Salvo 11.18.2021 3 minutes

The Equitarian Mind

Low Angle View Of Windsock Against Sky

Banning Critical Race Theory won't solve the problem.

Critical Race Theory is on the ropes, if you believe what you read in the papers. This pernicious hypothesis lost the Democrats the governorship in Virginia, is repelling moderates around the country, and is even bringing mainstream media types like Bill Maher to denounce it as nothing more than “virtue signaling.” 

On the other side, proponents insist that CRT is a strawman, an arcane law school topic about the deep structure of legal institutions that is being employed by the forces of reaction as a dog-whistle to summon its racist foot soldiers to harass public school administrators and provide ammunition for halfwit Fox News shouters. According to the left, CRT is not only not a threat to anyone, it barely exists. It is being used as a screen for Confederacy enthusiasts to reimpose the Dunning School of American history and deny the legacy of racism. 

The problem is that the Left, while meretricious, isn’t entirely incorrect. One will seek in vain to find explicit references to CRT in public school curricula. Leftists chuckle over interviews with CRT opponents where they are asked to define Critical Race Theory or explain where they have encountered it—the ensuing stammering and hemming doesn’t do a lot for the intellectual reputation of the supposed devotees of constitutional republicanism.  

It’s not that CRT doesn’t exist, or is or isn’t taught in schools. Critical Race Theory and its associated mental apparatus of equality-of-outcome, group-based historical guilt and responsibility, and constant foregrounding of race do underlie public education and every other institution run by the Left. But it’s all buried so deep that uprooting it would require a revolution in thought and an upheaval of culture. 

The American right is addicted to thinking in terms of quick fixes that don’t require sustained commitment. If we pass legislation banning CRT, that will solve the problem: teachers won’t be allowed to teach it anymore, and the issue is over. But “Critical Race Theory” is a stand-in for an entire habit of mind, a way of seeing the world that is essentially unbannable. Equitarianism already dominates how teachers, bureaucrats, journalists, and most college graduates think and explain things. The idea of banning “Critical Race Theory” makes teachers snicker, because it really isn’t on the syllabus, any more than “the syntax of language” or “the order of numbers” is on the syllabus. Critical Race Theory in the broadest sense is so basic to how teachers think that it is the syllabus. 

In order to counter equitarian thought—the idea that America is so shot through and rotten with racism that every aspect of society needs to be reconstituted along reparative, redistributionist lines—we need a true counter-revolution that is as sustained and aggressive as what the Left has been promoting for at least 60 years. This would mean pulling our kids out of public school, relentlessly unplugging from Hollywood, and meming endlessly against the machine.  

Critical Race Theory is a useful windsock that indicates where the real target lies. But we don’t want to waste our ammo shooting at a windsock.  

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

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