Critical Race Theory - What's the big deal? Part 2
Last updated 12/28/2022 at 5:11pm
This is the second in a series on Critical Race Theory. It is reprinted from Village and Valley Newspapers in May 2021.
Last week we focused on the Marxist/neo-Marxist roots of Critical Race Theory (CRT) which are strong, but where neo-Marxism left off, postmodernism took over, making the way for CRT today.
Postmodernism has its roots in Marxism and concepts written about by French Theorists in the last century, including Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Jean-Francois Lyotard who were Marxist sympathizers.
Postmodernism is a hard concept to describe but it represents a set of ideas and modes of thought that came together in response to specific historical conditions. Like its predecessor Marxism, it was more about groups – owners against workers, proletariat against the bourgeoisie, etc. Postmodernism was a critical reaction to modernism, including the Enlightenment. In the Enlightenment it was the opposite. The individual was paramount, the proper unit of analysis, a fundamental reality, capable of rational thought and independent speech and could weigh arguments according to evidence, logic and reason with independent sovereignty, free will, etc. Postmodernists are skeptical of all grand narratives, like religions, including the grand Enlightenment narrative.
Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, co-authors of the book “Cynical Theories,” explain that Postmodernism is a reaction to and rejection of modernity. Modernity is “the profound cultural transformation which saw the rise of representative democracy, the age of science, the supersedence of reason over superstition, and the establishment of individual liberties to live according to one’s values.”
They write, “Although postmodernism openly rejects the possibility of the foundations that have built modernity, it has nevertheless had a profound impact on the thinking, culture and politics of those societies that modernity built.”
Since there were no successful governments based on Marxism and in fact, they were catastrophically bloody, resulting in 100 million dead from tyranny and genocide. It was no longer intellectually credible to promote those ideas as an intellectual. People were responding to the World Wars and the widespread disillusionment with Marxism. They were also questioning religious worldviews in light of the post-industrial times and the rapid advance of technology.
But because postmodernism is also a radical skepticism of objective knowledge, it challenges our social, cultural, and political thinking with intentional disruptive ways.
Normally, as a culture, we would welcome the debate and work these ideas out in the open. However, it is part of the postmodern/CRT doctrine that if you disagree, the response is not to debate, it’s censorship or cancellation. Free speech and open debate can be considered aggressive and maybe even dangerous, or possibly even “hate speech.”
One important thing that postmodernism does not do, is give credit to advances in science, culture, etc. It radically rejects the foundations upon which today’s advanced civilizations and cultures are built and consequently has the potential to undermine them. That is one reason why the preference is for revolution. Destroy and build the utopia up from nothing, rather than recognize progress and build on that.
Postmodernism was prominent within the fields of the humanities and the social sciences, including psychoanalysis, linguistics, philosophy, history and sociology.
The Encyclopedia Britannica defines postmodernism as “a late 20th century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.”
This is relevant because of the rejection of science, tradition, identity, (example: no one can tell you if you are a male or female). Relativism of moral and ethical matters: Morality is made. It is not based on cultural or religious tradition, or law. Morality is constructed by dialogue and choice because it is believed that all forms of morality are socially constructed cultural worldviews subject to the person’s view, feelings and ever changing disposition.
Steinar Kvale, professor of psychology and director of the Center of Qualitative Research, says, “The central themes of postmodernism include doubting that any human truth provides an objective representation of reality, focusing on language and the way societies use it to create their own local realities, and denying the universal (2+2=4). These, he explains, resulted in an increased interest in narrative and storytelling, particularly when “truths” are situated within particular cultural constructs, and a relativism that accepts that different descriptions of reality cannot be measured against one another in any final – that is, objective – way. Therefore, knowledge, truth, meaning and morality are, according to postmodernist thinking, culturally constructed and relative products of individual cultures, none of which possess the necessary tools or terms to evaluate the others.”
This is why it’s dangerous in our schools. Gone is objective truth, including math, science, history, etc.
Postmodernism in rejecting modernity, including Enlightenment thinking, posits skepticism that objective reality can be known through reliable methods, like the scientific method, and math. Two plus two therefore, does not always have to equal 4 according to postmodernism. Objective knowledge or truth isn’t really obtainable, and you also have to have a commitment to cultural constructivism.
They want to not only change what people believe, but how they believe and then encourage them to be activists. Enter Social Justice Warriors.
Then after objective truth is rejected, it is taught that society is formed by systems of power and hierarchies which decide what can be known and how. Usher in political correctness.
If it doesn’t quite make sense to you, don’t feel bad because you aren’t alone.
• So first we reject reason and all the advances brought by the Enlightenment and the scientific method.
• We blur all boundaries of society, gender, nationality, family, etc. with cultural constructivism.
• We fixate on language to the point of neurosis and reject free speech and cancel those who may disagree or try to understand. Then if the conversation gets a little tough or complicated, it descends into name calling, especially the favored “racist” tag. We are seeing this locally at varying levels of government.
What follows is an obsession with oppression, activism and identity politics which divides people into groups primarily by race. Gone are the standards fought for peacefully by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of judging someone by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin. You have to first consider someone’s race and this is also what is being taught to children in school. CRT turns it around so that if you don’t first consider skin color, you are racist. And if you speak up about it or disagree with the principle, you are racist. And if you are “white” you are automatically a racist and an oppressor, no matter who you are or your upbringing.
The two books most read and recognized right now supporting CRT are “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo and “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi. A good book explaining the dangers of CRT is “Cynical Theories” by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay.
In this new world, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that she will no longer take interviews with white people. Can you imagine if a caucasian mayor did that? This is only one of many openly racist actions. It is reverting us back to considering people for school, grants, etc. by race, which is racist. I never thought we would revert back to systematic racism, but it seems those who preach against it are bringing it back into fashion.
Journalist Christopher Rufo reports having 1,000 stories from across the country about CRT. Here are a couple. “The Treasury Department held a training session telling staff members that ‘virtually all white people contribute to racism’ and that they must convert ‘everyone in the federal government’ to the ideology of ‘antiracism.’ And the Sandia National Laboratories, which designs America’s nuclear arsenal, sent white male executives to a three-day reeducation camp, where they were told that ‘white male culture’ was analogous to the ‘KKK,’ ‘white supremacists,’ and ‘mass killings.’ The executives were then forced to renounce their ‘white male privilege’ and write letters of apology to fictitious women and people of color.”
Former Department of Justice Attorney General William Barr recently argued that “the greatest threat to religious liberty in America today” is “the increasingly militant and extreme secular-progressive climate of our state-run educational system.”
He said that “this indoctrination in public schools may well have reached the point of being unconstitutional and laid out a case for a legal challenge to the… brainwashing based on the First Amendment.”
So, why are we taking the time each week to look at Critical Race Theory and start at its roots? We are finding it in some of our schools and certainly in local, state and national government. An “ethnic studies” framework for K-12 was just passed by the California legislature. On May 27, the California Assembly passed a bill to make Critical Race Theory (dubbed “ethnic studies”) a high school graduation requirement. The vote was 58-9.
We have to understand it before we can really report on it and we are taking you on that journey of discovery with us. As parents in school board meetings across the country fight it and state governments outlaw it, we better do our research and at least have a basic understanding since the next generation will be affected by it one way or another.