The discussion of Critical Race Theory (CRT) is permeating multiple levels of conversation. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley testified yesterday before Congress defending recent military training that includes CRT by stating “a lot of us have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is.” (The real question is not whether the military is studying CRT but if it is implementing it. And if it is being implemented, what potential impact that might have on our military.)
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has indicated that he will include legislation related to banning the teaching of CRT in Texas public schools during the upcoming special session. CRT is fast becoming America’s new institutional orthodoxy so we need to know what it is.
Introduction to CRT
CRT began as an academic combination of Marxist Critical Theory (CT) ideology with race relations. CRT theorists hold that the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist because they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African-Americans.
While no single definition exists for CRT and some of the tenets change (which makes it very difficult to debate the issue) many scholars agree on the centrality of five major components: (1) the notion that racism is ordinary and not aberrational; (2) the idea of an interest convergence; (3) the social construction of race; (4) the idea of storytelling and counter-storytelling; and (5) the notion that whites have actually been recipients of civil rights legislation.
CRT has many underlying sub-branches of theory and may be referred to as CRT, Equity, Social Justice, Diversity & Inclusion or Culturally Responsible Teaching. But the branches will all include the following:
- Racial Essentialism – race is the most important thing about you
- Blood guilt – individuals are responsible for the past and present acts of other people, simply because they share the same race
- Tribal politics – individuals must band together in race tribes to take political action
- Whiteness theory – all white people are alike in that they are all white supremacists and oppressors
- Segregation – people of color should separate from white people because white people are harmful to be around.
History of CRT
Critical race theory (CRT) is a descendent of Marxist critical theory (CT), a school of philosophy that began in Frankfurt, Germany, in the 1920s and 1930s at the University of Frankfurt’s Institute for Social Research. It became known as “the Frankfurt School.” It was one of the first, if not the first, Western Marxist schools patterned after the Marx– Engels Institute in Moscow
In explaining critical race theory, it helps to begin with a brief history of Marxism. Originally, the Marxist Left built its political program on the theory of class conflict. Marx believed that the primary characteristic of industrial societies was the imbalance of power between capitalists and workers. The solution to that imbalance, according to Marx, was revolution: the workers would eventually gain consciousness of their plight, seize the means of production, overthrow the capitalist class, and usher in a new socialist society.
Introduction of CRT into the U.S.
Marxist scholars in the West adapted their revolutionary theory to the social and racial unrest of the 1960s. Abandoning Marx’s economic examination of opposing positions between capitalists and workers, they substituted race for class and sought to create a revolutionary coalition based on racial and ethnic categories.
Spreading CT philosophy into the United States proved difficult in the 1960s, primarily due to the American middle class that believed the key to improving your standard of living comes from education, hard work and community support. Hence, the entry point for CT became the racial unrest between whites and blacks. But the Marxist inroads lost out at the time due to the Civil Rights Movement that provided equality under the law combined with anti-poverty efforts. CT proponents went back to the drawing board and revived the most radical elements from their origins and reintroduced it as CRT in the late 1980’s.
To understand CRT, you have to recognize that the end goal (implementing Marxism) has not changed. What has changed is the means – racial identity.
Equality vs Equity
CRT promotes equity over equality. What is the difference?
Equality seeks to protect individual rights, regardless of race, and provide for equal opportunity protections under the law. The basis of equality in the United States is derived from the 14th Amendment, 15th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
Equity divides the world into competing racial groups and implements race-based equality of outcomes.
To achieve equity, author Cheryl Harris in her book “Whiteness as Property” calls for suspending private property rights, seizing land and wealth from the rich to provide race-based redistributions.
Concepts that are rejected by modern CRT in addition to private property rights and individual rights are colorblindness and meritocracy (government or the holding of power by people selected on the basis of their ability.) An example of replacing meritocracy (excellence) with diversity would be the recent decision by United Airlines to use race and gender-based quotas to select pilots rather than skill.
Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist and arguably the most influential CRT public intellectual, has proposed a Department of Antiracism, unaccountable to the legislative, executive and judicial branches, with the power to nullify, veto or abolish any law. This 4th branch of government would be able to silence speech of political leaders and intellectuals not deemed “antiracist”. It would abolish capitalism and replace it with collectivism.
Kendi also claims: “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
Premise vs Conclusion
CRT premise: America has a history of slavery, racism and injustice and we should examine the relationship between racism, power and society.
This is undoubtedly TRUE.
CRT conclusion: the American regime is irredeemably racist and must be overthrown through moral, political and economic revolution.
This is undoubtedly FALSE.
You can agree with the premise of CRT but reject the conclusion. CRT is a political program where the solution is identity-based Marxism repackaged with 1960 style. It is not a program of reform but rather a program of destruction. CRT is designed to divide people rather than unite them and to tear down our existing institutions and replace them with institutions grounded in Marxism.
OK or not OK?
Do you agree or disagree with CRT? A good way to answer that question is to address these examples of CRT policies in practice in the U.S. today:
Is it ok or not ok to:
- Separate 3rd graders into oppressed and oppressor groups
- Support curriculum teaching “all white people” perpetuate systemic racism
- Support schools instructing white parents to become “white traitors” and advocate for white abolition.
- Believe counter-genocide is a solution to America’s problems.
- Categorize Columbus Day, American immigration law, believing people are “part of a human family”, “Make America Great Again”, mass incarceration, denying white privilege, believing America is “post racist” as types of “racism” and “white supremacy”.
Why Christianity and CRT Cannot Coexist
Critical race theory sees oppression based on skin color as society’s main problem and the transformation of structures and systems as solutions. The scriptures, by contrast, see sin as humanity’s main problem and faith in Jesus Christ as the only solution. The tension between these two competing worldviews is a central theme of “Fault Lines,” by Dr. Voddie Baucham Jr., Pastor and Dean of the School of Divinity at the African Christian University, Lusaka, Zambia.
CRT views the church as an oppressive institution which needs to be torn down and replaced. Embracing CRT would require individuals to reject how God has created them. Shaming someone for being born white rejects the truth that “God wove me together in my mother’s womb, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, a marvelous work of God’s hand.” Psalm 139:13-15
CRT allows no room for forgiveness or repentance or the ability to be changed through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation of equality. It is open to everyone. There is no segregation or discrimination.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16
God is able to change how we think.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
The sin of racism, whether expressed through ethnic hatred or partiality, is a problem of the human heart. Its solution is the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the work of antiracism. Christ has the power to transform hearts.
“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19
We are responsible for our own sin, not the collective sin of others.
“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” Ezekiel 18:20
Spread of CRT
CRT has spread to universities, government agencies, public schools, teacher training, corporate HR departments, churches and non-profits. It’s in our school curriculum, public policy, corporate compliance and diversity training. Conservatives and moderates remained silent as institutions became dogmatic, intolerant, suspicious and hostile to a diversity of beliefs. Any opposition is labeled as white fragility, unconscious bias or internalized white supremacy.
Time to Speak Up
NBC reporter Brandy Zadrozny complained on MSNBC that concerned parents are using Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests to learn about what their children are being taught in school. Parents absolutely are entitled and need to know what their children are being taught.
Parents … you need to speak up. Contact your elected officials and insist that they oppose any teaching of CRT in the Texas school system. Opposing CRT does NOT mean banning teaching about racism and history. History can be taught “all warts”, “no warts” or “warts and all”. We need to be teaching our history “warts and all”, but the classroom and the state education system is not the place for political agendas.
Employees need to speak out against corporate diversity training that includes elements of CRT. Our Constitution protects against discrimination in all forms. Policymakers need to be encouraged to reject the tenets of critical race theory and orient public policy toward rebuilding the institutions of family, education and work for Americans of all racial backgrounds.
True equality will be achieved by maximizing the ability of Americans to become self-sufficient, not by dividing Americans on the basis of race and apportioning resources based on skin color.