Ever hungry to accuse people

John McWhorter argues that it’s fine to call the Ibram Kendi-type anti-racism “Critical Race Theory” even though it’s not the actual law school Critical Race Theory, in part because people who say it isn’t fine are just playing rhetorical games. I’m still not convinced, but he says some interesting things (as he always does).

Since a year ago, CRT-infused members of The Elect, traditionally overrepresented in the world of schools of education, have sought to take the opportunity furnished by our “racial reckoning” to turn American schools into academies of “antiracist” indoctrination.

Schools of education – that’s one of the interesting things. From what I’ve read they can be quite faddy and at the same time anti-intellectual. If they’re full of Robin DiAngelos then I at least see what he’s getting at.

The early writings by people like Regina Austin, Richard Delgado, Kimberlé Crenshaw are simply hard-leftist legal analysis, proposing a revised conception of justice that takes oppression into account, including a collective sense of subordinate group identity. These are hardly calls to turn schools into Maoist re-education camps fostering star chambers and struggle sessions.

However, this, indeed, is what is happening to educational institutions across the country. Moreover, it is no tort to call it “CRT” in shorthand when:

1) these developments are descended from its teachings and

2) their architects openly bill themselves as following the tenets of CRT.

Not a tort but not useful either, I think.

Now – are there some among critics of today’s CRT who just want us to stop talking about race at all? Are some of them the kind of white person who thinks racism of any note basically ended in the 1960s and that today we need to “stop stirring all of that stuff up”? Likely. But the evidence that this is the heart, the primum mobile, of resistance to “CRT” in our schools is comic book stuff.

Is anyone taken seriously actually proposing that students should learn nothing of slavery in school, or that students should never be taught that racism is anything but cross-burning and the N-word? Or, is it that a certain kind of person goes about ever hungry to accuse people of this aim, in order to fulfill their duty of identifying racism wherever they can find it?

Ok wait a second. In general I don’t have the temerity to challenge McWhorter, but there I think he’s doing a bit of fancy footwork himself. It depends what you mean by “taken seriously.” Of course there are people who are taken seriously who propose that or similar versions of it, it’s just that they’re taken seriously by people who vote for the MTGs and Gaetzs and Trumps.

In a dialogue premised on good faith, we can assume that when politicos and parents decry “Critical Race Theory,” what they refer to is the idea of oppression and white perfidy treated as the main meal of an entire school’s curriculum.

Ok but maybe there should be significantly more teaching about oppression than there has been in the past?

I don’t know for sure. Maybe in practice it’s a bad idea, maybe it only makes things worse. But I think there’s still an awfully big lump under the rug.

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