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Critical Race Theory, the Face Behind the Mask, and Why Rob Samson Was Right

Critical Race Theory (CRT), has been “marching through the cultural institutions,” an expression often used by Marxist Antonio Gramsci, since the early 2000s.

The theory itself, according to an illuminating piece written by Christopher F. Rufo, draws upon previous work done “on updated social psychological research on unconscious bias in order to justify affirmative action; and work relying on law and economic methodology to examine structural inequality and discrimination in the workplace.”

CRT’s reliance on activism and personal narration, rather than scientific inquiry and historical research, means that it is not only a theory but an activist practice. Political radical Will Oremus argues that "The theory [is] radical... in the sense that it questions fundamental assumptions.... And unlike some strands of academic and legal thought, critical race theory has an open and activist agenda, with an emphasis on storytelling and personal experience. It's about righting wrongs, not just questing after knowledge.... Many of their ideas are not radical today in the sense of being outside the mainstream: Critical race theory is widely taught and studied."

Yes, but CRT has long escaped its academic prisons in major universities and now has leeched into the cultural institutions it plans to subtly subvert.

Some common themes in CRT may very well derive from Gramsci’s critique of the Communist effort to replace capitalism with a functioning socialist state in the developed West. Marxist-Leninist thought had failed to penetrate cultural institutions in the West, Gramsci correctly reasoned, and the saturation of Marxian theory – the “long march of communism through the institutions” – was necessary to the success of the Marxist-Leninist venture outside the borders of the then Soviet Union.

CTR has had a face, and has shown its face to the institutions it has targeted, for the last 15 years at least. It is no longer a hidden, little understood theory. Its principal enemy is not conservative thought but the classical liberalism of the post enlightenment period, the liberal body of ideas the founders of the United States relied upon when they created a durable new republic.

Here are two among many other features of CRT easily obtained from available public resources. In defending himself recently on the floor of the state Senate against charges that the fears of his constituents were largely imaginary, state Senator Rob Samson, noted that CRT was no stranger to scholarly inquiry.

Wikipedia, a site sometimes used by journalists to give shape and unction to their stories, makes note of CRT’s “Critique of liberalism: “Critical race theory scholars question [and reject] foundational liberal concepts such as Enlightenment rationalismlegal equality, and Constitutional neutrality, and challenge the incrementalist, step-by-step approach of traditional civil-rights discourse;[they favor a race-conscious approach to social transformation, critiquing liberal ideas such as affirmative actioncolor blindnessrole modeling, or the merit principle; and an approach that relies more on political organizing, in contrast to liberalism's reliance on rights-based remedies.”

It identifies Intersectional theory as an indispensable element of CRT: “The examination of race, sex, class, national origin, and sexual orientation, and how their combination (i.e., their intersections) plays out in various settings, e.g., how the needs of a Latina female are different from those of a black male and whose needs are the ones promoted.”

Such common elements, the A-B-C’s of Critical Race Theory, are present in CRT’s assault on American jurisprudence, sternly resisted by judges and lawyers who do not wish to throw into the trash bin of history the centuries old, organic development of both constitutional and statutory law, in favor of an emotion driven, post-Marxist jurisprudence that relies heavily on personal narration and history as edited by air-brushing CRT activists.

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner argued as far back as 1997 that critical race theory "turns its back on the Western tradition of rational inquiry, forswearing analysis for narrative…By repudiating reasoned argumentation, [critical race theorists] reinforce stereotypes about the intellectual capacities of nonwhites." And former Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski lamented in the same year that critical race theorists had raised "insuperable barriers to mutual understanding" and thus eliminated fruitful opportunities for "meaningful dialogue.”

Like the rain that falls on the just and unjust, CRT is now trickling down in the education front, one of the most important of Gramsci’s cultural institutions; neither is the media an avoidable institutional cultural target for revolutionary change.

Samson has exposed himself to the usual contumely by waving warning flags over a partly conquered educational empire ruled more increasingly by state legislators, less and less by municipal school directors who will, despite entreaties, feel the bite of state interference in what used to be local political jurisdiction over their schools.  As expected, some uncomfortable pedagogues in education schools have been forced to insist that if they walk like CRT ducks, quack like CRT ducks, and swim in CRT ponds, they are not CRT ducks.

Parents in some communities who are suspicious of the transformative nature of a full bore CRT have voiced complaints. They have been marked as racists.

Still Samson slogs on, pointing out the supreme irony that precisely those lawmakers who most heatedly object to racism are now, wittingly or unwittingly, imposing upon municipal school systems a bill that forces once locally directed schools to adopt a race based notion straight out of the CRT playbook -- that the evils of discrimination once viciously directed at African Americans, Catholics, Hispanics, and women, can only be reversed through equally discrimination directed at “whites”, whatever “white” means.

White is a color, not a race. Black is a color, not a race. Brown, when used of Hispanics, Asians and others, is a color, not a race.  Members of the court, reporters in media, and pedagogues in schools, should be race blind, as recommended by Fredrick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Rob Samson.


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