White guilt, anti-white racism, communism, socialism, what do all of these things have in common? They’re all bundled together into the latest thought-terminating cliche conservatives have latched onto; CRT.
What is CRT?
For conservatives, CRT, or Critical Race Theory, is a boogeyman. It’s when children are taught to hate themselves because they’re white, it’s when their teachers say they need to bow their head in reverence and adulation whenever a minority walks past and apologizes profusely. It’s all the bad things. In reality, CRT is an offshoot of Critical Legal Studies, and nearly everyone who isn’t an outright race-realist or similar miscreant would agree with the major points that it contends. The primary thrust of this theory is in the name itself, we are being critical of the idea of race. That is, the social construct of distinct human races is based almost entirely on pseudoscience. Are there differences between the “Races”? Certainly, pigmentation of the skin, facial features, and susceptibility to certain diseases are different between us, but under no scientific definition in any other animal would this lead to a classification of a separate “Race”. And any person with basic knowledge of evolution would understand that the amount of time the “Races” were separated could not lead to distinct races either. Most people understand this almost intuitively, namely, when it comes to the concept of “whiteness”.
What is White?
One of the best ways to quickly get an understanding of how absolutely inane the concept of race and whiteness, in general, is to look back at our history. When the United States first began, white meant Anglo-Saxon, British, English. Benjamin Franklin himself argued this, that even “the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans“, but this has changed. White nationalists and the like today would call all of these demographics “White”, it’s a constantly expanding and amorphous category. When we first had mass immigration of Italians, Germans, or the Irish, we treated them as subhuman. They weren’t white, they weren’t even people. Now even the most unhinged person you’ll likely speak to either in real life or on the internet will say they are absolutely white. Another contention of CRT is that with this upgrade to the status of “White”, individuals are given a set of privileges.
Becoming the Default
“White Privilege”, it’s not a card you carry around to get special treatment, it’s being treated as the default everywhere you go. For a “White” person, it’s incredibly seldom, if ever at all, you’ll think to yourself, “Are they treating me this way because of my race?”, but for a minority, that’s a common occurrence. For advocates of CRT, this occurs due to both the past discrimination that stunted the growth of minorities in America and subtle forms of bias that inhabit everyone. I’m often reminded of the Avenue Q song, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” when I try to explain implicit bias to someone. Via our experiences, our social connections, and the media we consume, we come to certain prejudices about people, places, and things, and this affects the way we act in society. Whether positive or negative, this exists within all of us.
The “Race” Race
Conservatives I speak with often discount past discrimination, and will often tell me that you can’t just keep talking about the past, it’s all about personal responsibility. So, maybe an analogy will help with that. We’ve all run a relay race before, in school or elsewhere. You run a short distance and hand a baton off to the next. The first conservative runner reaches over and hits the African American in the kneecap with his baton, and runs to the second conservative runner who places hurdles in front of the second African American’s path, finally, he makes it to the third conservative runner, who wins the race. Thirty minutes later when the African American runners finish the race, the third conservative runner looks over and says, “Oh come on now, don’t just blame everything on what happened in the past, take some personal responsibility, you’re just slow”. But then again, most reasonable people when confronted with these ideas would agree with them. When conservatives say CRT, they don’t mean any of this, or at least they don’t want any of this to show up in the listener’s head.
A Package Deal
This all began several years ago, spearheaded by Christopher Rufo. Saying explicitly, “I am quite intentionally redefining what ‘critical race theory’ means in the public mind, expanding it as a catchall for the new racial orthodoxy. People won’t read Derrick Bell, but when their kid is labeled an ‘oppressor’ in first grade, that’s now CRT”. So what do we do now? We’re always on the back foot, because there are legitimately some things being taught in school that are quite cringe-inducing like the “Math is racist” hoopla that was being taught to teachers in a single school. There are also some examples in the corporate world, with Coca-Cola teaching that being on time to work is a “White” thing. These are legitimate complaints against certain schools of anti-racist advocacy, but CRT they are not. But when you argue against a conservative, it will always look weak and unconvincing to say, “That’s not CRT” and then launch into a lengthy explanation of basic fact. They don’t care, because they didn’t actually want to talk about CRT. They wanted to talk about all the bad things, and that’s just what they’re calling all the bad things these days.