State Media Defends Critical Theory

Barbara Sprunt, for National Public Radio, in “The Brewing Political Battle Over Critical Race Theory,” describes CRT as “an academic approach that examines how race and racism function in American institutions.” I’m a sociologist who has taught law and society, race and ethnicity, and social theory (among other things) for a quarter century. I teach critical race theory. I understand it. I’m not going to let NPR lie about it.

NPR turns to academics to back up its claim that opposition to CRT is a reflection of right-wing anxieties. They didn’t talk to me. Believe me, academics are among the most deeply indoctrinated people on the planet. As cultural managers, it is crucial to get them on board, and decades have been spent recruiting people into humanities and social sciences to take up and dissiminate New Left and postmodernist doctrines. The truth is that CRT is an illiberal doctrine masquerading as an academic approach. That it prevails in our cultural institutions demonstrates the success of corporate power leveraging the neo-Marxist strategy of the “long march.”

Sprunt quotes Republican Ralph Norman as saying, “Critical race theory asserts that people with white skin are inherently racist, not because of their actions, words or what they actually believe in their heart—but by virtue of the color of their skin.” Norman is correct. According to CRT doctrine, white people are racist by virtue of their skin color. The only way to lessen one’s racism is to be an ally by proclaiming anti-racism and anti-whiteness. You cannot be non-racist, according to the anti-racist worldview. This is why you are forced into diversity training sessions—you are presumed racist. Denying you are racist is a sign of fragility, which loops back to race privilege, which whites possess at birth.

CRT asserts that our legal system is an institution designed by whites to reproduce white racial power. CRT says MLK, Jr.’s dream of a colorblind society is a form of white power. King was, from this view, a naive preacher sucking up to white people. He bought into the American creed, which CRT claims to reveal as racist. CRT rejects colorblindness for law and policy based explicitly on racial categories. CRT is a system of formulas that pull social structures from thin air. Its fallacies make it easy to demolish, but you have to escape the church of the woke to get the critique.

What makes CRT so fundamentally illiberal, and by that I mean authoritarian, is that it equates liberalism, the foundation of law and policy in the West, the ideas that make of free people, with white supremacy. It then demands the dismantling of white supremacy by dismantling the present legal order. CRT seeks to replace Enlightenment notions of individual rights and the presumption of innocence, with the burden of proof lying with those making accusations, with group-based rights, and the presumption of guilt on that basis, with no possibility of denying guilt, thus shifting law and policy away from a equality to equity, where those have less take from those who have more on the basis of racial identity.

If it is unclear from which group wealth is to be appropriated, then let me make it clear: white people owe black people because of things dead white people did to black people a long time ago. It’s a doctrine of original sin, and whites are the eternal sinners. CRT leads us into the absurdity of poor whites enjoying race privilege while rich blacks suffer race oppression. You can only get to that lunatic conclusion by assuming all whites are racist.

The function of CRT is to distract the masses from class struggle and economic inequality by ramping up antagonisms and resentments based on supposed tribal differences. That it’s the Democrats pushing this, while Republicans, especially the populists, resist it, tells you which party best represents the interests of the ruling economic class. That progressives push open borders and populists push back is another clue as to who best represents the ruling economic class. CRT and open borders benefits corporations and the protects the system that secures their power.

We see the same thing in the United Kingdom, where the Labour Party has redesigned its politics to appeal to affluent white progressives and a constellation of minority groups claiming victimhood status over against working class Brits. Populism in the West is pushing back. This is why we hear so much in the corporate media about white reactionaries resisting CRT. But they aren’t white reactionaries. They have liberal instincts.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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