Is the tide turning against critical race theory?
Those invested in human dignity and the stability of Western societies have no doubt followed with interest the fashion known as critical race theory (CRT). Author James Lindsay, who has studied and written prolifically on the topic, explains that according to CRT:
race is a political construction that was invented by white people to give themselves power while excluding all other races from it, and racism is the ordinary state of affairs in society, present in all interactions, institutions, and phenomena, and effectively permanent in society.
Moreover, Lindsay warns that the movement driven by this belief “is both gaining significant amounts of power on nearly all levels—social, cultural, institutional, and legal,” and that it is “wholly inimical to the legal foundations of a free, liberal society filled with citizens who are equal under and before the law”.
CRT’s genealogy can be traced from Marxist thinkers like Antonio Gramsci and Herbert Marcuse, through the postmodernist movement, and emerging more clearly in intellectual movements in American law schools in the 1980s.
More recently, New York Times bestselling books like Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility (2018) and How to Be an Anti-Racist (2020) by Ibram X. Kendi have helped take CRT mainstream. Indeed, critical race theory was the lens through which George Floyd’s death was viewed by protesters and rioters, who took their grievances to hundreds of American cities during the summer of 2020.
Due to the divisive nature of CRT, and its tendency to (ironically) characterise white people as the main perpetrators of racism, former President Trump issued an executive order banning the teaching of CRT in all federal agencies through “race sensitivity workshops” and other such initiatives.
Many were encouraged by Trump’s executive order, viewing it as an overdue rebuke to this dangerous ideology. But on entering office, President Biden rescinded Trump’s executive order; dissolved Trump’s 1776 Commission which countered the CRT-inspired narrative that America’s history is defined by slavery; and has since made deeply divisive remarks about George Floyd’s death and race relations in the United States.
All of this has left observant Americans—and Westerners who study American cultural trends with bated breath, knowing that they generally go global—anxious about where CRT, unchecked, will take us.
However, in recent weeks, quiet victories have been won against critical race theory on the legal front. Journalist Christopher F. Rufo has been documenting—and driving—much of the legal pushback against CRT, having last year declared a “one-man war against critical race theory in the federal government”.
So far, that war is having some notable successes. Rufo, who is a contributing editor for the City Journal, last week reported that thanks to his army of families, parents, writers, lawyers, activists, and legislators:
state legislators in Idaho and Oklahoma have passed bills banning critical race theory indoctrination in public schools. The laws will prevent school districts from promoting race essentialism, collective guilt, and neo-segregation—in sum, it will stop state-sanctioned racism in the classroom.
He also shares the encouraging news that there are “bills in another half-dozen state legislatures and we hope that the largest red states will pass them in the coming months”. Rufo makes regular announcements on his Twitter feed regarding the progress of this legislation, which has included recent legal wins in Arizona, Tennessee, Utah, Arkansas and Texas.
Underscoring why these victories are so crucial, Rufo has issued his call to arms. “Right now conservatives, moderates, and anti-woke liberals must make a choice: will you stand against critical race theory or will you enable it?” He continues:
This will be the crucial battle in the years to come and we must make it clear where we stand. Conservatives must recognize that critical race theory is a threat to our foundational American principles; moderates and liberals must join us in the common cause against wokeness.
Fail to recognize this scourge, mislabel or downplay it… and you accept that America as we know her will cease to exist. She will likely do so not with a whimper, but with a bang.
The editors of the American Mind, an online magazine published by the Claremont Institute, have also issued a Statement Regarding ‘Critical Race Theory’ which is worthy of the reader’s attention. The tide does indeed appear to be turning against CRT, but it will take sustained efforts from many to see this continue.
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