Critical race theory is fast becoming America’s newest doctrine that unfortunately is creeping into America’s classrooms. Like the recent change of our school names in the southern campus, one only has to look to our neighboring counties in Northern Virginia to see the precursor to the tidal wave about to hit us. Yet I suspect many in here in the Valley have never heard of Critical Race Theory and of those who have, many don’t understand it. It’s time for this to change – we need to know what it is so we can recognize it in both our schools and workplace and know how to fight it head on.
In understanding critical race theory, it helps to begin with a brief history of Marxism. Originally, the Marxist Left based its political agenda on the theory of class conflict. Marx believed that the primary characteristic of industrial societies was the imbalance of power between capitalists and workers. The solution to that imbalance, according to Marx, was revolution: the workers would eventually seize the means of production, overthrow the capitalist class, and usher in a new socialist utopian society.
During the 20th century, a number of regimes underwent Marxist-style revolutions, and each ended in unmitigated disaster. Socialist governments in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea and elsewhere are responsible for the deaths nearly 100 million of their own people. They are remembered for their gulags, show trials, executions, and mass starvations.
By the mid-1960s, Marxist intellectuals in the West had begun to acknowledge these failures. They recoiled at revelations of Soviet atrocities and came to realize that workers’ revolutions would never occur in Western Europe or the United States, where there were large middle classes and rapidly improving standards of living. Americans in particular had never developed a sense of class consciousness or class division. Most Americans believed in the American dream—the idea that though hard work they could transcend their origins through education, hard work, and good citizenship.
But rather than abandon their Leftist political project, Marxist scholars in the West simply adapted their revolutionary theory to the social and racial unrest of the 1960s. Abandoning Marx’s economic construct of capitalists and workers, they substituted race for class and sought to create a revolutionary coalition of the dispossessed based on racial and ethnic categories.
Fortunately, the early proponents of this revolutionary coalition in the U.S. lost out in the 1960s to the civil rights movement, which sought instead the fulfillment of the American promise of freedom and equality under the law. Americans preferred the idea of improving their country to that of overthrowing it.
But the radical Left has proved resilient and enduring—which is where critical race theory comes in. Critical race theory is an academic discipline, formulated in the 1990s, built on the intellectual framework of identity-based Marxism. Relegated for many years to universities and obscure academic journals, over the past decade it has increasingly become a default ideology in our public institutions. Unfortunately, it has been injected into public school systems, teacher training programs, and school curricula.
There are a series of euphemisms deployed by its supporters to describe critical race theory, including “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching.” Critical race theorists are masters of language manipulation and realize that “neo-Marxism” would be a hard sell. Equity, on the other hand, sounds non-threatening and is easily confused with the American principle of equality. But the distinction is vast and important. Indeed, equality—the principle proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, defended in the Civil War, and codified into law with the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—is explicitly rejected by critical race theorists. To them, equality represents “mere nondiscrimination” and provides “camouflage” for white supremacy, patriarchy, and oppression.
In contrast to equality, equity as defined and promoted by critical race theorists is little more than reformulated Marxism. In the name of equity, Progressives have proposed suspending private property rights, seizing land and wealth, and redistributing them along racial lines.
An equity-based form of government would mean the end not only of private property, but also of individual rights, equality under the law, federalism, and freedom of speech. These would be replaced by race-based redistribution of wealth, group-based rights, active discrimination, and omnipotent bureaucratic authority.
Thus far, attempts to halt the encroachment of critical race theory have been ineffective. There are a number of reasons for this. First, too many Americans have developed an acute fear of speaking up about social and political issues, especially those involving race. Worried about getting mobbed on social media, fired from their jobs, or worse, they remain quiet, largely ceding the public debate to those pushing these anti-American ideologies.
Those who have had the courage to speak out against critical race theory have tended to address it only on the theoretical level, pointing out the theory’s logical contradictions and dishonest account of history. These criticisms are worthy and good, but they fail to move the debate into our schools, which is friendly terrain for proponents of critical race theory and where parents are unaware of what is being surreptitiously inserted into our children’s curriculum.
Truth and justice are on our side – only if we muster the courage, can we keep this nonsense out of our schools.