‘CRT’ Means ‘Compounding Racial Tension’

Last month, Jodi Shaw resigned from her staff position at Smith College. An alumna of the school and now a divorced mother of two young children, Shaw had been required to attend staff trainings based on critical race theory (or CRT), which told her to apologize for her white privilege, to see others as members of a race, and to accept her identity based on her skin color, not “the quality of my work, the goodness of my deeds, the essence of my character, and the fullness of my heart.”

By now, most are aware of race-conscious programs like this. Alternately called “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI), “white privilege,” “implicit bias,” and antiracism, they’re part of employee trainings in federal agencies and in corporations. They share the premise that all individuals of European descent harbor racial bigotry, whether they know it or not. This bigotry explains differences in achievement between whites and those called people of color (POC).

Such theories are ignorant, destructive, and malevolent. They appear designed to foment racial tension, not relieve it, and they represent a complete repudiation of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of America as expressed in his famous “I Have a Dream speech, where he longed for the day his children would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Indeed, these theories constitute “neo-racism.” Most derive from a tired Marxist nihilism that reduces everything to material conditions and power struggles based on race, class, ideology, or sex.

No American should go near this poison and, obviously, no tax money should ever support it. More importantly, anyone of decent character seeking to serve God or his neighbors should condemn it. 

Those rewriting American history away from limited government, individual rights, and the land of opportunity to “diversity is our strength” have encountered so little resistance that their next steps were even bolder: Unsubtle attacks on “whites” as always bigoted and therefore always in need of reeducation by million-dollar “white privilege” consultants.

When researcher Christopher Rufo saw how far these programs had advanced in the federal government, he told then-President Trump, who was horrified. Trump issued Executive Order 13950, Combatting Race or Sex Stereotyping, which reaffirmed the ethic of individual rights and dignity, not tribalism. It also established opportunity, not neo-racism, as the American way. 

In response, many schools such as the University of Iowa suspended their “diversity” programs to remove offending content, a sober indicator of how prevalent neo-racism has become in higher education. It also suggests rank illegality at many schools, since EO 13950 simply reinforced already existing federal law against “hostile environments” based on race via Titles VI and VII. 

The Biden Administration’s rescission of  EO 13950 is, therefore, more symbolism than substance, although it will certainly encourage CRT and similar programs, especially since the rescission was accompanied by a new executive order, “Advancing Racial Equity.” “Equity” is now code for uniform outcomes, or predetermined results, as distinct from equal opportunity, which gives everyone a chance. The former is a lie based on coercion; the latter recognizes freedom and invites excellence, as evidenced in professional sports as distinct from academia and government.  

CRT is also coming to the states, where bills for tribalistic “ethnic studies” have been introduced and where tax dollars are being appropriated to support them. 

Legislating Ignorance

How are these theories ignorant? Racial tension is universal—part of humanity, existing at every place and time. No spot on the globe is free of it. That said, the most virulent and persistent racial tension, according to Kathleen Brush’s book, Racism and anti-Racism in the World: Before and After 1945, is in non-Western regions such as the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

India’s caste system, for example, is ancient and perdures despite efforts to ban it. Japan’s ethnocentrism is well-known and its “Rape of Nanking—an attack on a people deemed inferior—was so horrific that the author who documented it committed suicide. Tribal wars have plagued Africa for centuries, including into the modern era, as the 1996 Rwandan massacres between Hutus and Tutsis and amputations by rebel soldiers in Sierra Leone grimly remind. Even today, Myanmar is ethnically cleansing the Rohingya people there.

America’s race industry is completely silent about these modern tribal atrocities, cautionary tales of what racial tension can become. They are also silent about those currently suffering in slavery, primarily in Africa and the Middle East but also in Asia—right now, for example, China is enslaving the minority Uyghur population. Instead, Americans dwell on the commercial slave trade of the 17th and 18th centuries, facilitated by Africans themselves, apparently to demonize America and Europe as somehow uniquely bad. But America and Europe are not unique in practicing slavery; they are unique in abolishing it.

What is really going on here? First, the term white really means of European descent, lumping together more than 40 nations and even more languages and peoples. The term white actually removes one’s ethnic heritage as Irish Catholic, Eastern European Jewish, or Northern German Protestant.

Second, since the one thing held in common by those of European descent is their Christian heritage—Jews were a small minority in Europe—it is hard not to see attacks on Europe’s descendants as really an attack on Christianity, notwithstanding how secular the West has become and how Christian most American blacks are. Until recently, of course, the Western world was called “the Christian West” or “Christendom.” One notes that diversity and the new racialism find currency only in Western nations, not in places like Japan, Israel, or China. What’s more, Black Lives Matter, ostensibly for the lives of American blacks, called for the dismantling of the traditional family alongside advocacy for sexual license and abortion, and the taking of money from Planned Parenthood, the abortion giant. Is this really about race? 

Reject Racialism’s Lies

So, what now? 

Christ said, “make disciples of all nations,” meaning nations, ethnic groups, and different languages are real—part of humanity. And just as all differences—between men and women, between mothers and daughters, between fathers and sons—involve some tension, the tension among nations and ethnic groups is also real.

America is unique as a nation in wanting to transcend this tribalism and base its citizenship on ideas, found in our Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the source of our unity as being endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. That unity is also real and much more profound and compelling than identity politics. Anything that buries the Declaration’s truths in favor of “diversity,” “ethnic studies,” or CRT is not simply anti-American but is actually out to destroy America: Savage tribalism reigns in much of the world and it can reign here too if the Declaration is not restored to its central place in the American social fabric. 

If we want to save America, we need to banish things like CRT—and support people like Jodi Shaw. 

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About Teresa R. Manning

Teresa R. Manning is the policy director at the National Association of Scholars and a former law professor at Scalia Law School, George Mason University.

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