Some Notes on Critical Race Theory (CRT)
by Nicholas Dykes
I must state immediately that I have not read a formal presentation of this theory by one of its advocates – for the simple reason that when I come across ideas which appear misconceived to the point of absurdity I feel no desire or need to pursue them further. However, when I learned that CRT was apparently being taught to young children in the USA as fact I was so appalled that I immediately wrote to warn my Member of Parliament here in the UK lest this poisonous nonsense cross the Atlantic and take root, as other absurd concoctions have already done, such as the intentionally divisive, explicitly racist, neo-Marxist regurgitation calling itself Black Lives Matter.
Since then I have been waiting expectantly for some US philosopher, perhaps from an Objectivist group, either ARI, TAS, or TOS – carrying on where thinkers as diverse as Ayn Rand, Antony Flew and others left off – to take up a logical bow and arrow and shoot this balloon of vacuous hot air out of the sky. As yet, I haven’t seen that happening, so I thought I might as well have a quick shot at it myself. (Although, since I do not follow the literature at all closely, I could easily have missed a Randian or other philosophical exposé of CRT’s falsity).
To start with, this theory, as I’ve seen it described, is a form of determinism. It asserts that one’s thoughts, behaviour and attitudes are preordained by one’s skin colour, or race. Other determinants previously put forward include social class, genes, environment, gender, nationality, and history. There’s a wide choice. Yet, whatever one chooses, all theories of determinism are subject to fatal flaws.
The first, as Brand Blanshard pointed out in Reason and Analysis, is that all theories of determinism are ‘self-stultifying.’ Their proponents, according to the theory, must be subject to whatever the theory preaches, hence are governed by it. The ideas they broadcast are determined in advance by whatever is supposed to do the determining, be that race, genes, class, etc. Hence he or she is speaking solely for his or her own self, their pronouncements cannot be universal. Not that that has ever deterred any of them. The classic case was Karl Marx. Born into a comfortable bourgeois family, he claimed to speak for the ‘proletariat.’
As an aside, David Conway’s book A Farewell to Marx explores most of the faults in Marxism comprehensively. Another, which also reveals the hypocrisy and outright villainy of the fellow, is Leopold Schwartzschild’s The Red Prussian.
Coming back to CRT, it asserts that white-skinned people are by nature oppressors. Oh? If that’s the case, one immediately wants to ask, how come there are so many poor whites on street corners begging from passers-by – any skin colour will do – or accepting handouts from the state – part of which dole is paid for by taxpayers with skin tones ranging from dark chocolate to a delicate pale brown.
To continue, proponents of deterministic theories clearly seek to persuade audiences of the truth of what they are proclaiming and hence want those who read or hear their pronouncements to change their minds. Yet, according to the theory, that is something which readers or auditors cannot do. According to the theory, as Tibor Machan has noted, to name but one critic, the recipients’ thinking is already determined by their class, genes, skin colour or whatever determinant is preferred. They cannot change their minds. The advocates of CRT, and all other determinists, are thus unavoidably flogging dead horses.
Moreover, if people of non-white skin colours are per se oppressed, as the theory asserts, how come Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Candace Owen, Larry Elder and a host of others quite clearly are not?
Alternatively, how did Arthur Ashe, Yvonne Goolagong, Michael Chang, Daley Thompson, Sachin Tendulkar, Lewis Hamilton, Abebe Bikila, Venus and Serena Williams, Usain Bolt, George Foreman, or world Scrabble champion Pakorn Nemitrmansuk – and countless other famous athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen, none of them white skinned – win titles, championships, races and tournaments? In the same vein, how do American football and basketball teams even function when a high proportion of their players are automatically oppressed by their very nature?
It is so glaringly obvious that sporting prowess isn’t remotely connected with submitting to oppression that CRT falls as flat as springtime cowflop before it’s even entered the field of ideas.
Looking elsewhere, if CRT is factual, how is it possible for the brown-skinned majority in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and other parts of Africa, to oppress those of white skin colour, as is presently happening? Or, looking back into history, how was it possible for Arabs to enslave black Africans, or black Africans to enslave black people from other tribes? Or Incas to enslave their neighbours, Moaris to enslave other Moaris, Japanese to enslave Chinese, or Chinese to enslave Tibetans and now Uighurs, and so on, and so on, throughout the long, sorry story of humanity?
The answer, of course, has nothing to do with skin colour or any other physical characteristic, but everything to do with initiation of the use of force. Darius of Persia, Alexander of Macedon, Roman emperors, Attila the Hun, Charlemagne, Inca chieftains, William of Normandy, Tamburlaine, Shaka Zulu, Japanese General Tojo, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin – none of these oppressors had, or have, the slightest interest in the skin colour or race of those they attacked. They merely wished to subdue them and thereafter to exploit them.
The dumbing down of education in the US and elsewhere in the West has long been commented on. The mere existence of CRT is proof of the pudding. How dumb can a person get? By espousing Critical Race Theory.
The only cure for this madness is, naturally enough, to get the state – that “coldest of all cold monsters,” as Neitzsche called it; adding, “whatever it sayeth it lyeth” – entirely out of education, a field it had no right to enter in the first place and where so many state-employed teachers and professors are currently lying to their pupils and students.
Just as Ronald Reagan sacked all U.S. air traffic controllers for breaking their contracts and deliberately risking the safety of passengers, so all public school or university teachers of CRT should be sacked immediately for breach of trust; for deliberately endangering young people, and for poisoning young minds by preaching irrational, illogical, unhistorical, and demonstrably racist nonsense.
PS: I am indebted to Stephen Hicks, Senior Scholar at the Atlas Society, for some helpful advice, and for references to excellent articles and discussions of CRT by Glenn Loury, Christopher Rufo and others, including himself, which sharpened my focus on aspects of CRT not touched on here; such as the hypocrisy, sheer wrong-headedness, and casual, couldn’t-care-less cruelty of this pernicious dogma, and of those who propagate it.