Pollak: Critical Race Theory, Explained

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Critical Race Theory claims that all of our institutions — our government, our economy, our culture — are based on racial hierarchy, with whites on top and blacks at the bottom. Even things that look race-neutral are, on closer inspection, racist.

The idea has its origins in something called Critical Theory, which Andrew Breitbart explained in his memoir, Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!.

It was the invention of a group of radical left-wing intellectuals known as the Frankfurt School, who developed it to achieve through cultural change what Marxism could not achieve politically.

Breitbart wrote: “It was, quite literally, a theory of criticizing everyone and everything everywhere. It was an attempt to tear down the social fabric by using all the social sciences … it was an infinite and unending criticism of the status quo, adolescent rebellion against all established rules and norms. … Critical theory does not create, it only destroys.”

Critical Theory spawned various offshoots. One of them was Critical Legal Theory, which said that the Constitution, our judicial system, and our laws could never be neutral or objective because they existed to protect those who created them.

A scholar at Harvard Law School named Derrick Bell applied that reasoning to race, and came up with Critical Race Theory. As Breitbart News noted recently:

Critical Race Theory holds that the United States is racist by design, because its Constitution and all of its other institutions emerged in a context where slavery was legal. According to the theory, the very institution of private property in the U.S. is corrupt because it was enshrined in a system that saw black people as chattels.

In books like Faces at the Bottom of the Well, Bell developed his theory further, arguing that continued black suppression remained part of America’s cultural identity. He even wrote a science fiction story (later a short film), “The Space Traders,” in which America sold black people to aliens.

To Bell, the civil rights movement was regrettable, in the sense that it misled black Americans into believing that equality before the law was sufficient. The real problem, he believed, was that the legal system itself was fundamentally racist.

Bell saw only one road to salvation: if the U.S. amended the Constitution to include socioeconomic rights — such as health care, housing, education, and the like — it could undo the original sin of slavery by enshrining the redistribution of wealth. Such a constitutional revolution could liberate poor people of every race while also restoring the humanity of black people.

Barack Obama was influenced by Bell and taught Bell’s work to his own law students. Andrew Breitbart discovered the connection between Obama and Bell, which emerged in a video released after Breitbart’s death.

At the time, the mainstream media mocked Critical Race Theory as a marginal concern. Today, it has emerged as a major theme in public education and in racial sensitivity training. People are being indoctrinated in Critical Race Theory daily.

Americans are waking up to the fact that Critical Race Theory is being used to re-impose racial thinking on our society. Writer and filmmaker Christopher Rufo has exposed just how pervasive Critical Race Theory is in schools, government, and private companies; conservative radio host and author Mark Levin explores the topic in great depth in a forthcoming book, American Marxism.

The link between Critical Race Theory and Marxism is strong, as a woman who immigrated from comunist China noted recently at at a school board meeting in Loudon County, Virginia:

Race is to Critical Race Theory what class is to Marxism: a basic building block of society, which can only be defeated by a revolution that gives power to the formerly oppressed.

Perhaps the best response to Critical Race Theory comes from Frederick Douglass, the freed slave who became one of the foremost abolitionists of the 19th century, and befriended President Abraham Lincoln. Douglas said once that July 4 was a mockery to black Americans, because the United States had preserved slavery at its founding. And yet in that very same speech, Douglass noted that the principles of America’s founding would prove to be the salvation of the country.

America is imperfect, and does have a history of racial injustice. But the unique principles upon which it was founded were, and remain, universal, timeless, and non-racial.

Those principles of freedom are the solution — not the problem.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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