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The term “Critical Race Theory” has become a central pillar in both the Left’s manifesto and the Right’s arsenal of criticism against their radical opponents. Also known as CRT, the term is popping up in almost every element of American life, whether it be widespread propaganda in the nation’s classrooms, legislative policy which hinges on CRT, or the announcement that the theory is now part of a voluntary reading list for the U.S. Navy.
But what is Critical Race Theory?
It often seems like whenever CRT is explained, the waters are simply muddied further. For example, in “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, a section titled “What Is Critical Race Theory?” begins as follows:
The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars engaged in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up but places them on a broader perspective that includes economics, history, setting, group and self-interest, and emotions and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.
Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic are married, and work as professors in the University of Alabama School of Law. They are also both white.
While entire works can be dedicated to analyzing every tenet of the theory, Delgado and Stefancic actually provided an accurate description in their opening paragraph, indicating that the goal is to erase any specificity through added breadth.
Phrases like “studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism and power” are partnered with the open embrace of a “broader perspective” which includes every element of American society. Then, an additional layer of subjectivity is applied, making it impossible to disprove any assertion made as a consequence. Hence the inclusion of immeasurable notions such as “emotions and unconsciousness.”
The fundamental problem when it comes to CRT is that it has no true definition — an element that this is entirely intentional. Indeed, its advocates rely on its lack of definition as part of their defense. In the same way criticism of Antifa was dismissed — Antifa is “an idea, not an organization,” as Joe Biden argued in 2020 — CRT is deliberately kept in a fluid state in order to circumnavigate any and all criticism.
In reality, the foundational principles of CRT are indistinguishable from the core objectives of radical Leftism throughout history: to reshape society from the ground up:
Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.
Critical Race Theory, therefore, is simply a racial version of the standard Leftist objective. In the same way communists seek to rebuild society under an economic focus, Leftists are now attempting to leverage the subject of race in order to achieve the same ends.
What makes CRT so powerful in terms of this pursuit is that, unlike economics — which inescapably exists in a world of objective mathematics — the topic of race is at least partially rooted in the subjective. Terms like “emotions,” “unconscious racism,” and “implicit bias” allow those who promote CRT to completely avoid the need to prove their assertions, often relying instead on accusations of an inability to understand, or even the argument that criticism or disagreement is itself evidence of the very problem they’re trying to “solve.”
In simple terms, Critical Race Theory is the notion that race — in its broadest possible form — can be used as a magnifying lens with which to inspect and rebuild society from its very foundation.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.