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Guest Commentary / October 15, 2021

What Is the End Game for Critical Race Theory?

The actions of the left over the last few years suggest zero chance for a happily ever after.

By John Nicholson

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” With good reason this has been a life lesson taught by generations of parents, teachers, preachers, and librarians almost since the beginning of free public schools. But in only a few years the far left has turned that wisdom on its head and now it preaches “always judge a book by its cover.” By this radical rubric, if someone is white, they are racist. Period. End of subject. At least according to the writings of people such as Robin DiAngelo and Ibram Kendi. Hence the current fight in the public schools – the normals against teachers of Critical Race Theory for the souls of our children.

The aspect of Critical Race Theory being taught in public schools is not some postmodern methodology of theoretical legal analysis but, more precisely, the conclusions of that analysis. It is this semantic nuance that allows school boards to be evasive and disingenuous and tell parents, “Oh, CRT is an academic approach to legal analysis and we are not teaching K-12 students legal theory or analysis.” But they are incorporating the findings and conclusions of CRT as unquestioned foundational truths into school curricula at every grade level.

Decades ago, the early academic Critical Legal Theorists began applying the intellectual weapons of postmodernism, deconstruction and delegitimization to the American legal system. Early on, some critics even appeared aware of the problems they might be creating. “When they find out what we are doing they will come after us with guns” reportedly was the 1984 comment of an early Critical Legal Studies academic from Harvard. (Cited in Looking to the Bottom: Critical Legal Studies and Reparations, by Mari Matsuda.) In the same review is written by another: “Like a pack of super termites, these scholars eat away at the trees of legal doctrine and liberal ideals, leaving sawdust in their path. … Never mind that no one knows what to do with all the sawdust.”

The “crits” have decided that laws, legal theory, and political structures are merely social creations invented and framed to legitimize the values of the existing power structure. In what way merely social constructs? Consider as an illustration Daylight Savings Time (DST). This year DST begins on November 7. Why? Because some politicians, economists, and scientists said so. Which ones? The ones in positions of political and bureaucratic power. So this mere social construct has become a national imperative that forces every American to take an action twice per year (change their clocks). The CLS/CRT crits treat our justice system, as one institution among many, as nothing more or less arbitrary than Daylight Savings Time. Not only that, but who framed our justice system? Why, it was a group of white men back in the 1770s and 1780s. And, argue the crits, they are the very ones who were trying to cement their hegemony in the new America. Today, for leftists, their tribe (white men) cancels their work (the longest lasting free republic on earth).

CLS theorists then decided that other constructs and other values exist and may be preferable, specially if they give power to minorities who have suffered historical discrimination. Black and other minority academic legal critics, not unexpectedly, extended this analysis more broadly into a critique and condemnation of all American society. Their anti-American worldview is the essence of CRT. A nation of laws works because the people believe in its institutions to provide justice, freedom, and stability. CRT seeks to delegitimize all these institutions.

The conclusions of the CRT advocates provide a platform on which the works of authors like DiAngelo and Kenti sell a framework for inculcating their versions of racism, guilt, tribal identity politics, and separation into schools and the popular culture. The precepts: all whites are privileged oppressors, all blacks are oppressed, all public institutions are racist, assimilation of blacks into a common culture with whites is racist, one’s race or tribe is the singular important characteristic of a person, capitalism is the only reason the poor are poor, free speech is merely license for hate speech, and…

Nothing is more important than gaining the power to be the decider. CRT is very much the fruit of a poisoned tree, whose genes and very being entail the destruction of liberal ideas and institutions.

What is not asked or answered is what, exactly, is the vision of utopia sought by these pushers of CRT? Nobody will tell you explicitly, but the left’s vocal love affair with socialism is a good clue. In some fashion, its utopia includes one-party rule and party leaders deciding how to allocate wealth, property, and patronage as they alone see fit. (Sound familiar?) Meanwhile, in the midterm, as leftists work to further their end goals, what do they think is going to happen after a couple generations of kids are socialized by public schools into racial division, tribal identity, equity (envy for what others have that you feel entitled to), rejection of free speech, and disdain for our institutions? Does the left want to send students into courthouses around the country and drive the judges from their chambers? Then hold court themselves, like during the French Revolution, judging and executing the shouted punishments of the mob? Or, perhaps, will leftist radicals invade the offices of legislators and physically hold hostages until benefits are granted — reparations, perhaps? Will student mobs block the roads in Washington, DC, with burning tires until politicians give in and agree to confiscate private property for redistribution? Is that what the school boards and K-12 teachers of CRT want?

Activists know the specific intent of radical activism is to create consequences, and teaching hate between the races for a few years will assure that the consequences are dreadful. Do “educators” really not see that inculcating the white oppressor/black oppressed paradigm is merely teaching race hatred without, perhaps, speaking overtly violent words? One should expect resentments to grow, and the angry can be goaded into action.

All the CLS and CRT efforts thus far have been to deconstruct and delegitimize the “system.” Now they are fighting to indoctrinate the children in school. And, after that, who knows? Do they have a game plan to radically transform an “unjust” society into a “just” one? There is no formula to do this … not for a new system that will endure. This very problem is what faced our Founders, and we are fortunate they had the moral fiber and intellectual depth to think it through and find common ground in a republic that guarded liberty as best it could from the ravages of mob democracy and abuse of ambitious politicians. Ending overt racism is an important goal but destroying the existing institutions of a culture and a people and hoping for the best afterward is a poor strategy. CLS and CRT offer no evidence to suggest that, under their utopia, “we will all live happily ever after.” The actions of the left over the last few years suggest zero chance for a happily ever after.

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