By James C. Sherlock
A couple of journalists, Sara Gregory and Matt Jones, today wrote the front page story of the print edition of Virginian Pilot.
It was titled “Critical Race Theory Explained” and was presented as news, not opinion.
These lines are more and more blurry every day. I wish they weren’t, but that’s not my objection.
People are entitled to their own opinions on Critical Race Theory and its implementation in K-12 schools. Honest people can disagree.
But a newspaper does not have the right to wrongly redefine ideas that form the basis of active public debate and then criticize one part.
It happened here.
Ignorance or dishonesty?
To write this I had to decide whether the authors and their editor, if they had one at the shrunken Virginian-Pilot, were simply ignorant or deliberately misleading.
The paper is on its last legs, and the staff are working from home, so in the triumph of hope over experience, I leave with a theory of ignorance / incompetence.
The article offers “some answers to what critical race theory is – and what lies behind the political war that has engulfed schools across the country.”
He thus created high expectations that he absolutely failed to redeem.
The authors of the VP report:
“(Critical Race Theory is) an academic framework that tries to explain how race and racism affect people’s lives.”
“Critical Race Theory says inequalities persist not only because of people’s prejudices, but because racism is ingrained in American legal and cultural systems.”
But, then write the authors, clearly distressed and disapproving:
“Critical Race Theory has become a common expression because of a campaign to make it one by distorting its meaning. “
Its meaning has been distorted, but not by parents or “right-wing organizations” as the authors claim.
Old political axiom: “If you get killed by your position on something, ‘reframe it.’ Presto.
The VP article positioned the CRT as a perfectly reasonable “framework” to move the company forward, but then offered a defense by redefining the term and saying what it is. do not:
“Teaching students to think critically about race is not the same as critical race theory taught to much older students. General efforts to improve diversity or create equity fall outside the critical framework of racial theory. “
“The framework is taught in college and law school classrooms, not K-12 schools. “
Nothing to see here, parents.
Ignoring? Illusion? It doesn’t matter.
I decided to look for definitions at the institution where Critical Race Theory was founded and where it continues to be centered, Harvard Law School.
One of the reasons I “credit” authors with ignorance is that they seem to not know that Harvard is the keeper of this particular flame.
The source is the Harvard Law School Bridge Project.
Critical perspectives on rights
From Harvard Law:
“The critique of rights developed by critical legal theorists has five basic elements:
• Rights discourse is less useful for ensuring progressive social change than liberal theorists and politicians assume.
• The legal rights are indeed indeterminate and inconsistent.
• The use of rights discourse retards the human imagination and mystifies people about how the law actually works.
• At least as prevalent in American law, the discourse of rights reflects and produces a sort of isolated individualism that hinders social solidarity and the true human bond.
• The discourse on rights can in fact hamper the progressive movement for genuine democracy and justice.
Disturbing, but important to know.
The authors of VP referred to “critical thinking” about race. So let’s examine Harvard’s definition of critical theory.
“A family of new legal theories, launched since 1970, shares a commitment to critique not only particular legal rules or outcomes, but the broader structures of conventional legal thought and practice. According to critical jurists, dominant legal doctrines and conceptions perpetuate models of injustice and domination by whites, men, the wealthy, employers and heterosexuals.
“The ‘critical’ dimension of critical legal studies includes not only efforts to expose flaws, but also affinity with other theoretical projects and social movements. A variety of academics and lawyers have come together to organize symposia, workshops and other projects under the titles of Critical Legal Studies, Feminist Legal Theory, and Critical Race Theory.
The Harvard definition failed to mention that the critical theory came from the anti-capitalist Frankfurt school founded during the Weimar Republic to “westernize” Marx (the Russian revolution had turned out to be less advanced for society than hoped) by adding elements of Hegel and Freud.
But let’s move on to donations at Harvard.
Critical breed theory
Harvard Law School’s “The Bridge” project wrote that the CRT is:
“Not a set of abstract principles, but rather a body of people struggling inside and outside legal scholarship, critical race theorists are engaged in building a movement to eliminate oppression.” racial and other forms of group oppression. Scholars pursue individual paths, methods and ideas. Nonetheless, they converge around the belief that racism is endemic, not aberrant, in American society; that the liberal legal ideals of neutrality and color blindness reproduced rather than defeated racism; this analysis must be informed by personal experience and contextual and historical studies; and that pragmatic and eclectic strategies should be pursued in the struggle for racial and social justice.
The VP’s article quoted a professor at the University of Arizona who was of the opinion that:
“It’s about looking at systemic inequalities”… “If you and your actions support this, then you might feel bad about it, but there’s nothing inherent that says white people need to. feeling bad and that white guilt is a central part of it in any way, form or form.
Sorry, Professor, but Harvard is begging you to disagree. His description of the CRT contains the following sections:
- Critique of liberal anti-racism –
- Researchers “have demonstrated the failure of racial blindness struggles to dislodge white supremacy.”
- Criticism of whiteness –
- Race is “a product of social power processes”.
- “Exposing and dismantling the usually invisible privileges of whites is a related major goal of critical race research. “
- “Cheryl Harris has developed a conception of whiteness as a property, a resource of considerable value and an investment with massive legal protections. “
- Rethinking race and society.
- Patricia Williams juxtaposes analyzes of forensic opinions with reflections on struggles against racism on campuses, her own encounters with race-based prejudice, and her observations of how a person undergoing gender reassignment surgery was. avoided by people of all kinds. “ In these and other works, critics of race offer compelling visions alongside their critiques of white racial and cultural domination.
- Intersectionality and division.
- “Rejecting the idea of race as a natural category, critical race scholars join feminists and queer theorists in the effort to unearth social, cultural and legal constructs of identities. ”
- “Even progressives tend to erase the situations of women of color in their analyzes and proposals or to force these same people to choose a group defined either by race or by sex. Here, critical race theorists join with some feminist theorists in pointing out the potential fluidity and latitude for challenging gender, racial, and gender identities. Mari Matsuda, for example, urges new types of laws to accommodate “multiple consciousness” framed by conflicting and intersecting experiences of group oppression.
It’s easy to see who “tweaked” Harvard’s basic definition above.
The same vice president story informed us that the New Yorker “assigned the all movement (anti-CRT) at the plea of (Christopher) Rufo.
Helpfully, to set expectations, they identified Rufo with Fox News and President Trump. – the loudest dog whistles in the waking universe. Do they believe that:
- no parent could see what was going on in their children’s schools and legitimately oppose it?
- Has anyone but Rufo read Kendi?
To have the authors read Kendi?
A right-wing plot to exercise parental rights
“In recent months, right-wing organizations have released textbooks explaining how supporters can pressure school boards and other elected officials to speak out against critical race theory – or to impeach them if they don’t. not. ”
They failed to point out that the backlash was a response to years of statements of intent and now the implementation of CRT in K-12 education. It was preceded by widely reported efforts from across the racing industry, including top selling books and massively overpaid speakers at faculty meetings.
Today, teachers’ unions are proudly committed to these precise principles.
So of course, many parents are now standing up to challenge critical race theory in K-12 schools.
Maybe these parents actually read the source documents like the ones above before giving their opinion.
What a design.
It’s getting worse.
In Part 2, I will discuss the perspective of the same Virginian-Pilot article on social and emotional learning and the “protection” of transgender children by the new VDOE standards.