Critical Race Theory on Trial

In his essay Critical Race Theory on Trial, Dr. Douglas Groothuis examines the precepts of CRT and explains that CRT is based on false assumptions (many inherited from Marxism) and makes false promises of justice through grievance, social engineering, and reparation. Dr. Groothuis latest book Fire in the Streets: How You Can Confidently Respond to Incendiary Cultural Topics contains a more indepth commentary on the subject.
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Critical Race Theory on Trial
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Critical Race Theory on Trial

Everyday we hear something about Critical Race Theory (CRT). My Google alert gives me five to ten references to the subject every day, taken from newspapers, journals, and television. We are told that CRT is necessary to understand America’s racist past or it doesn’t really exist or that it is hostile to essential American values. Either it should be taught in state schools or it should not be taught in state schools.

To untangle this disagreement, we need to define terms, identify influences, and make some informed judgments. Nothing less than our vision of America and our future is at stake, so we better get this right.

Rotten Roots in Marxism

It is no mere insult to say that CRT is based on Marxism. The facts bear it out abundantly as I document in Fire in the Streets. Patrisse Collors, a leader of Black Lives Matter (BLM), an activist wing of CRT, admitted this in a video, saying, “We are trained Marxists.” A “trained Marxist” is an activist, not merely a thinker. As Karl Marx said, the point is not to interpret the world, but to change it. Marxism has indeed changed the world, but not for the better.

CRT has been developed by a several thinkers, but one foundational intellectual is Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), the leading thinker of the New Left of the 1960s and 70s in America. Marcuse combined Marx’s economic views with the sexual philosophy of Freud, claiming that we need a sexual revolution as well as an economic revolution. He wanted to include sexual minorities into the movement for liberation along with workers, the poor in general, and people of color. Other thinkers such as law professor, Derick Bell (1930-2011), an influence on President Obama, claimed that America was still systemically racist and that the civil rights reforms brought by the civil rights movement were more cosmetic than substantive. Marcuse taught that conservative ideas should not be tolerated, given their intrinsic evil. Thus, he wanted to deny his ideological foes free speech—something we see in CRT today with its cancel culture.

Rotten Fruit from a Rotten Root

From the philosophy of Marxism, nothing good comes, given its fundamentally mistaken view of human nature, of civil society, and its false hope for a better world through revolution. If any worldview has been refuted by history, it is Marxism. The Marxist regimes of the USSR, China, and Cambodia were responsible for as many as one hundred million deaths in the Twentieth Century. These are not casualties in war, but citizens killed by their own government for being insufficiently revolutionary—that is, for thinking critically and not following the Party line. The counter-revolutionaries are exiled to camps or executed.

CRT is not orthodox Marxism, since it adds racial and sexual categories to its analysis of society. Yet it remains a dichotomist and conflict-oriented perspective. There are oppressors (whites) and the oppressed (People of Color-POCs and sexual minorities). Instead of assessing people as individuals with individual rights, they are placed into groups based on racial and sexual categories. So, all whites benefit from “white privilege” and should “check their privilege” and feel appropriately guilty as whites. For some, this means “taking a knee” as a sign of obeisance to POC. I will only take a knee for one person, Jesus Christ.

Much of the battle over CRT is being waged in the state schools where curricula pit whites against POC and denigrate the American system as originally racist and still systemically racist. Instead of teaching the founding philosophy of America (a republic under God and capable of self-reform), students are taught to be critical and suspicious of American ideals. Patriotism and the pledge are out. Confessing white privilege and the lessons of racial and sexual grievance are in.

Nothing good is gained from Marxism or its descendent, Critical Race Theory. CRT is based on false assumptions (many inherited from Marxism) and it makes false promises of justice through grievance, social engineering, and reparation. Instead of favoring an open marketplace of ideas, it deems the oppressors incorrigible and unworthy of free speech. The oppressors should not be refuted, but rather cancelled. Instead of working to hold America accountable to its founding creed, it wants to bring down the American system and replace it with a statist and socialistic civil government that insures particular racial outcomes irrespective of merit. Instead of valuing a free market, it deems capitalism as racist and wants to replace it with a socialism that will supposedly lesson racism.

President Biden’s administration is committed to CRT, whether or not it uses that phrase. CRT is taught in the military, in state schools, and in many governmental agencies. While our previous President banned the teaching of CRT through the federal government, the present President requires it and pushes it as far down our throats as he can.

The Way Forward

Now that the cat is out of the bag on CRT, many find the cat to be ugly and even dangerous. Many parents are challenging school boards to remove CRT or not allow it in the first place. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has signed a ban on teaching CRT in state schools. These struggles will likely continue, especially in education. Americans can admit their country’s terrible failures on racial matters without invoking CRT. We can work to implement the Declaration of Independence’s statement that “all men are created equal” by giving all people equal opportunities under law in the fear of God. Surely, this is the way forward, not the failed but adamant philosophy of CRT.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., is the author of Fire in the Streets: How You Can Confidently Respond to Incendiary Cultural Topics, published by Salem Books. It will be released on August 2, 2022. This book addresses the subject of this essay and offers constructive responses.

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