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Critical Race Theory
Toxicity at its finest.
I intend for Euphoric Recall to be generalist in nature, but I also intend to focus on topics and things I’m passionate about. And, because I’m kind of a weird dude, this means content will vary widely.
That being said, it’s sort of inevitable that much of what I write about will be political, in large part because people politicize everything nowadays, and this week’s topic is extremely political.
Which is why before I even get into it, I want to once again emphasize something in the hope that my thoughts anon won’t alienate anyone: I'm not a liberal or a conservative, a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent—I don’t identify on the political spectrum. I'm an American. And God I know how cheesy that sounds, but it's truly how I see myself. The problem is, in a polarized society in which it’s become standard practice to openly identify yourself as left or right, any time someone says they don’t sit on either side of the ever-widening dichotomy, they’re immediately dismissed by fundamentalists as disingenuous, or even shamed for it, as if they simply lack the courage to say which tribe they belong to. But what they see as bullshit, I see as a dedication to uncertainty. To a respect for doubt. To a willingness to withhold judgement, and to change positions when that judgement is reversed. To the humility necessary to understand how much I don’t know, rather than the arrogance required to believe one is infallible.
I realize my opinions and views will surely fall under certain categories based on prevailing sentiments, but I don't care. So much discourse today is warped by this stupid dichotomizing and everyone having a hard-on for binary, absolutist positions. It serves no purpose beyond oneself.
Which brings us to Critical race theory.
Now, this stuff is complicated and involved and difficult to follow, but I'm going to try explaining it in a way that's understandable to anyone who's never heard of it. The bottom line up front: critical race theory (CRT) espouses blatant racism in the name of "anti-racism"; it's predicated on a false historical narrative; and it's morally repugnant.
I’d say there’s a pretty good chance that you haven’t heard of CRT, but I’m guessing you’re at least aware of the overall catechism to which it belongs because you’ve seen it in effect, even if you don’t realize it. I mean, it’s kind of hard to miss now that it’s the underlying philosophy of the majority of American cultural institutions, universities, media, corporations, liberal churches, NGOs, philanthropies, and, of course, mainstream journalism. A nebulous mix of academese that includes postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, and intersectionality, most scholarly types have been referring to it as the “Social Justice Movement,” and it has very unfortunately been the driving force behind the toxicity pervading every corner of American society and changing the very rationale of the institutions integral to liberal democracy. Adherents refer to themselves as “woke,” due to the belief that they alone have “awakened” to the nature of societal injustice.1
The influence of the Social Justice Movement (SJM) and these “woke” individuals is something that can be observed daily—most notably in the form of “identity politics.” Check the news tomorrow and doubtless you’ll come across a story about the latest casualty of the SJM mob’s wrath, some poor sap who’s been fired, or “canceled,” and subsequently subjected to a public shaming on social media for having said or done something—often decades ago, in many cases—that’s now interpreted as racist or sexist or homophobic and what have you. To be sure, some of these examples are warranted based on the severity and circumstances of the transgression(s), but more often than not the alleged misdeeds aren’t even remotely close to anything someone should have their livelihood and/or reputation destroyed for (i.e. — the USC professor who, while teaching a global markets communication class via Zoom, was discussing the use of pauses while speaking and giving an example of how Chinese speakers use filler words—in this case, nei ge, which means that in Mandarin. He was fired because some students complained it sounded like the “N-word.”)
Under the influence of SJM, we’re becoming a society that immediately thinks the worst of people instead of giving the benefit of the doubt. Even the most well-intended person with the kindest heart in the world who’s spent most of life publicly supporting equal rights and opportunities, respect for all people, minority empowerment, etc., all while making multiple, massive charitable contributions to various organizations, could inadvertently run afoul of the new speech codes and this dogmatic, radical leftist orthodoxy, and end up defenestrated with irreversible, devastating consequences to both career and reputation. And the part I hate most is the way people, most notably on Twitter (which, again, is where today’s priggish journalists live, and where they posture and preen in much the same way that teenagers on TikTok posture and preen because they, like them, are so hollow and insecure beneath all the platitudinous virtue signaling that they’ve developed a pathological need to see themselves as somehow exceptional and outstanding at all times), jump at the chance to pile on the invective, swarming with all the ardor and zeal of a pack of bloodthirsty jackals.
To a culture like ours that has spent centuries rooted in the political philosophy of liberalism (limitations of government, universal human rights, legal equality for all adult citizens, freedom of expression, respect for the value of viewpoint diversity and honest debate, respect for evidence and reason, etc.), this kind of junior high hall-monitor tattling is confusing and counterintuitive, and when it becomes institutionalized—which, unfortunately, it already has in many places—this bullying becomes authoritarian.
Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay do a great job of breaking down the Social Justice Movement and its propagators in their book Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody:
People who have adopted this view may be physically close by, but, intellectually, they are a world away, which makes understanding them and communicating with them incredibly difficult. They are obsessed with power, language, knowledge, and the relationships between them. They interpret the world through a lens that detects power dynamics in every interaction, utterance, and cultural artifact—even when they aren’t obvious or real. This is a worldview that centers social and cultural grievances and aims to make everything into a zero-sum political struggle revolving around identity markers like race, sex, gender, sexuality, and many others. To an outsider, this culture feels as though it originated on another planet, whose inhabitants have no knowledge of sexually reproducing species, and who interpret all our human sociological interactions in the most cynical way possible…We see radical relativism in the form of double standards, such as assertions that only men can be sexist and only white people can be racist, and in the wholesale rejection of consistent principles of nondiscrimination.
The beating heart of the SJM ideology is critical race theory, which has gained traction in no small part because of the upheaval witnessed this past summer in major cities around the country. CRT is an esoteric academic discipline based on a neo-Marxist ideology that substitutes race for class.2 It was first formulated in the 1990s, and has fast become the default ideology in our public institutions, pervading government agencies, public school systems, teacher training programs, and corporate human resources departments in the form of diversity training programs, human resources modules, public policy frameworks, and school curricula. Below are some basic tenets:
All of modern life is dictated by racial identity.
America was founded on racism (i.e. — the American Revolutionary War was supposedly fought to perpetuate slavery), and American institutions, such as the Constitution and our legal system, preach freedom and equality, but are mere “camouflages” for naked racial domination.3
Our unprecedentedly multicultural, and multiracial democracy is merely a front for white supremacy.4
All white people are inherently racist, and blacks cannot be racist because they have no power.5
Reason is a Western philosophical tradition that unfairly disadvantages women and racial minorities.6
All white people have profound deficiencies in moral character (simply because they were born white in a white-dominant society).7
Only people of color can talk about racism, and white people need to just listen because they don’t have the “racial stamina” to engage it.8
Not judging a person by skin color is, in fact, racist and an attempt to ignore the pervasive racism that dominates society and perpetuates white privilege.9
This is Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist and director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. Kendi is one of my least favorite people on the planet (yeah, I read his book; it was harder to get through than West Point). He also happens to be outside his fucking mind.
That "equity" word has been tossed around a lot lately, in no small part because the Biden administration seems to have a fetishistic attachment to the concept. But equity is not to be confused with equality. Perhaps the best way to explain what’s meant by equity is to explain what inequity is: any difference between any ethnic groups in their average outcomes in any field of life or work. In other words, any policy that leads to any racial differentials in anything that doesn’t roughly reflect the racial demographics of the society is ipso facto racist. If there are any neutral standards that suggest inequalities or differences of any sort between ethnic groups, they are also ipso facto racist standards. Indeed, the idea of any higher or lower standards for anything is racist, which is why Kendi wants to get rid of standardized testing (and why there are people who now believe math is racist, an absurdity that’s already resulted in some schools making execrable changes).
And so racism, according to Kendi and his zealots, is no longer about individual discrimination, but rather the “systems” that allow for disparities in outcomes. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, then the course must have been flawed and should be dismantled.10 In fact, any feature of human existence that causes disparate outcomes must be eradicated. There are many, many instances of this utter bullshit already in effect, but Zaid Jilani lays out a prominent example worth including here:
“Just look at the case of Denise Young Smith. Young Smith spent almost two decades working her way up in Apple, becoming one of the few black people to ever reach its executive team. She was named vice president of diversity and inclusion, and in 2017 traveled to the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia.
At the summit, she was asked by a reporter whether black women would be a priority in her new role promoting diversity in the company. In her answer, she described a lonely rise through the ranks: “I’ve been black and a woman for a long time. I have been a first, I’ve been an only,” she said. She talked about hearing from other black women in the industry who shared stories about people assuming they were the assistant or secretary rather than the manager.
Her words were a powerful testament to anyone who has ever been stereotyped or been on the receiving end of low expectations due to the color of their skin.
But then, despite all her years of hard work and accomplishments, she made a fatal mistake and breached the etiquette of high liberalism’s diversity culture. “You asked me about my work at Apple, or in particular, who do I focus on?” she said to the reporter. “I focus on everyone. Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color or the women or the LGBT or whatever because that means they’re carrying that around ... Because that means that we are carrying that around on our foreheads,” she replied.
Then she uttered the sentence that really got her into trouble: “And I’ve often told people a story—there can be 12 white blue-eyed blond men in a room and they are going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation,” she noted.
Within a week, the uproar over her comments forced Young Smith to write an apology. A few weeks later, her departure from the company was announced. She was replaced by Christie Smith, a white woman.”
What's more, Kendi doesn't support the goal of working toward a colorblind society (MLK’s dream) in which the pigment of one's skin, and race, is immaterial. Actually, “the most threatening racist movement is not the alt-right’s unlikely drive for a White ethno-state, but the regular American’s drive for a ‘race-neutral’ one.”
Just so we're clear on that last bit, Kendi believes that America working toward a society where race doesn't matter is more dangerous than the mutually agreed upon goal of neo-Nazis, the Klu Klux Klan, your garden-variety white power skin heads, and other white separatist factions (all of which are very, very active and full of the sort of individuals who revel in violent crime).
Toward the end of his book, Kendi lists how to be an anti-racist. Among the must-dos are “Invent or find antiracist policy that can eliminate racial inequity” and “Deploy antiracist power to compel or drive from power the unsympathetic racist policymakers in order to institute the antiracist policy.” They are all equally as vague, and it's hard not to discern what Kendi is implying, what you get the sense he so desperately wants to scream. But Kendi didn't beat around the bush as much in a politico symposium held not too long ago. The topic? How to fix "inequality" in America. His proposal? A constitutional amendment “that enshrines two guiding anti-racist principles: Racial inequity is evidence of racist policy and the different racial groups are equals.”
“It would establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA) comprised of formally trained experts on racism and no political appointees. The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas. The DOA would be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas.”11
There is a word for this: totalitarian. And the worst part? The Biden administration has already proposed a rule to make critical race theory part of the public school curriculum.
Look, it’s obvious I’m not a fan of this theory, this movement, this guy. But I still respect Kendi, just as I still respect everyone who’s adamantly for everything I’m not. However, this idea that we should reduce a person’s identity to race or outward appearance, ignoring the truth that people are complex, living and breathing stories, and that we should restrict our loyalties and determine our self-worth on the basis of race or tribe—this stuff doesn’t sit well with me, because it’s not right. It’s neo-segregation.
Quotes of the Week
"You knuckle dragging conservatives should be sent to the ovens." —An anonymous email sent to Senator Tim Scott from someone identified only as “Mildred50.” The (presumable) woman also called Scott, a black Republican from South Carolina who had the gall to declare that America is not a racist country, "the token Uncle Tom" and the N-word.
"To ensure the safety of our guests and team members, MLB, NFL, NBA, and Pokemon trading cards will no longer be sold in stores until further notice." —Target, in a national announcement, after the incredible resurgence of trading cards has led to everything from people opening cereal boxes in stores to get the Pokémon cards out of them, to someone pulling a gun during a fight over sports cards.
“I was able to get the slime onto his upper arm and a little bit on his lower arm...I knew that might be better evidence if the cops do find him.” —Alyssa Bonal, an 11-year-old Pensacola girl who was nearly abducted. She said she learned the importance of evidence from her favorite TV show, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Her intuition proved right, helping the police find her would-be kidnapper.
"I will be exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color." —Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has been refusing interview requests from white reporters because she believes the City Hall press corps is "overwhelmingly white."
Numbers and Figures
5.1 Million: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's earnings from his memoir (American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic) about leading New York through the COVID-19 pandemic.
50%: Percentage of nursing home deaths the Cuomo administration is believed to have undercounted, according to a report by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
$100: The amount that West Virginia will pay to those between the ages of 16 and 35 who get vaccinated, as a way to further incentivize vaccinations.
$19.7 million: The amount of money that will go to California public schools if the winning SuperLotto Plus lottery ticket is not redeemed. The winner of the $26 million lottery prize says that the winning ticket was accidentally washed away in a load of laundry.
1,000: The number of feral cats that have been released onto Chicago’s streets since 2012 in an attempt to control the city’s rat problem, according to an update from the Tree House Humane Society.
Reads from the Archive
Mental Health Break
Big boi needs helps getting in the car.
Doggos do the train ride.
Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody. Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay.
Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay.