The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is how knowing the enemy is critical for defending against them. The topic for tonight is critical race theory, which is becoming embedded in most of the institutions in America. However, Americans are becoming aware of it and looking for directions.
Christopher F. Rufo knows much about critical race theory and spoke about it at Hillsdale College on March 30, 2021. He began his talk by explaining the origin of it.
In explaining critical race theory, it helps to begin with a brief history of Marxism. Originally, the Marxist Left built it political program 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 gain consciousness of their plight, seize the means of production, overthrow the capitalist class, and usher in a new socialist society.
Rufo explained that there were several regimes that “underwent Marxist-style revolutions [in the 20th century], and each ended in disaster.” These regimes included the “socialist governments in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba, and elsewhere racked up a body count of nearly 100 million of their own people….” The “Marxist intellectuals in the West” recognized the failures in the mid-1960s, so they changed their tactics.
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 dialectic 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.
The Marxists were thwarted in their efforts in the 1960s by the civil rights movement. Instead of overthrowing America, proponents of the civil rights movement “sought instead the fulfillment of the American promise of freedom and equality under the law. The radical Left did not give up and started to introduce critical race theory into institutions. Rufo gave a good description of critical race theory.
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 the default ideology in our public institutions. It has been injected into government agencies, public school systems, teacher training programs, and corporate human resources departments in the form of diversity training programs, human resources modules, public policy frameworks, and school curricula.
Rufo explained that proponents of critical race theory use euphemisms to describe it, words like “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching.” They are “masters of language construction” who realized that Americans would not buy “neo-Marxism.” So, they use equity. This word “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, UCLA Law Professor and critical race theorist Cheryl Harris has proposed suspending private property rights, seizing land and wealth, and redistributing them along racial lines. Critical race guru Ibram X. Kendi … has proposed the creation of a federal Department of Antiracism. This department would be independent of (i.e., unaccountable to) the elected branches of government, and would have the power to nullify, veto, or abolish any law at any level of government and curtail the speech of political leaders and others who are deemed insufficiently “antiracist.”
One practical result of the creation of such a department would be the overthrow of capitalism, since according to Kendi, “In order to truly be antiracist, you also have to truly be anti-capitalist.” In other words, identity is the means, and Marxism is the end.
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. Historically, the accusation of “anti-Americanism” has been overused. But in this case, it’s not a matter of interpretation – critical race theory prescribes a revolutionary program that would overturn the principles of the Declaration and destroy the remaining structure of the Constitution.
Rufo said, “Critical race theorists must be confronted with and forced to speak to the facts.” He suggested numerous questions to ask.
Do they support public schools separating first-graders into groups of “oppressors” and “oppressed”? Do they support mandatory curricula teaching that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism”? Do they support public schools instructing white parents to become “white traitors” and advocate for “white abolition”? Do they want those who work in government to be required to undergo this kind of reeducation? How about managers and workers in corporate America? How about the men and women in our military? How about every one of us?
Rufo said that there are “three parts to a successful strategy to defeat the forces of critical race theory: governmental action, grassroots mobilization, and an appeal to principle.” We see states stepping up and passing laws to keep critical race theory out of their schools. Former President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned training programs for critical race theory in the federal government, but President Joe Biden rescinded this order on his first day in office.
According to Rufo, “a multiracial and bipartisan coalition is emerging to do battle against critical race theory” with parents “mobilizing against racially divisive curricula in public schools. Employees are speaking out against it in their workplaces. In the third matter of principles, “we need to employ our own moral language rather than allow ourselves to be confined by the categories of critical race theory.” Rufo concluded his talk, “Truth and justice are on our side. If we can muster the courage, we will win.”