The left is abandoning Critical Race Theory—at least in name. At least for now.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) was always a lie. It places resentments, distortions and prejudices at the center of a historical “narrative” and embroiders a new pseudo-history around them, favoring class struggle.
The eminent Italian historian Roberto de Mattei sums up this impulse well. “In history’s ages of confusion, along with the crisis of authority, there comes an overshadowing of the truth. Lacking points of reference, the common man replaces the truth with his own opinion, loading it with all the passion available to every soul that seeks the absolute.”
Indeed, some CRT proponents have dubbed the search for absolute truth a sign of “toxic whiteness.” They prize their own resentments and opinions so highly that they cannot tolerate truth—or even other interpretations of the facts.
Such an attitude was on full display during a recent episode of MSNBC’s The Reid Out. The host, Joy Reid, interviewed Christopher Rufo—an outspoken critic of CRT. Mr. Rufo is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and had directed four films for the PBS.
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Mrs. Reid immediately took Mr. Rufo to task because he had referred to Ibram X. Kendi—the author of How to Be an Anti-Racist—as a Critical Race theorist.
Before allowing Mr. Rufo to defend his assertion, Mrs. Reid began quoting a statement made to her by Dr. Kendi.
“I admire Critical race theory, but I don’t identify as a critical race theorist.”
This statement is curious, as Dr. Kendi’s book has been a primary source for school systems implementing CRT in their classrooms. The basis of his defense is even more obtuse.
“I’m not a legal scholar. So I wasn’t trained on critical race theory. I’m a historian. And Chris [Rufo] would know this if he actually read my work or understood that critical race theory is taught in law schools. I didn’t attend law school, which is where critical race theory is taught.”
Mrs. Reid claimed that Dr. Kendi’s assertion settled the matter for all time. Mr. Rufo declined to accept this line of reasoning.
Mr. Rufo then tried to cite two others whose books and public statements placed them alongside Dr. Kendi in the forefront of the CRT movement—Barbara Applebaum, author of Being White, Being Good: White Complicity, White Moral Responsibility, and Social Justice Pedagogy and Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility.
Mrs. Reid then denied that any of them are Critical Race theorists. When Mr. Rufo tried to defend his point, Mrs. Reid responded with logic that would be familiar to any first-grade student. “No, they’re not. They’re not. They’re just not.”
The interview went on for almost ten minutes but never really progressed beyond that point.
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Two points within that interview were curious.
First, Critical Race Theory is not a legal doctrine. Law schools may teach it, but it springs from the world of sociology. More specifically, it developed in university African-American Studies departments. Its roots lie in Critical Theory and the work of Frankfurt School theorist Max Horkheimer.
The second curious point is that the three authors cited proudly bore the CRT banner as schools purchased their books and translated their contentions into the curriculum. In fact, a couple of days before the Reid-Rufo faceoff, Dr. Kendi and his associate Keisha Blain took turns supporting the use of CRT in the military on Morning Joe, another MSNBC program.
Backing Away in Unison
A similar metamorphosis may be taking place at Education Week—the educationists’ trade journal and consistent promoter of CRT. However, a recent article about the resistance to CRT carried the headline, “Adults Are Banning Classroom Topics. Perhaps They Should Allow Students to Explore Them?” Where does the phrase “classroom topics” originate? Why not simply refer to CRT as the idea being “banned?”
The article discusses CRT as an obsession of the critics. “Unfortunately, some issues are being barred from school. What are the adults so fearful of that they need to bar issues from being taught in schools when it’s those very students who can help us solve them?”
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A recent story from Tennessee is increasingly typical. The Nashville public schools announced that the system does not plan to implement CRT. Only a few days before, Nashville school’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion officer tweeted, “I hope we can increase the debate around what Critical Race Theory actually is by reading the scholarly works that have been written by leaders of the theory for over 30 plus years.”
So, why is the left backing away from the Critical Race Theory label?
A Millstone Around the Radicals’ Necks
Simply put, CRT has become a lightning rod for the education system’s critics. According to Education Week’s regularly updated map, twenty-five states have considered, are considering, or have passed anti-CRT legislation or administrative action.
Even many ordinarily liberal people have come out against CRT. Fairfax County, Virginia, lies just outside of the District of Columbia. It is one of the most liberal counties in the nation, 69.89 percent of its voters cast ballots for Mr. Biden in the 2020 election. Yet, parents and teachers have besieged its school board, protesting the removal of academic standards in precisely the manner prescribed by CRT proponents. In nearby Loudoun County, discord over CRT has become a movement to recall the school board’s members. Almost 150,000 watched a YouTube video of the recall group’s recent press conference within a week of its release.
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Radicals believed that they could use the unrest connected with the death of George Floyd to implement the radical CRT agenda—one upon which they had labored for decades. It would solidify the gains made by radical educators like Howard Zinn and Bill Ayres—the former Weather Underground leader and retired University of Illinois professor. The New York Times’s “1619 Project” was supposed to be the movement’s crowning achievement.
That move was derailed, at least in part because parents could see the intellectual lies peddled to their children as they came into homes via the aberration known as “distance learning.”
Without any question, Critical Race Theory has become an albatross for the leftists—and that is a clear victory for those who believe that schools should teach the young rather than indoctrinate them. Liberals and activists in many state boards of education are forced to retreat. CRT exposes radical educators to well-deserved ridicule and distrust. This retreat from the CRT label sets the movement back.
Replacing Critical Race Theory
However, this victory is not total. The ideas behind CRT still lurk in the halls of the nation’s university Schools of Education. The radicals are bloodied but not yet eradicated. They are experts at recasting their ideas into more acceptable forms. The order of the day is continued vigilance.
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However, one cannot replace something—however flawed that something may be—with nothing. The secular schools cannot return truth to the classroom because they cannot provide what they never had. Only the ancient truths of the Holy Catholic Church can bring harmony to humanity. Her message of love and concern for all, inspired by the Christian charity, is the only one that brings peace. The Marxist and humanist premises of Critical Race Theory can bring only hatred and division.
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