Progressives have reacted with outrage, and no small amount of panic, to the swiftness with which the anti-Critical Race Theory movement has gained ideological and now political traction. In their rear-guard action, they have employed at least five lies, which now require unmasking.
What follows is a non-exhaustive attempt to do just that.
1) CRT is not taught in schools
This is the one most often heard, the most superficial and the easiest to dispel. Indeed, the smartest of the progressives, such as Rui Teixeira, have begun advising their ranks to abandon this clearly failed blunder. Still, the Joy Reids of this world outnumber the Teixeiras, so it’s worth taking a crack at this first.
Of course long, turgid texts by Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw (godfather and godmother of the discipline, respectively) or any other CRT apologist, are not being assigned to third graders. To do would probably constitute child abuse and violate several UN guidelines. But what matters in CRT is the praxis — the application of the discipline to real life in order to transform it — and this is certainly being done.
Though CRT praxis was already in evidence in k-12 prior to 2020, the spasmodic disruption of American society by the Black Lives Matter organizations last year has made CRT explode. Such implementation of CRT (which is what praxis is) violates the law, especially the Civil Rights Act and the Constitution, which prohibit, respectively, treating students differently because of their race or national origin, and government’s unequal treatment of Americans because of their race.
As we can see here, school boards and teachers unions have been a great deal more forthcoming with their use of CRT, and we thank them for their candor.
2) CRT is just a way to give previously marginalized people the attention they have lacked
This is probably the most pernicious of the lies. We heard it most recently from the lips of Brian Stelter, who probably was not being pernicious in intent — just repeating something he had heard. This particular lie is based on the CRT (and earlier, Critical Theory) notion that physical reality may be apprehended through the five senses, but is comprehended through the conceptual superstructure that orders our thinking. In the race variant of CT—that is, Critical Race Theory—that superstructure is “white supremacy,” which in the words of CRT scholar Richard Delgado is embedded in “the ordinary business of society.” The conceptual superstructure is Eurocentric and wrongly universalizes a male, cisgender, white view of the world. It therefore must be problematized (destroyed).
CRT, however, is not in the least bit interested in bringing minority voices to the forefront of debate. Witness the caustic, overly dramatic language that Bell himself used when George HW Bush appointed Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, or for that matter the cruel buffoonery of Michael Eric Dyson in his treatment of the Lt. Gov. elect of Virginia, Winsome Sears. CRT is only interested in promoting leftist voices that will help overthrow what they see as America’s cultural hegemony, with their preferred counter-hegemony, which is Marxist (see Lie No. 3).
What obtains then is the monolithic progressive thinking we see now on display in the media, the academy, entertainment, and now the White House.
None of the CRT’s policy approaches (no holds-barred racial preferences, the acceptance or even celebration of out of wedlock births, or the view that looting means redistribution) would in the least help people of any race or national origin.
3) CRT is not Marxist
This is a lie spread by those who know it to be a lie, and then repeated by the gullible (whom the Kremlin used to affectionally call “useful idiots”). All of the CRT firmament knows itself as being Marxist, an affirmation made by Angela Harris, Delgado and others. Critical Race Theory came straight out of Critical Legal Theory (sometimes known as Critical Legal Studies), which came out of the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, which was the first and most important of the Western Marxist schools and which (along with Antonio Gramsci) replaced Karl Marx’s economic determinism with the view that the cultural superstructure (or hegemony) was what dictated the actions or non-actions of the workers, not material relations.
4) Those opposed to CRT just don’t want history taught
Here we have a bold-faced lie. It is not true of anyone in the space that I inhabit. I have never heard Chris Rufo, James Lindsay, Lindsey Burke, Jonathan Butcher, Jay Greene, Nicole Neily, Max Eden, or anyone else with whom I have collaborated express a sentiment even close to this. We all want American history taught, warts and all. Do we want children to be told the liesof the 1619 Project — such as, for example, that the colonists rebelled because they feared Britain would end slavery? No. Because that came from the pen of a fabulist. Nobody in their right mind would want their children to be taught that 2+2=5, either.
5) The Use of CRT is a cynical ploy by Republicans
This falsehood is repeated sometimes by even people who believe there is a problem with what schools are teaching, but who hold also that CRT has been wrongly used by the anti-CRT movement. What we in this movement label CRT is CRT. Far from a cynical ploy, we can say that what is being waged at the moment is battle royal for the soul of America, if not the West itself.
What the purveyors of CRT want to do is to replace what they regard as the American hegemonic narrative of white supremacy with their counter-narrative, which is Marxist (see No. 3). That is part of a long-term strategy, first conceived by Gramsci, to infiltrate cultural institutions, and destroy society’s conceptual framework. Last year’s mayhem facilitated their bid to usurp power. The anti-CRT push back is just a matter of the American people confronting this strategy and saying No!
These then are the lies told by the folks propagating CRT, and their useful idiots. Don’t fall for them.
Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, is the author of “BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution.”