• by:
  • 2021-05-26
  • Source: The American Dossier
  • 06/02/2021
I’m sick and tired of “critical race theory,” and you should be too! After all, just think of the racial divisiveness it has introduced precisely at a moment when we ought to have been reaping the fruit of growing reconciliation.  The temptation to kick CRT to the curb is mighty strong.  But, hold on!  Before we dismiss it from our thoughts, let us ponder an interesting question – namely, have we learned anything useful from this historical spasm?

Well, we can at last perceive that those who have attempted (too often successfully) to impose CRT on the entire culture of the United States (and the western world) have inadvertently revealed an ugly truth: namely, that those established in power are leagued against the rest of us – the powerless.

This observation derives from the central tenet of CRT – namely, that human history, consisting of a struggle between oppressors and oppressed (the powerful and the powerless) must eventually right itself in the powerless rising to power and overthrowing the unjust and merciless control of the powerful.  If that sounds like Marxism’s struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat, that is only because that is where CRT borrowed the argument. 

However, the relevance of that argument here and now is the role it should play in our understanding of the situation in which we find ourselves. For we have every reason to gauge from empirical observation that the powerful in society today are those who have achieved privileged positions of command in the name of which they seek to impose CRT on the rest of us.  That is, the powerful today are the authoritarians seeking to impose CRT across the board throughout the society.

The military and intelligence agencies are engaged full throttle in demanding adherence to CRT. Higher education has long since been immersed in the imposition of CRT across the board. Corporate leaders have begun to impose economic punishments on peoples in jurisdictions that are insufficiently deferential to CRT, and their counterparts in monopoly media blacklist those deemed insufficiently “woke.” Government leaders now make it a matter of eligibility to receive government contracts and, moreover, seek to impose it as a condition for receiving tax-funded support throughout public education.  Such impositions are present at every level of the society, from the national to the municipal.

The list could be lengthened. This, however, is sufficient to illustrate that the most powerful people in the United States today are those who demand and will impose CRT on everyone else.  That is, they are the powerful and we are the powerless.  Their message to us: submit or be crushed – be “canceled,” denied opportunity to earn a living, denied opportunity to publish, and be broadly shamed.
Since this is the relationship in which we the powerless stand to society’s overlords, then it must necessarily follow that it is in fact we who are being subjected to unjust treatment by the privileged. In that case, it is we, therefore, who have the right to rise up and overthrow the powers that be. While that is not the result CRT intended, it has inadvertently notified us that our situation is dire. Either we will succumb to the arbitrary rule of masters (who like slave masters of old will claim benignly to “clothe and feed us”), or we shall resist by any means necessary such raw and unjust applications of power.

It is important to be clear: when we use the language of “by any means necessary” we mean by “all means effectual.”  Nothing is more certain than that school officials in the Virginia county who have ordered the removal of advanced algebra and calculus as offerings to students on account on those subjects giving vent to “white privilege” can not be turned back by reason.  For they have already rejected reason as a criterion for judgment. They give the orders they give not because of the power of argument but because of the power of the privilege that they hold.

Therefore, in this case, as in all like cases, there can be no remedy other than to eliminate the privilege that they hold.
That holds true for school boards just as it does for generals and secretaries in the military and the cabinet of the United States. Those who have seized the privileges that they hold to act to the disadvantage of the powerless will not yield to petitions for redress. I do not discourage petitioning or demonstrating or any other means of civil resistance to unjust laws and policies. But I emphasize that the powerful can not be expected to change course on account of a change of heart.  Accordingly, change will be impossible unless their privileges are stripped away.  They must be overthrown.

Nor are the means of identifying their weaknesses and opportunities for resistance such a mystery. For corporations, disinvestment and non-participation will eat away at privilege as moths eat through wool. For military services refusals to serve are absolute trump cards. For government agencies turning their leverage against them will seriously erode their authority. For example, as they send more uninvited checks to citizens under the presumption that we will succumb to material want and accept spiritual rot in the bargain, it would suffice – not to reject the checks – but to receive them and pass them on straightway to their political and economic adversaries.

But where matters of conscience are directly at stake – such as the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech – no mode of resistance will ever be more effective than the prophet Daniel’s open window: open if respectful defiance of commands that cannot be obeyed.
In summary, therefore, we may be sure that critical race theory is the snake at the breast, revived from winter’s freeze by a warm-hearted country only to pour its venom into the very heart of that country. Such vipers should be destroyed.  But let us learn from the ingratitude and trickeries not only how to rid ourselves of it but to profit from the opportunity to secure ourselves henceforth by paying attention to the weaknesses that it has exploitedI’m sick and tired of “critical race theory,” and you should be too!

After all, just think of the racial divisiveness it has introduced precisely at a moment when we ought to have been reaping the fruit of growing reconciliation.  The temptation to kick CRT to the curb is mighty strong.  But, hold on!  Before we dismiss it from our thoughts, let us ponder an interesting question – namely, have we learned anything useful from this historical spasm?

Well, we can at last perceive that those who have attempted (too often successfully) to impose CRT on the entire culture of the United States (and the western world) have inadvertently revealed an ugly truth: namely, that those established in power are leagued against the rest of us – the powerless.

This observation derives from the central tenet of CRT – namely, that human history, consisting of a struggle between oppressors and oppressed (the powerful and the powerless) must eventually right itself in the powerless rising to power and overthrowing the unjust and merciless control of the powerful.  If that sounds like Marxism’s struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat, that is only because that is where CRT borrowed the argument. 

However, the relevance of that argument here and now is the role it should play in our understanding of the situation in which we find ourselves. For we have every reason to gauge from empirical observation that the powerful in society today are those who have achieved privileged positions of command in the name of which they seek to impose CRT on the rest of us.  That is, the powerful today are the authoritarians seeking to impose CRT across the board throughout the society. The military and intelligence agencies are engaged full throttle in demanding adherence to CRT. Higher education has long since been immersed in the imposition of CRT across the board. Corporate leaders have begun to impose economic punishments on peoples in jurisdictions that are insufficiently deferential to CRT, and their counterparts in monopoly media blacklist those deemed insufficiently “woke.”

Government leaders now make it a matter of eligibility to receive government contracts and, moreover, seek to impose it as a condition for receiving tax-funded support throughout public education.  Such impositions are present at every level of the society, from the national to the municipal. The list could be lengthened. This, however, is sufficient to illustrate that the most powerful people in the United States today are those who demand and will impose CRT on everyone else.  That is, they are the powerful and we are the powerless.  Their message to us: submit or be crushed – be “canceled,” denied opportunity to earn a living, denied opportunity to publish, and be broadly shamed.

Since this is the relationship in which we the powerless stand to society’s overlords, then it must necessarily follow that it is in fact we who are being subjected to unjust treatment by the privileged. In that case, it is we, therefore, who have the right to rise up and overthrow the powers that be. While that is not the result CRT intended, it has inadvertently notified us that our situation is dire. Either we will succumb to the arbitrary rule of masters (who like slave masters of old will claim benignly to “clothe and feed us”), or we shall resist by any means necessary such raw and unjust applications of power.

It is important to be clear: when we use the language of “by any means necessary” we mean by “all means effectual.”  Nothing is more certain than that school officials in the Virginia county who have ordered the removal of advanced algebra and calculus as offerings to students on account on those subjects giving vent to “white privilege” can not be turned back by reason.  For they have already rejected reason as a criterion for judgment. They give the orders they give not because of the power of argument but because of the power of the privilege that they hold. Therefore, in this case, as in all like cases, there can be no remedy other than to eliminate the privilege that they hold.

That holds true for school boards just as it does for generals and secretaries in the military and the cabinet of the United States. Those who have seized the privileges that they hold to act to the disadvantage of the powerless will not yield to petitions for redress. I do not discourage petitioning or demonstrating or any other means of civil resistance to unjust laws and policies. But I emphasize that the powerful can not be expected to change course on account of a change of heart.  Accordingly, change will be impossible unless their privileges are stripped away.  They must be overthrown.

Nor are the means of identifying their weaknesses and opportunities for resistance such a mystery. For corporations, disinvestment and non-participation will eat away at privilege as moths eat through wool. For military services refusals to serve are absolute trump cards. For government agencies turning their leverage against them will seriously erode their authority. For example, as they send more uninvited checks to citizens under the presumption that we will succumb to material want and accept spiritual rot in the bargain, it would suffice – not to reject the checks – but to receive them and pass them on straightway to their political and economic adversaries.

But where matters of conscience are directly at stake – such as the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech – no mode of resistance will ever be more effective than the prophet Daniel’s open window: open if respectful defiance of commands that cannot be obeyed.

In summary, therefore, we may be sure that critical race theory is the snake at the breast, revived from winter’s freeze by a warm-hearted country only to pour its venom into the very heart of that country. Such vipers should be destroyed.  But let us learn from the ingratitude and trickeries not only how to rid ourselves of it but to profit from the opportunity to secure ourselves henceforth by paying attention to the weaknesses that it has exploited
 
Professor William B. Allen is a professor of Political Philosophy at Michigan State University and (for the 2008-09 academic year) Senior Visiting Scholar at the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University. During a 2006-07 sabbatical leave, he served as the Ann & Herbert W. Vaughan Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program on American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. His areas of expertise include the American founding and U.S. Constitution; the American founders (particularly George Washington); the influence of various political philosophers (especially Montesquieu) on the American founding; liberal arts education, its history, importance and problems; and the intersection of race and politics.

He served previously on the National Council for the Humanities and as Member and Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has published extensively, most notably, George Washington: A Collection. His most recent book is George Washington: America’s First Progressive (P. Lang, 2008), and his Re-Thinking Uncle Tom: The Political Philosophy of H. B. Stowe should appear in the coming year. He previously published Habits of Mind: Fostering Access and Excellence in Higher Education (with Carol M. Allen).
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