A Challenge To Soledad O'Brien On Critical Race Theory

I’m not sure that Andrew Breitbart, in his plans to release the archival video of Barack Obama praising and embracing Derrick Bell at Harvard Law School, wanted us to debate Critical Race Theory as much as he wanted the American people to know it was there. He favored truth and transparency over ideological purity, though he did love a good debate. 

Unfortunately, instead of debating the merits of the video yesterday, CNN host Soledad O'Brien angrily pounced on its source, guest Joel Pollak of Breitbart.com. Unsurprisingly, we’ve seen this before.

In 2007, Ms. O’Brien hosted the first of several successful CNN specials titled "Black in America." After a rocky start to O’Brien’s career, she had finally found her schtick, and the cable network was pleased to continue growing the targeted demographic. A recent one, and favorite of mine, took a look at the lack of well-funded African-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. And yes, for those who need to engage in identity politics, I’m really black.

It’s no secret that Breitbart long believed that a proper vetting of the President would be the key to finally breaking the false narrative propagated by the media. In 2008, the media’s complicity in Obama’s campaign prevented that from happening. They preferred to focus on only the warm and fuzzy elements of his past, choosing to ignore the racially sensitive aspects, as highlighted in this video.

The media wasn’t the only culprit, however. Harvard Professor and Obama ally Charles Ogletree believed the video was worth hiding away until after President Obama had been elected and passed a few of his big-ticket agenda items before finally airing it to a private audience. The left and the right agree: there’s significance here.

The mainstream media, or as Breitbart called it, the “Democrat-media complex”, is pulling out all the stops. The narrative they’re constructing is that this video isn’t worth airing or even talking about, and when it airs they will attempt to dismiss the video and discredit the source. But they’re bluffing, and it’s too early to be going all-in. We’re going to vet the President.

This isn’t a new idea. Liberals tried doing this once before -- vetting a President well into his term. It was President Bush in 2004, and upon finding nothing new, made up a story using the once-credible Dan Rather to make very serious and very false allegations.

But these allegations against Obama are verifiable and very serious. We say it’s time to give the people the facts and let them decide. Derrick Bell, friend of the President and subject of the recent video release, is the creator of what’s known as Critical Race Theory. I did some research on the subject, and here’s what I found:

CRT recognizes that racism is engrained [sic] in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture. This is the analytical lens that CRT uses in examining existing power structures. CRT identifies that these power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color. CRT also rejects the traditions of liberalism and meritocracy. Legal discourse says that the law is neutral and colorblind; however, CRT challenges this legal “truth” by examining liberalism and meritocracy as a vehicle for self-interest, power, and privilege.  CRT also recognizes that liberalism and meritocracy are often stories heard from those with wealth, power, and privilege.
At least, that’s what UCLA tells me.

O’Brien took her interview to a screeching halt to allege that Pollak did not properly define Bell's Critical Race Theory. She asserted that saying that white supremacy is institutionalized was not defining CRT correctly. Unfortunately for Soledad, Bell’s writings and the literature on the subject say otherwise--that CRT is about institutional racism. CRT is significant because it is actually a legal theory. Think of it as a vehicle for a larger initiative. It’s a way of arguing to influence court decisions and make policy, fitting squarely into Bell’s broader “racial realism,” which I stumbled upon thanks to Daniel Webb.

This further explains why no one is actually defending Bell or his theories but instead arguing that they’re not worth airing. Why shouldn't we talk about the ideas of a man who visited the White House twice? Is there something wrong with debating the merit of Obama/Bell’s rally for affirmative action? Or could it be that Bell didn’t consider all blacks “really black” and he would only teach if the University hired a “real” black woman who “thought” a certain way? This isn’t journalism but editorial censorship.

Ms. O'Brien, I’m not even taking a position on whether Bell or Obama are right or wrong. Frankly, Soledad, you shouldn’t be either. Instead, allow the American people to see the facts of the story and make their own decision without dismissing it. In all other cases, footage of our Presidents in their younger days has been fair game and, in fact, a top story. What is different about this video?

I’ve enjoyed the "Black in America" series. While I haven’t always thought they were framed fairly, as a young African-American raised by a single mother, I’ve appreciated them. So, let’s do it again, Soledad. I challenge you to educate America. You alleged Pollak was wrong, but Bell’s own work tells us differently. Run a "Black in America" special covering Bell’s Critical Racial Theory. Please. I’m not even asking to have opposing views on your special, but let’s air it for the American people. Let’s see what America thinks, because despite your accusations that Pollak mischaracterized Bell’s work, you never defined it for yourself.

May I suggest a tweet to our readers: “.@Soledad_OBrien, plz honor @Ali’s request to do a Black in America special on Critical Race Theory. #breitbart”


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