Welcome to the latest front of the culture war between conservatives and liberals, “Critical Race Theory.” What most on either side of the issue do not realize is that objectively speaking, “Critical Race Theory” should be heartily supported by traditional conservatives. However, the key terms in the previous sentence are “traditional conservatives,” which will be addressed later in this article.
What is the classic definition of political conservatism? Check a dozen of the most respected references, and as with political liberalism, there are a dozen different answers. In fact, there are more similarities than differences between the two political schools of thought.
Consider the following statements of principle:
- People are normally responsible for their own conduct.
- Government should minimize its involvement in people’s lives.
- People should earn their way in life and not depend solely upon charity.
- People should not be prejudiced against others’ race, religion, or ethnicity.
- People should obey the law and respect the rights of others.
- Moral truths are permanent.
In this writer’s experience, almost everyone of every political stripe will agree with all those statements for different reasons, giving truth to the old saying, “There’s more that unites us than divides us.”
Critical Race Theory
Just as it was necessary to define conservatism, Critical Race Theory (CRT) must also be defined. The Pointer Institute provides an accessible description:
[CRT] holds that racism is part of a broader pattern in America: It is woven into laws, and it shows up in who gets a job interview, the sort of home loans people are offered, how they are treated by police, and other facets of daily life large and small.
—Jon Greenberg and Amy Sherman, poynter.org
In other words, Critical Race Theory states that racism is not an aberration, but a tragically normal part of daily life for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in America, a facet of everyday existence forced upon them by law and tradition. CRT clearly implies that racism and bigotry are endemic in every walk of life, a trap from which BIPOC cannot escape without a fundamental change in our nation’s laws, culture, and society itself.
Unfortunately, there are many who, whether as matters of political philosophy or ignorance of what CRT really is, are adamantly opposed to allowing even discussion or debate of CRT in any academic setting.
Opposition to Critical Race Theory
Blaming CRT for “Identity Politics”
In their article Critical Race Theory, the New Intolerance, and Its Grip on America, Jonathan Butcher and Mike Gonzalez of the influential conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation rail against CRT, blaming the movement for all America’s current racial ills. In the article, the authors imply that not only is racism in America neither systemic nor pervasive, but also that CRT is itself responsible for ‘identity politics,’ and for the government being forced to accept identities such as “Hispanic” and “Asian-American.” They further decry the promulgation of CRT information in all educational settings, from primary to post-secondary.