(For the abbreviated version, read the red text below. For the “War and Peace” version, read to the next Heading 2. For the extreme intellectual masochists, comment below and maybe I can have a buddy quote some Tolstoy in Russian.)
Critical Race Theory (CRT) makes race the prism through which its proponents analyze all aspects of American life—and do so with a degree of persistence that has helped CRT impact all of American life. CRT underpins identity politics, an ongoing effort to reimagine the United States as a nation riven by groups, each with specific claims on victimization. In entertainment, as well as the education and workforce sectors of society, CRT is well-established, driving decision-making according to skin color—not individual value and talent. As Critical Theory ideas become more familiar to the viewing public in everyday life, CRT’s intolerance becomes “normalized,” along with the idea of systemic racism for Americans, weakening public and private bonds that create trust and allow for civic engagement.
As its name should make abundantly clear, Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the child of Critical Theory (CT), or, to be more precise, its grandchild. Critical Theory is the immediate forebearer of Critical Legal Theory (CLT), and CLT begat CRT. As we discuss in this Backgrounder, however, there are strong thematic components linking CT, CLT, and CRT. Among these are:
- The Marxist analysis of society made up of categories of oppressors and oppressed;
- An unhealthy dollop of Nietzschean relativism, which means that language does not accord to an objective reality, but is the mere instrument of power dynamics;
- The idea that the oppressed impede revolution when they adhere to the cultural beliefs of their oppressors—and must be put through re-education sessions;
- The concomitant need to dismantle all societal norms through relentless criticism; and
- The replacement of all systems of power and even the descriptions of those systems with a worldview that describes only oppressors and the oppressed.
Far from being merely esoteric academic exercises, these philosophies have real-life consequences.
CRT scholars likely cite CLT, not CT, as their genesis: “Critical race theory builds on the insights of two previous movements, critical legal studies and radical feminism,” wrote one of architects of CRT, Richard Delgado, with his wife, Jean Stefancic, in perhaps the most widely read primer on CRT, Critical Race Theory, An Introduction.1
Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, 3rd ed. (New York, NY: New York University Press, 2017), p. 5.
Angela P. Harris—also a major early figure of CRT—agrees, though she attributes co-parentage to a different source. She said:
For me, Critical Race Theory (CRT) began in July of 1989, at the First Annual Workshop of Critical Race Theory at St. Benedict’s Center, Madison, Wisconsin. CRT looked like a promise: a theory that would link the methods of Critical Legal Studies [CLS] with the political commitments of “traditional civil rights scholarship” in a way that would revitalize scholarship on race and correct the deconstructive excesses of CLS.2
Angela P. Harris, “Foreword: The Jurisprudence of Reconstruction,” California Law Review, Vol. 82, No. 4. (July 1994), p. 741, https://www.jstor.org/stable/3480931?seq=1 (accessed December 3, 2020).
This strong political commitment is at the core of CRT. Americans should defend civil rights, and we should actively work to eliminate racism in the U.S. and anywhere it exists—but as we document in this Backgrounder, these noble aims are not the stated intentions of CRT’s founders. Harvard academic Derrick A. Bell, the recognized godfather of the CRT movement, does not mince words in one of the essays laying out the radical aims of the theory: “As I see it, critical race theory recognizes that revolutionizing a culture begins with the radical assessment of it.”3
Derrick A. Bell, “Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory?” University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 1995, No. 4 (1995), p. 893, https://sph.umd.edu/sites/default/files/files/Bell_Whos%20Afraid%20of%20CRT_1995UIllLRev893.pdf (accessed December 3, 2020).
Critical Race Theory shares these goals with both Critical Theory and Critical Legal Theory (or Critical Legal Studies).
This report offers the following:
- Gives a synopsis of these three related disciplines. This includes an explanation of how CRT specifically affects Americans today and a discussion of how CRT’s ideas support the concept of identity politics and blend the ideas of victimization, group identity, and political action together, leading to a divisive civic and political culture.
- Explains how the Black Lives Matter organizations built an aggressive political movement on CRT’s racially focused ideas—ideas apologists can use to justify violent riots.
- Discusses ways policymakers and educators are integrating CRT into K–12 instruction.
- Traces the roots of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 to a school policy dealing with student discipline that is being used by CRT advocates and researchers.
- Explains that the free speech crisis on college campuses today is the application of CRT’s and CT’s core tenets.
- Discusses CRT’s impact on the workplace and diversity trainings, some of which pressure employees to become activists or to discuss controversial topics in the workplace.
- Offers examples of how entertainers—actors, critics, and others—are using CRT’s ideas to influence decision-making in Hollywood.
- Provides policy recommendations that are aimed at restoring the concepts of judging people not by the color of their skin but by their conduct and the need to protect liberty so that everyone, regardless of ethnicity or background, has the opportunity to pursue the American Dream.
The origins of Critical Theory can be traced to the 1937 manifesto of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, colloquially known as the Frankfurt School. One of the first examples of what has come to be called the Western Marxist schools of thought, the Institute modeled itself on the Moscow-based Marx-Engels Institute. Originally, the school’s official name was going to be the Institut fur Marxismus (Institute for Marxism), but, ever desirous of downplaying their Marxist roots, its founders thought it prudent to adopt a less provocative title, according to one of the best histories of the school’s work and of Critical Theory itself, The Dialectical Imagination, by Martin Jay.4
Martin Jay, The Dialectical Imagination (New York and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company, 1977), p. 20.
Critical Theory was, from the start, an unremitting attack on Western institutions and norms in order to tear them down. This attack was aimed only at the West. Even though the manifesto, titled Traditional and Critical Theory, was written at the height of Joseph Stalin’s purges, show trials, and famines, the school “maintained an almost complete official silence about events in the USSR,” according to Jay.5
The manifesto, written by the school’s second director, Max Horkheimer, claimed that traditional theory fetishized knowledge, seeing truth as empirical and universal. Critical theory, on the other hand, “held that man could not be objective and that there are no universal truths.”6
Mike Gonzalez, The Plot to Change America (New York: Encounter Books, 2020), p. 129.
This relativism was inherited from Friedrich Nietzsche and filtered through the dialectics of Georg Friedrich Hegel and his best-known disciple, Karl Marx. The Frankfurt School philosophers believed that “a true epistemology must end the fetish of knowledge as such, which as Nietzsche demonstrated, leads to abstract systematizing,” wrote Jay.7
Jay, The Dialectical Imagination, p. 69.
As for their Marxism, three years earlier, Horkheimer had let his true feelings for the Soviet state be known in a collection of short essays known as Dammerung (in German, both “dawn” and “twilight”). “He who has eyes for the meaningless injustice of the imperialist world, which in no way is to be explained by technical impotence, will regard the events in Russia as the progressive, painful attempt to overcome this injustice,” he wrote.8
Ibid., p. 19.
Critical Theory, and the Frankfurt School in general, were thus a renaissance of Hegelian thought and of the revolutions that had taken place as a result in 1848—repackaged for a now-industrialized Germany. “To trace the origins of Critical Theory to their true source would require an extensive analysis of the intellectual ferment of the 1840s, perhaps the most extraordinary decade in 19th century German intellectual history,” wrote Jay.9
Ibid., p. 41.
He adds, “It can be argued that the Frankfurt School was returning to the concerns of the Left Hegelians of the 1840s. Like that first generation of critical theorists, its members were interested in the integration of philosophy and social analysis.”10
Ibid., p. 42.
Critical Theory and Its Early Applications
In the context of the era, Critical Theory’s demolition of Western traditions and norms was nothing less than a tool to implement the counter-hegemony called for in the Theory of Cultural Hegemony enunciated in the first decades of the 20th Century by Antonio Gramsci. Marx and Friedrich Engels had promised constant revolution by the workers of the world, but by the early 1930s, few had succeeded. The founder of the Italian Communist Party, Gramsci had come to believe that the workers were not revolting and overthrowing the bourgeoisie because they had bought into the belief system of the ruling class—family, nation-state, the capitalist system, and God. What was needed was struggle sessions in which the revolutionary vanguard would teach the workers how to think. But first the norms needed to be torn down. That is where Critical Theory—and, as we will see, all its offshoots—come in.
Horkheimer and the other Frankfurt scholars left Germany to escape the Third Reich, fleeing first to Geneva, then to New York, where Columbia University allowed them to set up camp in 1935 at Teachers’ College. In the United States they developed the same disdain for the American worker that Gramsci had felt for his Italian counterpart. “They insist unwaveringly on the ideology by which they are enslaved,” Horkheimer wrote with another Frankfurt School scholar, Theodor Adorno, about the American worker.11
Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, ed., Edmund Jephcott, trans. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002), p. 106.
After the defeat of the Nazi regime, Horkheimer, Adorno, and the others were able to return to Germany. But they left behind Horkheimer’s assistant, Herbert Marcuse, who became one of the leading spokesmen of the New Left.
A witness to the upheavals caused by the riots and violence associated with the Civil Rights era and the anti–Vietnam War Movement, Marcuse discovered in them a new agent of change: minorities, of which more categories would need to be created. “Underneath the conservative popular base is the substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and other colors,” Marcuse wrote. They would still need to be led ideologically—“their opposition is revolutionary even if their consciousness is not”—but the potential to stoke grievances among them was there in a way that did not exist with workers as a category.12
Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Boston: Beacon Press, 1991), pp. 256–257.
Critical Legal Theory
It is at this point that Critical Legal Theory takes over. Its scholars self-consciously acknowledge their debt to Critical Theory and other Marxist movements that came before the Frankfurt School. “Although CLS has been largely contained within the United States, it was influenced to a great extent by European philosophers, such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, Max Horkheimer, Antonio Gramsci, and Michel Foucault,” reads the entry for CLT in the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute.13
Cornell Law School, “Critical Legal Theory,” https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/critical_legal_theory (accessed December 3, 2020).
The Cornell entry for Critical Legal Studies explains:
Critical legal studies (CLS) is a theory which states that the law is necessarily intertwined with social issues, particularly stating that the law has inherent social biases. Proponents of CLS believe that the law supports the interests of those who create the law. As such, CLS states that the law supports a power dynamic which favors the historically privileged and disadvantages the historically underprivileged. CLS finds that the wealthy and the powerful use the law as an instrument for oppression in order to maintain their place in hierarchy.14
Then comes the kicker: “Many in the CLS movement want to overturn the hierarchical structures of modern society[,] and they focus on the law as a tool in achieving this goal.”
Just as with Critical Theory, Critical Legal Theory is, then, an instrument to overturn society for those who follow its tenets, this time from a legal perspective. The law, they argue, is simply the cultural hegemony codified in statutes and defended by a jurisprudence that aims to support the powerful against the claims of the marginalized. CLT proponents trace their founding to the first Conference on Critical Legal Studies, held at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1977. Among its main theorists figure Duncan Kennedy, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, and Robert W. Gordon.15
Duncan Kennedy and Karl E. Klare, “A Bibliography of Critical Legal Studies,” Yale Law Journal, Vol. 94, No. 461 (1984), http://www.duncankennedy.net/documents/Photo%20articles/A%20Bibliography%20of%20cls.pdf (accessed December 3, 2020).
In a 2002 essay, Kennedy acknowledges the debt Critical Legal Theory owes to both Marxism and post-modernism (championed by a mostly Parisian set of intellectuals who preached that texts could be “deconstructed” by the reader, a complicated philosophical concept that involves reinterpreting words to replace ideas based on objective physical existence), two separate critiques of bourgeois reality that nevertheless can rub uneasily against each other. “Critical legal studies,” he writes, “operates [sic] at the uneasy juncture of two distinct, sometimes complementary and sometimes conflicting enterprises, which I will call the left and the modernist/postmodernist projects.”16
Duncan Kennedy, excerpt of Left Legalism/Left Critique (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), http://www.duncankennedy.net/documents/The%20Critique%20of%20Rights%20in%20cls.pdf (accessed December 3, 2020).
“Leftism aims to transform existing social structures on the basis of a critique of their injustice, and, specifically, at the injustices of racist, capitalist patriarchy. The goal is to replace the system, piece by piece or in medium- or large-sized blocs, with a better system,” writes Kennedy.17
Post-modernism is a much more complex phenomenon, but it aims at the same destruction of society as the Marxist project, starting with the use of reason itself. We can gain a sense of such complexity in Kennedy’s own abstruse writing on Modernism/Postmodernism (or MPM). He explains:
[MPM] is a critique of the characteristic forms of rightness of this same culture and aims at liberation from inner and outer experiences of constraint by reason, in the name, not of justice and a new system, but of the dialectic of system and anti-system, mediated by transgressive artifacts that paradoxically reaffirm the “higher” forms of the values they seem to traduce.18
Just as with Critical Theory, post-modernism borrows heavily from the Nietzschean attack on objectivity. Writes Kennedy:
For the [MPM] project, the demand for agreement and commitment on the basis of representation with the pretension to objectivity is an enemy. The specific enemies have been the central ethical/theoretical concepts of bourgeois culture, including God, the autonomous individual choosing self, conventional morality, the family, manhood and womanhood, the nation state, humanity.19
CLT scholars also display an awareness of the rising identity groups that Marcuse identified as the new revolutionary base. Kennedy quotes approvingly his fellow university professor Cornell West as asserting the existence of an
inchoate, scattered yet gathering progressive movement that is emerging across the American landscape. This gathering now lacks both the vital moral vocabulary and the focused leadership that can constitute and sustain it. Yet it will be rooted ultimately in current activities by people of color, by labor and ecological groups, by women, by homosexuals.20
Kennedy adds that “in the United States, by the end of the 1970s, with the rise of identity politics, left discourse merged with liberal discourse, and the two ideas of the rights of the oppressed and the constitutional validity of their legal claims superseded all earlier versions of rightness.”21
Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center’s entry on Critical Legal Theory neatly teases out the link between the legal analysis of power relations with the emerging identity-based politics. It writes that CLT scholars:
focused from the start on the ways that law contributed to illegitimate social hierarchies, producing domination of women by men, nonwhites by whites, and the poor by the wealthy. They claim that apparently neutral language and institutions, operated through law, mask relationships of power and control. The emphasis on individualism within the law similarly hides patterns of power relationships while making it more difficult to summon up a sense of community and human interconnection.”22
“Critical Legal Studies Movement,” https://cyber.harvard.edu/bridge/CriticalTheory/critical2.htm (accessed December 3, 2020).
Critical Race Theory
From there it is a short step to Critical Race Theory. Unsurprisingly, given its name, CRT makes everything about race the prism through which its proponents analyze all aspects of American life—and do so with a degree of persistence that has helped CRT impact all aspects of American life.
Derrick Bell, referenced above, the widely-acknowledged “godfather” of CRT, explains in the essay cited earlier that the work of CRT authors “is often disruptive because its commitment to anti-racism goes well beyond civil rights, integration, affirmative action, and other liberal measures.”23
Bell, “Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory?” p. 899.
Bell quotes Angela P. Harris as explaining that CRT inherits from its Critical Legal Theory ancestor the commitment to dismantle all aspects of society through unremitting criticism—and at the same time eschews the wooly deconstructionist excesses of the postmodernists and adopts the practicality of the Civil Rights movement. Bell points to theorist and professor Charles Lawrence and says he “speaks for many critical race theory adherents when he disagrees with the notion that laws are or can be written from a neutral perspective.”24
Because the law “systematically privileges subjects who are white,” CRT calls for a “transformative resistance strategy.”25
Ibid, p. 901–902.
CRT’s Theoretical Applications. Because CRT is so intent on real-life transformation, some aspects of post-modernism and its deconstructionism had to be jettisoned, or at least sidelined. Kimberle Crenshaw, the CRT scholar who first came up with the CRT term “intersectionality,” put the need to abandon the Parisian post-modernism best when she wrote:
While the descriptive project of postmodernism of questioning the ways in which meaning is socially constructed is generally sound, this critique sometimes misreads the meaning of social construction and distorts its political relevance…. But to say that a category such as race or gender is socially constructed is not to say that that category has no significance in our world. On the contrary, a large and continuing project for subordinated people—and indeed, one of the projects for which postmodern theories have been very helpful in thinking about—is the way power has clustered around certain categories and is exercised against others.26/p>
Kimberle Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review, Vol 43. No. 6 (July 1991), p. 1296, https://is.muni.cz/el/1423/jaro2017/SPR470/um/68138626/Crenshaw_1991.txt (accessed December 3, 2020).
In the end, the identity politics that CRT exists to implement was more important than salon revelries. Adherents can apply intersectionality, for example: Someone can claim to be oppressed in more than one way by citing association with more than one social group, or “axis.”27
Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, Cynical Theories (London: Swift Press, 2020), p. 127.
CRT writers Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge explain that with intersectionality, “people’s lives and the organization of power in a given society are better understood as being shaped not by a single axis of social division, be it race or gender or class, but by many axes that work together and influence each other.”28
Ibid., p. 127, and Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge, Intersectionality (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2018).
In this way, write Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, CRT results in people looking for “power imbalances, bigotry, and biases that it assumes must be present,” which reduces everything to prejudice, “as understood under the power dynamics asserted by Theory.”29
Pluckrose and Lindsay, Cynical Theories, p. 128.
Of the three critical schools of thought analyzed here,30
There are others, such as “Lat-Crit” for Latinos, “Critical Pedagogy” for teachers, etc.
CRT is the least intellectually ethereal and the most explicitly political. Its use of story-telling—easy to understand fictional vignettes that seek to portray in every-day life terms the “systemic racism” that CRT scholars insist exists in America—is but one of the ways that CRT scholars seek to effect change.31
We discuss the use of such narratives in the section on K–12 schools infra.
Abstraction is to be avoided because it “smuggles the privileged choice of the privileged to depersonify [sic] their claims and then pass them off as the universal authority and the universal good.”32
Bell, “Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory?” p. 901.
It is perhaps for this reason that CRT hardly ever identifies the Frankfurt School or its Critical Theory predecessor as an influence, only acknowledging a debt to Critical Legal Theory.33
Delgado mentions only Gramsci as a source that CRT draws from, and Gramsci was not a formal member of the school.
CRT’s ceaseless assault on all American institutions and norms is pure Critical Theory, however. This assault includes the liberal order—in the classical sense, referring to Enlightenment ideas and political arrangements in which law protects individuals pursuing their own interests—something CRT scholars openly admit.
CRT and Classical Liberal Ideas
CRT’s proponents, writes Bell, “are highly suspicious of the liberal agenda, distrust its method, and want to retain what they see as a valuable strain of egalitarianism which may exist despite, and not because of, liberalism.”34
Ibid., p. 899.
This is an important departure from the original goals of the Civil Rights movement, which sought to redeem America’s promise by calling for color-blind equality. “Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law,” acknowledges Delgado.35
Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, p. 3.
The radical egalitarianism obviously clashes with strong protections of property rights and any notion of equal protection under the law. These are not the only liberal rights to be thrown overboard. Freedom of speech is also in CRT’s sights. “Being committed to ‘free speech’ may seem like a neutral principle, but it is not. Thus, proclaiming that ‘I am committed equally to allowing free speech for the KKK and 2LiveCrew’ is a non-neutral value judgment, one that asserts that the freedom to say hateful things is more important than the freedom to be free from the victimization, stigma, and humiliation that free speech entails.”36
Bell, “Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory?” p. 902.
Thus we arrive at today’s cancel culture.37
For more on this topic, see the section discussing free speech on campus infra.
Even the idea of rights itself—the very concept upon which this country was founded—is a target of CRT. “Crits are suspicious of another liberal mainstay, namely, rights,” observes Delgado, using the informal abbreviation CRT writers sometimes employ to describe themselves. The “more radical CRT scholars with roots in racial realism and an economic view of history believe that moral and legal rights are apt to do the right holder much less good than we like to think…. Think how that system applauds affording everyone equality of opportunity but resists programs that assure equality of results.” Rights are “alienating. They separate people from each other—‘stay away, I’ve got my rights’—rather than encouraging to form close, respectful communities.”38
Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, pp. 28–29.
The liberal principle that we universally derive these rights from a common humanity and human faculties we all share equally comes under the gun. Classical liberalism is “overly caught up in the search for universals,” writes Delgado. What CRT proponents want is “individualized treatment—‘context’—that pays attention to minorities’ lives.”39
Ibid., p. 65.
“The concepts of rights is indeterminate, vague and disutile,” in Bell’s words.40
Bell, “Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory?” p. 900.
Legal and administrative neutrality, too, is an enemy because it gets in the way of uplifting such minority voices. Also—and this is a recurring theme with all critical schools, starting with Horkheimer, if not Nietzsche—neutrality is impossible to attain. On this point, Bell cites Lawrence again:
Charles Lawrence [a law professor] speaks for many critical race theory adherents when he disagrees with the notion that laws are or can be written from a neutral perspective. Lawrence asserts that such a neutral perspective does not, and cannot, exist—that we all speak from a particular point of view, from what he calls a ‘positioned perspective.’ The problem is that not all positioned perspectives are equally valued, equally heard, or equally included. From the perspective of critical race theory, some positions have historically been oppressed, distorted, ignored, silenced, destroyed, appropriated, commodified, and marginalized—and all of this, not accidentally.41
Ibid., p. 901.
CRT is purposely political and dispenses with the idea of rights because it blames all inequalities of outcome on what its adherents say is pervasive racism in the United States. “White supremacy,” a term that comes up repeatedly in CRT discourse and continues to be heavily used today by leaders of the Black Lives Matter organizations, must be smashed. White supremacy does not mean an actual belief in the superiority of white people, however. It can mean anything from classical philosophers to Enlightenment thinkers to the Industrial Revolution.
One of the most famous practitioners of CRT today, Robin DiAngelo, writes in her book, White Fragility:
White supremacy is a descriptive and useful term to capture the all-encompassing centrality and assumed superiority of people defined and perceived as white and the practices based on this assumption. White supremacy in this context does not refer to individual white people and their individual intentions or actions but to an overarching political, economic, and social system of domination. Again, racism is a structure, not an event. While hate groups that openly proclaim white superiority do exist and this term refers to them also, the popular consciousness solely associates white supremacy with these radical groups. This reductive definition obscures the reality of the larger system at work and prevents us from addressing this system.42
Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility (Boston: Beacon Press, 2018), p. 28.
“I hope to have made clear that white supremacy is something much more pervasive and subtle than the actions of explicit white nationalists. White supremacy describes the culture we live in,” DiAngelo writes.43
Ibid., pp. 28, 33.
Its use is a very successful example of the Left’s use of strategic ambiguity in the pursuit of a rather large and ambitious goal. The target is a free-market system that rewards hard work, ability, and other virtuous traits. Other CRT terms that have specific and unique meanings when used by its practitioners are “equity,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” and “people of color.”44
See glossary infra.
CRT speakers have also developed peculiar turns of phrase that are specific to the group; supporters are said to be “in allyship” or “in relationship.” The U.S. is said to be a “carceral state.”45
See, for example, “Angela Davis and BLM Co-Founder Alicia Garza in Conversation Across Generations,” Youtube, January 23, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gqGVni8Oec (accessed December 3, 2020). The exchange on “Democracy Now” was between Black Lives Matter leader Alicia Garza and former Communist Party USA member Angela Davis.
How Does Critical Race Theory Affect You?
Because of their strong political commitment to transforming the United States, CRT writers make clear that they do not intend for what happens on college campuses to stay on campus. “It is our hope that scholarly resistance will lay the groundwork for wide-scale resistance. We believe that standards and institutions created by and fortifying white power ought to be resisted,” writes Bell.46
On that score, we must pronounce CRT to have been a resounding success. CRT has broken out of the classroom and become the philosophy of wide-scale resistance. It is useful to identify a few of the ways with which it impacts the daily lives of Americans.
Identity Politics. CRT has become the academic body of work that underpins identity politics, an ongoing effort to reimagine the United States as a nation not of individuals and local communities united under common purposes, but as one riven by groups based on sex, race, national origin, or gender—each with specific claims on victimization. These identity categories correspond to Marcuse’s new revolutionary base (“the substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and other colors”).47
Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society.
The identities are often artificial ones manufactured by government itself, examples being the Hispanic and Asian-American pan-ethnicities contrived in 1977 by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), or the 31 genders approved by the New York City Commission on Human Rights.48
Office of Management and Budget, “Directive No. 15: Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Reporting Statistics and Administrative Reporting,” 1977, https://wonder.cdc.gov/wonder/help/populations/bridged-race/directive15.html#:~:text=This%20Directive%20provides%20standard%20classifications,administrative%20reporting%20and%20statistical%20activities (accessed December 3, 2020). See also New York City Commission on Human Rights, “Gender: Identity, Expression,” https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/cchr/downloads/pdf/publications/GenderID_Card2015.pdf (accessed December 3, 2020).
Under identity politics, America is no longer a country where the individual is the central agent in society, who, because of his very existence possesses individual rights. Instead, membership in the official categories becomes the identity that matters when it comes to rights (mostly positive rights, not natural ones), responsibilities, and everything else. Identity politics has become the new paradigm under which many Americans now operate. Victimhood is what commands attention, respect, and entitlements, seen as compensatory justice.
CRT emerged contemporaneously with the proliferation of these identity categories in America and became the philosophical tool to implement identity politics and the attempt to transform the United States. Race, Racism and American Law by Derrick Bell includes toward the end a chapter for “Racism and Other Nonwhites,” among whom he names for the United States the Chinese, the Japanese, and the Mexicans.49
Derrick Bell, Race, Racism and American Law (Philadelphia, PA: Aspen, 1972).
It was published in 1972, two years before the Census Bureau bureaucrats, under pressure from leftist activists, opened the first national racial and ethnic advisory committee.50
Mike Gonzalez, “The Divisive Consequences of the Census Bureau’s Advisory Committee on Race,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, August 16, 2018, https://www.heritage.org/civil-society/commentary/the-divisive-consequences-the-census-bureaus-committee-race.
Just three years later, these activists convinced the OMB to create the pan-ethnic categories.
The simultaneity was hardly coincidental: The activists who forced the bureaucracy to confect the identities also drank deeply from the well of European philosophies brought over after World War II. “The language of ‘dominant’ and ‘subservient,’ or ‘subordinate,’ groups, integral to Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School” pervaded the work of Julian Samora, the first founder of a Hispanic studies department at a major university, the first leader of La Raza [“The Race”] and a member of the Census Bureau’s first national advisory committee on race. Samora’s 1953 dissertation, titled “Minority Leadership in a Bi-Cultural Community,” quotes the German-born American social psychologist Kurt Lewin, who was associated with the Frankfurt School.51
Mike Gonzalez, The Plot to Change America (New York, NY: Encounter Books, 2020), p. 29.
CRT reshaped the identitarians’ thinking in new ways still and gave them newer terms to express these thoughts. Soon CRT was spawning Critical Latin Theory and other spinoffs that were identical in their approach—save for the “marginalized” subjects to be emphasized. Identity politics is difficult to challenge because it presents itself as a just demand for formerly marginalized people to claim attention and reward, but it seeks to collectivize American society; it is divisive, flouts constitutional equal protection, and represents a direct threat to republican self-rule. In all this it has found a handmaiden in CRT.
(Read about The Black Lives Matter Insurgency and more at The Heritage Foundation)
Whereas Martin Luther King Junior had a dream of a nation where his children would be judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, critical race theory depends solely on a person’s race to determine their worth and how laws should apply to that person.
While MLK’s dream requires the development of the better angels within people of society, while critical race theory depends on the enslaving influences of socialism.
Never mind that a majority of violent, career criminals in Harris County get off with deferred adjudication or low-bail or no-bail bonds offered by either Democrat District Attorney Kim Ogg or allowed by a number Democrat social justice judges.
Joe Biden seems only to see the immediate effects of his last disaster. Therefore, he:
The crazy thing is that (while the press will not focus on it due to his Democrat party card) Joe seems to have manufactured each of these as a distraction from a previous failure. He opened the border only because of his incomplete campaign against Bernie and Trump. Every time a new crisis came up, he came up with a new topic to toss (which became its own crisis). This guy can’t get out of his own way.
If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will not condemn Antifa or BLM for firebombing shops and courts in Seattle, then why will they have Merrick Garland charge people under the Patriot Act for getting possibly verbally abusive at school board meetings?
According to the American form of government, our government is supposed to be limited and our speech is supposed to be free. I hate to put things at a first-grade level, but there is a reason that the First Amendment covers the freedoms of speech, journalism (if they so choose), and religion.
What’s more, if Merrick Garland had any honor, he would recuse himself before this information became public knowledge. He should not wait to be found out. However, since he remains in place despite this conflict, obviously he has no honor or credibility.
Thank God he did not get appointed to the Supreme Court.