such as CRT scholars’ reliance on narrative and storytelling, or CRT’s critique of lack of objectivity. “Critical” theory derives from the use of the term critique by Immanuel Kant (18th century), in his Critique of Pure Reason; and Karl Marx (19th century), through the concept that his Das Kapital forms a “critique of political economy.” CRT is a mere extension of these philosophers. Hence, CRT has its origins in Marxism.

Here are a few videos that address the issues and argumentations against CRT and its fundamental assertion of “white privilege/supremacy:”

Imagine CRT indoctrination in our military (clip starts at 5:57-16:50):

CRT seems to be the “topic de jour.” One can Google CRT and find many books, articles, and videos on the topic. A lot of material to sort through. Again, it is relevant today, as it is at the core ideological beliefs driving the Black Lives Matter protests/riots that are pervasive across many American cities and the currently ongoing 2020 political debate. When we go out and about in society, you may come across this subject in your public political dialogue. We thought we would put on the thinking cap to try to boil down into an elevator pitch what CRT is and the arguments against it.

CRT assumes that an in-group[1] has nefariously, or even accidentally via bias, has made rules that only help them. However, if an individual from an out-group[2] adopts those same rules and can be just as successful[3], this would imply the rules established by the in-group are just for all groups[4], which should be the goals of any ruleset[5] for all groups. CRT sees differences in outcomes in specific out-groups, and instead of out-group individual behavioral improvements[6], they destroy the merit base system in favor of redistributionist policies to achieve outcome equality as a group. Hence, CRT would debase all groups to the lowest common denominator, which matches CRT’s ideological origins – Marxism[7].

Reference notes:

[1]: in-group refers to the majority class in society. In today’s discourse, this would refer to “whites, though this definition for some would dispute.

[2]: out-group refers to the effected minority class(es) in society. In today’s discourse, this would refer to “people of color,” though this definition for some would dispute.

[3]: when looking at out-groups outcomes, CRT assumes that the majority successes only can come from group actions and not individual actions.  

[4]: there will always be an in-group in a society. What one would expect from the in-group is to ensure that any laws created would be equal to all groups. Any deviations to this idea will inevitably create distortions in societal outcomes, thereby exacerbating any differences.

[5]: ruleset refers to any legal differences in law applied between groups. During the time of slavery and Jim Crow, one could argue that there were legal differences. Today this is not the case. 

[6]: behavioral improvements on an individual basis are negated by CRT – obviating in individual responsibility.

[7]: socialism having roots in Marxism, is the idea of redistributing resources from individuals to others to achieve equality in outcomes. It is a direct attack on free-market capitalism, which is at the core of American ideology – a merit-based society.

President Trump has received a lot of criticism for the banning of CRT training for federal employees. Trump has called these training sessions “un-American.” In a memo published, he emphasized that President Trump has a proven track record of standing up for all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or creed. If there are laws on the books that favor one group over the other based on race, conservatives stand ready to change. But this should be based on the individual with respect to society. President Trump said recently in an interview that he believed the activist group Black Lives Matter was a “Marxist group.” He further stated that the United States would never become a socialist country in his 2019 State of the Union address.

 RWR original article syndication source.

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