Salvo 04.21.2021 5 minutes

Standing Against Critical Race Theory

Washington monument in Washington DC, United States of America, USA

Conservatives and non-woke liberals must draw a line in the sand against racialized indoctrination.

In September 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning federal agencies and contractors from conducting training sessions based on critical race theory. Specifically, the order banned “race or sex stereotyping,” “race or sex scapegoating,” and teaching that “an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.” In short, the executive order made sure that all training sessions complied with the basic framework of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: there is no place for racism in the federal government. 

In a healthy society, this would be uncontroversial. After all, until just recently, Americans of all political backgrounds seemed to agree that racial stereotyping, scapegoating, and harassment are unacceptable, especially in the workplace. However, with the rise of the academic movement known as critical race theory (CRT), progressives in academia and the bureaucracy have revived the ugly concepts of race essentialism and race-based guilt, arguing that white Americans can be reduced to the quality of “whiteness” and must undergo rigorous reeducation to atone for their inborn “white privilege,” “white fragility,” and “internalized racial superiority.”

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris reversed Trump’s executive order immediately upon taking office. This was a fulfilment of their campaign promises to stress “equity” and oppose “race-neutral policies.” Articles have proliferated in the press celebrating this reversal of Trump’s supposedly “damaging” and “harmful” “position on racism.”  The Biden/Harris regime has embraced the philosophy of critical race theory, which explicitly rejects the American principles of individual rights, meritocracy, and equality under the law. This administration has shown itself committed to apologias for CRT, and we can expect much more of the same in the years to come.

During the campaign, Never Trump conservatives and moderate liberals argued that Biden would govern as a centrist and restrain the worst impulses of wokeness. They were wrong, and probably knew it. Even before the election Biden signaled his intention to implement an “FDR-style first 100 days,” using executive orders to advance a broad agenda on “racial injustice”—which in its execution has borrowed heavily from the critical race activists who dominate the intellectual world of the modern Left.

This week the federal Department of Education announced plans to distribute grants to public schools that agree to implement CRT-influenced pedagogy that stresses “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically responsive teaching and learning practices,” which “contribute to what has been called an ‘identity-safe’ learning environment.” Specifically citing the New York Times’ flawed and tendentious 1619 Project and the work of Ibram X. Kendi as models, the proposed new federal rule would center the “social identities” and “the diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences” of students in establishing, as Kendi says, “that racist policies are the cause of racial inequities.” This proposal will do no less than convert our schools into centers of indoctrination in an invidious, divisive ideology that is contrary to the American ideal and way of life.

Now is the time to speak out. Conservatives—and moderate liberals who oppose critical race theory—must publicly oppose Biden’s reversal of President Trump’s executive order. The media will continue disingenuously to frame the issue as reinstating “diversity training.” They will also, be forewarned, attempt to smear naysayers as racist. But the truth is in the text of the order: its reversal eliminates protections against racial stereotyping, scapegoating, and harassment. This makes reversal an implicit endorsement of the idea, outlined in the order, that “America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country” and that “some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors.”

Biden has now opened the floodgates for critical race theory to permeate our institutions. Again, the stakes could not be higher. As I have reported, critical race theory trainings explicitly endorse racial segregation, race-based guilt, and ritual humiliation. These are not seminars with coffee and snacks. They are more akin to re-education classes. Whistleblowers who have undergone the training sessions describe them as “firing squads” that enforce a radical Left ideology and seek to punish and eventually purge dissenters. If the Biden administration is left unchecked, diversity bureaucrats will expand their power and accelerate these divisive programs at all levels of government.

The deepest problem, however, is not merely the propagation of critical race theory in training sessions—it is the ideology itself. Critical race theorists reject the founding principles of the United States. In their theoretical work, they “attack the very foundations of the liberal legal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.” In addition, they reject capitalism and property rights in favor of property seizure and large-scale land and wealth redistribution. Finally, critical race theorists contend that even nonwhites can be complicit—unwittingly or otherwise—in propping up “white supremacy” and “white power structures.” If the critical race theorists had their way, it is not an exaggeration to say that they would abolish the United States and start over from scratch.

Right now conservatives, moderates, and anti-woke liberals must make a choice: will you stand against critical race theory or will you enable it? This will be the crucial battle in the years to come and we must make it clear where we stand. Conservatives must recognize that critical race theory is a threat to our foundational American principles; moderates and liberals must join us in the common cause against wokeness.

Fail to recognize this scourge, mislabel or downplay it as so much post-modern argle-bargle that will fade in the dust like an old deconstructionist, and you accept that America as we know her will cease to exist. She will likely do so not with a whimper, but with a bang. Already the radicalized factionalism encouraged by critical race theorists (and editors of The New York Times) is spilling out into the street.

I affirm the statement, issued by the editors of The American Mind, explaining why critical race theory and its attendant ideology is reprehensible and contrary to American values. We must not succumb to the pernicious contemporary tendency to subsume individuals to their immutable characteristics, or to reject the sacred notion of equality under the law in pursuit of socially-engineered “equity.” I call on all people of good faith to read the statement, assimilate it into their worldview, and disseminate it widely.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

Suggested reading from the editors

to the newsletter