President Donald Trump’s ban on “Critical Race Theory” in federal employees’ training has exposed one of the major fault lines in America’s culture war, a nakedly authoritarian worldview that is turning coworkers, congregants, and even family members against one another.
What caught the president’s attention was a series of Critical Race Theory (CRT) exposés from Christopher Rufo, a citizen journalist who’s published document after document showing woke corporate consultants bilking federal agencies for millions to present this far-left re-education curriculum — even to departments involved in critical national security work. This July, Breitbart obtained an email sent to Army personnel with an attachment pushing a similar message — that “white supremacy” is expressed in “covert” ways such as “exceptionalism” and the statement “there’s only one human race.”
Trump’s executive action may be too little, too late, especially if people in private businesses, churches, or other institutions do not similarly fight back against this movement. The greatest stakes are in education, where CRT has already taken root and amassed great power. It requires such power to be absolute and unchecked, as we’ll demonstrate in a moment.
A brief crash course: As Breitbart has previously explained, the late Professor Derrick Bell was one of the creators of this school of thought. CRT envisions the base layer of reality as power struggles between the oppressed and their oppressors. The version of this theory now ascendant in schools, entertainment, and corporations filters everything through race — but with radical new definitions for existing terms.
“Racism” is no longer about ethnic prejudice but about some demographics having less wealth, status, or safety than others. “Whiteness” is no longer a physical trait but a king-of-the-hill sociopolitical caste, where your every action is understood as subconsciously motivated to maintain power through subjugation. Said racism cannot be defeated by refraining from hatred and discrimination; it requires an active posture of antiracism — discrimination in service of evening up those demographic stats on wealth, status, and safety.
In terms of application (“do the work,” you’ll hear), that’s where CRT gets murkier. The general strategy of woke evangelists is to secure loyalty (“antiracism is a lifelong commitment,” “get on the right side of history,” etc.) and train their newfound followers to see any critics of their books, their ideas, as racists who must be purged from public life. Practical applications are very vague; at most, the thought leaders will make suggestions about granting more wealth, status, and safety to oppressed demographics. The real details will be worked out once the antiracists have enough power.
However, sometimes the mask slips.
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi (pictured, right) is one academic who’s given away the game — and in spectacular fashion. The author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi has been lavished with awards, acclaim, and prestigious positions in education and media, all well before the age of 40. As the Black Lives Matter protests and riots raged this spring, his How To book shot to the top of the bestseller lists. He has since been promoted by celebrity influencers like Oprah, tech magnates like Jack Dorsey, and corporate media.
The central thesis of How to Be an Antiracist (HTBAA) is that antiracists “dismantle” racist “systems.” But this raises the question of just how far that principle — tearing down any concept, law, or establishment which correlates with unequal aggregate outcomes — should actually go. According to my colleague Joel Pollak, CRT holds that all of America “is racist by design, because its Constitution and all of its other institutions emerged in a context where slavery was legal.” And Christian apologist Neil Shenvi points out that one can easily argue — and some academics already have — that institutions as fundamental as marriage perpetuate racial inequality. Thus, a federal law abolishing marriage would be antiracist by Kendi’s definition.
Come on, though. Would he really go that far? If you made this rockstar academic king for a day, would it really be all that bad?
In September 2019, months after releasing HTBAA, Kendi gave us our answer — a single paragraph in Politico, a proposal just specific enough to expose the totalitarian heartbeat of a CRT Idea Man:
To fix the original sin of racism, Americans should pass an anti-racist amendment to the U.S. Constitution that enshrines two guiding anti-racist principals: Racial inequity is evidence of racist policy and the different racial groups are equals. The amendment would make unconstitutional racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials (with “racist ideas” and “public official” clearly defined). It would establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA) comprised of formally trained experts on racism and no political appointees. The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas. The DOA would be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas. [emphasis added]
Get that? Racism will be “fixed” when unelected bureaucrats become an official fourth branch of the government. You don’t need to know much about civics or our Constitution to see the problems here:
- They’ll have perpetual veto power over every governing body in the U.S., including all 89,000 local governments.
- Just in case you missed the word “monitor,” they will be able to block legislation both before it passes and perpetually evaluate it afterward — presumably to shut it down unilaterally if the results are deemed unacceptable.
- They can eliminate “private racist policies” — that’s not defined here, but if every public body is already covered, doesn’t this give them authority over private businesses’ self-governance?
- They can discipline people for “expressions of racist ideas.”
YouTuber Benjamin Boyce has aptly called this proposal the “Thought Police Amendment”:
Writes the man who wants a thought police amendment to the US Constitution. https://t.co/izo9XXaPtH
— ⛵️ (@BenjaminABoyce) September 7, 2020
I’m torn on why Kendi would commit such an obvious faceplant (literally, a “DOA” proposition): was it unchecked ego, or was it upping the ante to stay on top of the attention economy? Because there’s no analysis or spin necessary to make this thoroughly fascist proposal toxic to the average person; we only need to share it and clearly exegete it.
Kendi’s dream of a pro-discrimination police state should be the first and only point in our discussion of Critical Race Theory. Ask anyone on the fence whether they agree with Kendi’s big idea — what parts of it they like and why, what parts of it they don’t like and why. Ask them: if you agree with his diagnosis but not his solution, is he the one being inconsistent, or are you?
The only possible way to clean up this mess is to quibble about tangential minutiae. So let me anticipate some of those now, because CRT fans have very limited dialogue trees:
- That’s not really Critical Race Theory!
- So you’re saying racism doesn’t exist?
- This is a defense mechanism. Your white fragility is keeping you from engaging in any difficult conversation on race.
On the first point, you’ll see this kind of sneering from bluechecks all the time, but it’s a self-own. “Oh, you think this stuff originated with the Frankfurt School? What a loser!” “You put this song in a new wave playlist? What kind of moron doesn’t recognize post-punk?” When the practical application is a boot stamping on a human face forever, no one’s going to quibble whether that boot’s label captures all the subtleties of which scholars came up with it and what they called it.
On the second point, this is the deliberate payoff for using the same term “white supremacy” for the KKK as you do for valuing delayed gratification. Your average person doesn’t want to be racist. No suburban housewife strives to be the bad guys from American History X, so all you have to do is paint her hope for a quiet existence as the new Jim Crow, and voila, you’ve got a frightened new proselyte.
And finally, we’ve got the ol’ DiAngelo Kafkatrap. Ignore her TED Talk, and it proves you’re a racist. Critique her TED Talk, and it proves you’re a racist. When the only winning move is to admit something you know is false — that your entire mental world revolves around subjugating the Other — this has proven to be a silly game; rather, the only winning move is not to play.
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