I’m sure you’ve heard that beginning tomorrow, Governor Baker has declared we can now forego wearing masks outside. I’m looking forward to watching soccer games this weekend where I can actually see my children’s faces, and we can all give up the charade that masking our youth in sports is “trusting the science.” Baker also projected that most, if not all, COVID restrictions will be lifted by August 1st.
Although demasking outdoors is better than a perpetual “New Normal” of limited gatherings and constant masking, we’re not out of the woods yet. Earlier this week, MFI received a call for help from a local church that is being investigated by the “Epidemic Intelligence Unit” (EIU). A parishioner had tested positive for COVID and listed the church as a place he had recently visited when this unit first called him. That led to the church facing demands from the EIU to turn over the names of church attendees and the dates of their attendance.
There are two important things to note here. First, churches are under no obligation to report anything to this unit that is assuming authority it does not have. Even setting aside the obvious First Amendment implications of this type of intrusion on the free exercise of religion and the freedom of assembly, the Governor’s own guidelines for churches do not require such information sharing. Churches are instructed only to “assist the LBOH (local Board of Health) as reasonably requested to advise likely contacts to isolate and self-quarantine.” This means the church communicates information from the LBOH to its people, NOT that it must hand over personal information to the LBOH. Incredibly, the EIU sent the church this memo which purports to authorize them to collect “necessary demographic information, specifically: full name, date of birth, address, phone number, and race and ethnicity.” But that memo applies only to “Healthcare Providers and Facilities.” It does NOT apply to churches. In addition to which, and for obvious reasons, churches should not ever submit attendee lists to the government.
Second and equally alarming, the EIU is NOT the local Board of Health. It’s not even a government entity. MFI is still looking into this, but so far, it appears that the EIU is part of the Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC) that is run by Partners In Health (PIH). PIH describes itself as follows:
We are a social justice organization that responds to the moral imperative to provide high-quality health careglobally to those who need it most. […] We bring the benefits of modern medicine to those who have suffered from the overt and subtle injustices of the world, in the past and in the present.
Curiously, according to the PIH website, churches are literally first on their list for where to look for infection. “During a global pandemic, an infection can happen anywhere—a church, a car wash, a grocery store.”
So, just to recap, a self-identified “social justice organization” is using the state’s imprimatur (incorrectly) to demand churches turn over to them the names, contact information and attendance dates. If your church is contacted by the Epidemic Intelligence Unit or the Contact Tracing Collaborative, please call MFI at 781-569-0400. We’ve helped many churches over the past year resist unnecessary and unconstitutional government intrusion into our sacred spaces, and we’re here to help you as well.
As recently as last summer, few people outside academia had heard of critical race theory, whose central claim is that racism, not liberty, is the founding value and guiding vision of American society. Then, President Trump issued an executive order last September banning the teaching of this “malign ideology” to federal employees and federal contractors.
Trump’s ban was blocked by a federal judge in December and immediately revoked by Joe Biden upon occupying the White House in January. Since then, federal agencies and federal contractors have resumed staff training on unconscious bias, microaggressions, systemic racism, and white privilege — some of the most common but also most disputed concepts associated with the four-decade-old academic theory.
Now critical race theory is about to face a major real-world test: a spate of lawsuits alleging that it encourages discrimination and other illegal policies targeting whites, males, and Christians. But unlike Trump’s executive order, which ran into First Amendment problems by prohibiting controversial speech, the lawsuits name specific policies and practices that allegedly discriminate, harass, blame and humiliate people based on their race.
‘A Trojan Horse’
The common thread of these legal challenges is the inescapable logic that making accommodations for critical race theory will erode the nation’s anti-discrimination law as it has developed since the 1960s. This would mean replacing the colorblind ideal of treating all people equally, which has been widely viewed as the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement, with a contrary strategy: implementing race-based policies, which can range from affirmative action to reparations for compensating African Americans for the injustices of the past and for producing equitable outcomes in the future.
“Critical race theory is a Trojan horse of sorts,” said David Pivtorak, a Los Angeles lawyer representing two white men who are suing two California state environmental agencies. “It disguises itself as the gold standard of fairness and justice but, in fact, relies on vilification and the idea of permanent oppressor and oppressed races. Its goal is not ensuring that all people play by the same rules, regardless of race, but equity, which is a euphemism for race-based outcomes.”
About a dozen lawsuits and administrative complaints have been filed since 2018, with another wave planned this summer by conservative public interest law firms and private attorneys. Their goal is to draw attention to some of the more pronounced practices and win court judgments to slow down the spread of CRT in K-12 schools, government agencies other organizations.
‘Take A Step Back and Yield’
A pair of lawsuits filed in 2019 by four white women against the New York City public school system allege that a diversity trainer told employees, “White colleagues must take a step back and yield to colleagues of color,” and that they should “recognize that values of White culture are supremacist.” The California suit filed last year by the two white men alleges that the state hosted a discussion series in 2020 in which speakers stated “that any disparate outcomes in society must be the result of white supremacy.”
A 2019 complaint filed by an Illinois public school teacher-led to a finding that as part of a year-long course on equity and diversity, seventh- and eighth-graders participated in a white privilege awareness exercise that required them to remain “in silence” and with “eyes lowered” as they responded to a facilitator’s prompts. A 2020 lawsuit filed by a 12th-grade biracial student and his African American mother says that a civics class in a Nevada charter school taught that “reverse racism doesn’t exist” and that “people of color CANNOT be racist.”
Critical race theory scholars assured RealClearInvestigations that white people should never be fired, penalized or gratuitously humiliated for the historical accident of being born white. But organizations should be granted wide leeway in adopting diversity training and equity policies, they say, even if asking white people to acknowledge their unearned privilege and think about their complicity in white supremacy makes them feel singled out and induces anxiety.
“Part of being an employee or a public official or a school teacher requires you to appreciate your own standing — your identity and your positionality,” said Margaret Burnham, a law professor at Northeastern University and a former Massachusetts state judge, using CRT terms that describe racial and gender power hierarchies.
“Anything that is about the education of the person so that they can do a better job is fair game,” Burnham said. “Just like you have to learn new technologies, new languages, I consider this part of being an employee, part of being in a public space where you’re going to interact with other people.”
Rejecting Legal Neutrality and Individual Rights
Proponents of critical race theory say the lawsuits are a form of white denialism that confirms the pervasiveness of the problem that CRT exposes. Many critical race theorists believe that the United States has functioned as an elaborate affirmative action scheme to empower and enrich white males, a strategy that depends on a certain degree of coverup.
“I see these lawsuits as a last gasp attempt of those who benefit from the racial hierarchy to cling to the power and the privileges that have been associated with whiteness from the beginning of the country,” said andré douglas pond cummings (who writes his name in lowercase letters), a business law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock who has taught courses on corporate justice and “Hip Hop & the American Constitution.”
“Critical race theory challenges the very legitimacy of the legal system in which these lawsuits are situated,” cummings said. “Treating people with dissimilar histories equally, where some have been historically oppressed, can lead to unjust results and outcomes, thereby requiring a focus on results and outcomes, not on blind process, with the goal being equal economic opportunity and equity.”
The central unifying insight of critical race theory is that racism is embedded in the U.S. legal system and social structures, “so that you don’t have to think about it anymore and you can have racism without racists at this point,” said Robert Westley, a Tulane University law professor who specializes in critical race theory and reparations.
“You don’t have to be an avowed racist in order for there to be race-based outcomes in this society,” Westley said, noting that confronting these matters “is going to entail talking about things that make a lot of people very uncomfortable.”
CRT rejects the foundational premises of classical liberalism — such as legal neutrality and individual rights — and from that perspective, colorblindness is not understood as a strategy to overcome racism but as a method to perpetuate it. “It’s a white ideology,” Burnham said. “Colorblindness really comes into fashion as a means of denying the persistence of racial stratification in the United States.”
‘Deathly Afraid of Repercussions’
The lawsuits face a number of challenges, a point borne out by early setbacks some of the claims have experienced so far, including the defeat of Trump’s executive order on free-speech grounds.
In another case, lawyers dropped the discrimination allegations in one of the first such lawsuits, filed in 2018 against the Santa Barbara Unified School District in California, because, they said, students and staff who supported the lawsuit were “deathly afraid” of repercussions if they spoke out and came forward publicly as plaintiffs.
Claimants generally have to prove the alleged discrimination is severe and pervasive. They also have to overcome the freedom-of-speech rights of those who are professing to be dismantling systemic racism. What’s more, lawyers on both sides say that courts traditionally defer to employers and educators to set policy on workplace training and classroom curricula, a built-in restraint on activist judges.
Perhaps the biggest wild card in these lawsuits is the staggering cultural shift of the past five years, during which many of the precepts of CRT have become widely accepted, especially among many in the nation’s intelligentsia and the professional-managerial class.
President Biden has adopted the language and made equity part of his platform, including a proposal to establish an Equity Commission ”to support the rights of Black, Brown and Native farmers.” Immediately upon taking office, he issued an “Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity“ to address systemic racism and “affirmatively” promote equity and racial justice in the federal government.
“Our Nation deserves an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face,” the executive order states.
And last week, Biden’s Education Department proposed new priorities for its American History and Civics Education programs in recognition that the Covid-19 pandemic and “the ongoing national reckoning with systemic racism have highlighted the urgency of improving racial equity throughout our society.” The priorities include incorporating diverse perspectives and anti-racist practices into the teaching of history, with The New York Times 1619 Project cited as an example.
‘White Toxicity in the Air’
This paradigm shift has catapulted “anti-racist” experts like diversity trainer and best-selling “White Fragility” author Robin DiAngelo into the stratosphere of fame. Another beneficiary of the zeitgeist is Ibram X. Kendi, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University who runs the school’s Center for Antiracist Research. Kendi is the author of the 2019 bestseller “How to Be an Antiracist,” which contains a succinct antiracist formula that rests on the distinction between bad discrimination (racism) and good discrimination (antiracism):
The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.
The nation’s current anti-discrimination law does not make such a distinction, and would read Kendi’s proposal as absurd as claiming that there’s a meaningful difference between good theft and bad theft; instead, all discrimination is wrong in the existing legal framework, with the exception of limited, narrowly tailored exemptions that are subject to strict scrutiny by the courts.
A sampling of recent lawsuits and complaints shows how critical race theory practices have played out in a variety of circumstances.
The suit against the New York City Department of Education alleges that employees were told at a diversity retreat that “there is White toxicity in the air and we all breathe it in.” Examples given included the Protestant work ethic and being socialized to be “defensive.”
Such messages about “interrogating Whiteness” were repeated over the course of a year, during which time four white employees who later filed suit were accused of privilege, shamed, demoted, and replaced by African Americans. The pair of lawsuits, filed in 2019, are in the discovery phase as the Department of Education and the lawyers for the four white women suing exchange documents and evidence.
A fall 2020 civics curriculum at a Nevada charter school encouraged students to “unlearn” the oppressive structures within their families, their religion, and their intersectional identities. The teacher, who identified herself in class materials as a bisexual agnostic with a mental health disability, asked 12th-graders to reflect on the parts of their identity that “have privilege attached to it.”
According to a discrimination suit filed by the biracial male student and his black mother who allege he was coerced to affirm a political ideology against his conscience and his Christian faith. The case, filed last December, is headed for trial after a judge, saying the allegations raise “some serious constitutional issues,” refused to toss it out.
In the California lawsuit brought by the two white men, a discussion hosted by the state Department of Fish & Wildlife featured speakers who said that black people don’t use the outdoors in proportion to their population because of white racism, generational trauma, and a historical fear of lynching. White employees were instructed on the country’s deeply racist legal system and advised that “silence is complicity” when it comes to racial injustice.
According to the lawsuit, employees were subjected to implicit bias training that amounted to compelling staff to take “loyalty oaths” to CRT ideology. The lawsuit, filed last October, is in the early procedural stage; the state’s lawyers are seeking to have the case dismissed.
In one of the more unusual cases, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights agreed in early January with an Illinois public school teacher that her school district violated anti-discrimination law when it implemented a discipline policy that explicitly directed staff to consider a student’s race when evaluating behavioral and disciplinary issues.
The case offers indications that different judges will likely reach opposite conclusions in such disputes: Just two weeks after ruling for the schoolteacher under the Trump administration, the Department of Education put the case on hold when President Biden took office and issued the “advancing racial equity” executive order.
The Department of Education initially found that the K-8 school district engaged in illegal stereotyping when administrators and staff were invited to write down “some defining aspects of white culture” in a white privilege awareness exercise. The materials provided several examples of “common white reasoning,” including: “we [whites] haven’t had to develop the skills, perspectives or humility that would help us engage constructively” in cross-racial conflicts. The agency also flagged a segregated “affinity group” for white students that served as a “safe space” for students to learn about white privilege, internalized dominance, microaggressions and how to act as an ally for students of color.
Training Sessions as ‘Pressure Cookers’
Hovering in the background of these lawsuits is the unresolved question: To what extent does truth provide a defense against charges of discrimination? It will come as no surprise that to conservatives and other critics of CRT its fatal flaw is its factual wrongness.
“The ideology is so patently stupid and racist to the common person that the only way you can implement it or teach it is with an element of coercion, otherwise it would just be laughed at,” said Jonathan O’Brien, the lawyer representing the student and mother who filed the Nevada lawsuit. “That’s why the training sessions are like pressure cookers.”
But if critical race theory is true, as its adherents believe, then labeling the truth as discriminatory smacks of censorship.
The lawyers who successfully challenged Trump’s executive order last year, for example, claimed truth as a defense when they argued that their clients offer instruction about systemic racism and white privilege as an essential part of their social justice mission to provide equitable health care services. Systemic racism is understood as the totality of social institutions operating in such a way as to generate disparate outcomes for people of color in criminal justice, health care, education, and other areas.
“We’re talking about a structure, a system, that was set up to benefit white people. Whether people realize it or not, they’re often continuing that system in a way that hurts people of color,” said Camilla Taylor, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, which calls itself the nation’s oldest and largest LGBTQ rights group. “And to undo that structure you need to be able to name who it benefits and who it disadvantages.”
Lambda Legal represented the NO/AIDS Task Force, Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Dr. Ward Carpenter, the Los Angeles center’s co-director of health services who specializes in transgender medicine and personally treats 200 patients. Their successful legal challenge argued that the restrictions in Trump’s executive order “not only run afoul of First Amendment protections, but they ignore verifiable and truthful information, and therefore restrict highly protected professional speech.”
In a phone interview, Taylor cited medical research published in 2019 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that contended when African American newborns are cared for by African American physicians, their mortality rate is cut by half. There is no explanation for the disparity in death rates but the race of the provider, she said.
“Implicit bias is a problem that is greater in white people than it is in people of color,” Taylor said. “To prevent people from talking about these facts, because they make you feel some sense of personal responsibility or guilt that you don’t want to feel, is not only wrong but it hurts people in real-time.”
A Recipe for Tribalism and Violence
The stakes of this dispute couldn’t be higher, at least judging by the rhetoric expressed by both sides. One of the conservative groups planning to file lawsuits, the Upper Midwest Law Center in Golden Valley, Mich., is in talks with prospective clients who include non-whites, said the center’s president, Douglas Seaton.
Seaton described the abandonment of the colorblind idea as giving up on the nation itself. “You can’t have a country as diverse as ours without equality before the law,” Seaton said. “It’s a recipe for communal violence, tribalism. You can’t simply proceed that way. You’d be doomed to internecine battles between groups.”
A suburb of Dallas, Texas has exploded into national media coverage and arrests of school board members after parents found out what their schools have been teaching in the name of “racial justice.” They’re fighting back with lawsuits and challengers for two school board seats in an election that finishes May 1.
Carroll Independent School District of Southlake is the top-achieving school district in Texas. It has no racial achievement gaps, which is nearly unheard of. That’s because Southlake attracts high-achieving families of all races.
The local median income is more than four times the national average and poverty there is statistically nonexistent. According to district data, “microaggressions,” bullying, and racially charged incidents happen approximately three times per month in the district of 8,500 students, meaning they involve 0.3 percent of students a year.
Yet, beginning in 2018, the district rushed into an eye-popping “cultural competence” plan after two videos of students singing the n-word along with rappers went viral on social media. Media outlets went nuts on the story, and so did local school board meetings, where sometimes-crying taxpayers, parents, and students spent hours insisting their lives have been forever damaged by the kind of “institutional racism” in Southlake illustrated by the rap sing-alongs.
They weren’t complaining that rappers stud songs with racial slurs, or that parents let their kids listen to such music. They were complaining about things like teasing and graffiti. They demanded the school district end such annoyances, and even treat them like crimes, or be convicted in the court of public opinion of enabling “institutional racism.”
Is Everyone to Blame for What a Few Racists Do?
Retired Dallas Cowboys player Russell Maryland and Robin Cornish, the widow of another Cowboy, who both have kids in the district, used national media appearances to pressure the town to enact a “Cultural Competence Action Plan,” or CCAP. A long-form article from NBC News in January that quotes Cornish accuses the town of harboring racists.
Cornish also told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in February 2019 the school district was “sweeping this under the carpet, and they are complicit. Unfortunately, this is the way our country is right now. Southlake is a microcosm of that. We have someone running the country right now who says it’s OK to be racist.”
“The idea that America is fundamentally flawed because some people have a [racist] problem in their minds, that’s a recipe to keep you in poverty and unhappiness for the rest of your life,” said Juan Saldivar, a father of a Southlake student, to explain his opposition to restructuring Southlake schools around “systemic racism.” “My parents always told me it doesn’t matter whether people like you, it matters whether the law protects you, and it does.”
He said most parents who oppose the district’s rush into racial extremism over the past three years don’t want to talk to media outlets because their perspective is depicted as racist, even though their true goals are combating racism and ensuring equal treatment and continued academic excellence for all Carroll students. A local parents group organized to oppose CCAP, Southlake Families PAC, makes that clear throughout their website and other materials.
Through the district’s spokesman, school board members and Carroll administrators refused any comment on this story, even through their lawyers. The spokesman cited ongoing litigation that has paused CCAP and led to two school board members posting bail after being indicted in a lawsuit alleging they conducted meetings about CCAP in secret in violation of state law.
A look at what numerous district employees and contractors were using public resources to teach suggests some other reasons they’re declining comment. Here’s a sampling of what Carroll ISD has been doing in the name of “cultural competency” and “combatting racism.” It’s evidence of the district seeking to push extremist views on kids—a completely different story than CCAP proponents claim and corporate media have reported in the past three years.
Racial ‘Competence’ Means Shaming White People
During a 2019 retreat, Carroll administrators were given a preview of the kind of instruction they would be expected to oversee and carry out under a “cultural competency” regime.
In slides presented at that retreat, teachers and administrators who choose to treat students, parents, and colleagues equally regardless of their skin color or ethnicity were accused of “cultural blindness”: “a state in which differences were ignored and one proceeds as if differences don’t exist.” The slides claimed, “White privilege is being able to navigate daily life in the American culture without having to think about race.”
The administrators were encouraged to construct a “white identity,” discussing “What does it mean for you to be white?” and “whiteness,” as well as “Nam[ing] some characteristics of white culture.”
While being encouraged to think of themselves in terms of race, however, administrators were also told that being white is a bad thing. It includes “white fragility,” “a state in which even a minimal amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves (anger, fear, guilt.. silence).”
Ironically, the presentation also warns against “stereotyping,” which it says “happens when you generalize about a person while ignoring the presence of individual differences.”
“This is how bad it has to get before most white people notice: Burning crosses, Swastikas, KKK, the N-word,” Carroll administrators were told in the presentation.
Everything Could Be Racist, Even Eye Contact
On August 10, 2020, Assistant Principal Rene James gave a presentation to Carroll High School teachers focused on race. It directed them to think about their teaching through “The Lense of Equity,” which means racializing every possible interaction: where students sit, who raises his hand (and doesn’t), which students take advanced classes, and so forth, in extreme detail.
The presentation included this video from a California nonprofit group about “racism” in schools. An unnamed young black woman in the video claims “Black and brown students” need extra resources because they “have to work extra hard and do like double the work just to succeed.”
James’s presentation also links to an “equity rubric,” or things teachers should change about their professional practices, that include “The teacher is aware of their [sic] biases and privileges,” “The teacher utilizes identity-affirming strategies,” and “The school’s core policies and practices indicate a prioritization of Equity.” Teachers were instructed to document “evidence of progress” on metrics like this.
James’s presentation also links to “A Resource for Equitable Classroom Practices 2010,” a 40-page document that includes detailed instructions for greeting students, calling on them in class, and classroom decorations, all with an eye to race. It implies that behaviors such as mispronouncing a student’s name, making both too much or too little eye contact, or not equally distributing how a teacher walks around the classroom is racist.
The document also demands that teachers who don’t want to be considered racists “Use body language, gestures, and expressions to convey a message that all students’ questions and opinions are important,” and include non-English words in classroom materials.
Equality Is Actually Racist
A “culturally competent” professional development session held on Sept. 9, 2020 for Carroll ISD staff included similar material. It claimed that teachers who “maintain long held traditions over [a]changing population’s traditions” and “neglecting to or refusing to each from a culturally relevant perspective,” as well as striving to treat all people equally regardless of skin color, were negative behaviors teachers should shun.
It called on teachers to “Understand, [sic] there is a system and culture of power dependent on the suppression of other cultures in order to maintain itself” and claimed “educators no longer have the luxury of being color-blind or color-mute in a society socially constructed around race.”
This “training session” was held in conjunction with a publicly funded regional public school cooperative known as Education Service Center Region 11, which oversees 76 Texas public school districts that encompass approximately 600,000 students.
The presentation further called on teachers to consider how they can be a “more critically race conscious leader and educator (in America).”
The presentation depicted as educators’ ultimate goal to encourage students to “work to be agents of change,” and along the way learn to “view problems and issues through different ethnic lenses.” It called on teachers to develop environments that push students to “become actively engaged in solving real-world problems centered around diversity, culture, power, equity, and social-justice.”
Dad: A Poisonous Recipe for Poverty and Unhappiness
CCAP proponents like Maryland depict this kind of material as teaching children basic human decency. But those who oppose it see materials like these and draw the conclusion that there’s a lot more going on here.
Saldivar is a retired colonel who graduated from West Point and remained in Southlake after he was stationed in the area on a military assignment. He strongly opposes this kind of instruction trickling down into his daughter’s fourth-grade classroom.
“I did everything I could to get my child into [Carroll] and it’s No. 1 in Texas, and I say I do not want my child growing up with this stuff being injected into her brain because it’s poison,” he said in an interview. “It’s the seeds of destruction that ruin one’s ability to grow up happy and be a leader in society.”
A Mexican-American grandson of immigrants, Juan was the first in his extended family to go to college. He said he’s experienced racism from both white people and “people of color,” but said racist actions by individuals don’t indict the entire nation he’s put his life in danger to protect and that has given his immigrant family opportunities far beyond their sharecropper past.
“The outcome is nothing less than the survival of our national identity itself. No nation can survive a generation of citizens who hate their country,” Saldivar said to explain why he finally decided to speak his mind despite the social pressure he knew he’d face for it. “That’s why I say education is a higher endeavor than war. It has a longer-lasting impact.”
In an interview to discuss his new book about the social justice movement, Voddie Baucham explains why critical race theory (CRT) spells “looming catastrophe” for evangelicalism. The pastor and author, who’s recovering from heart surgery, recently spoke to Dan Andros and Tré Goins-Phillips at CBN’s Faithwire about his just-released book Fault Lines. He describes it as “a plea for the church” to beware of “destructive heresies.”
The Bible is sufficient on its own, emphasizes Voddie Baucham, who says he worries about the backlash that will likely result from adherence to CRT and the liberation theology it promotes. He hopes his new book will help ignite much-needed conversations and encourage people to test their relationships to determine if they’re authentic or not.
Voddie Baucham on the Movement’s Religious Trappings
The social justice movement isn’t just a pseudo-religion, says Voddie Baucham, but rather its own religious movement. “This has all the trappings of religion,” he says, noting that even atheists have made that point. The movement, for example, has its own cosmology, its own saints, its own liturgy, and its own law. Some of those aspects are very subtle, Baucham notes, which makes them attractive to Christians who are rightly concerned about topics such as justice, racism, and equality. Our tendency, as a result, is to then assume that CRT must somehow be aligned with Christianity, which “it’s absolutely not,” he says.
Instead, CRT is a worldview with central tenets that fly in the face of the idea of the sufficiency of Scripture, says Baucham. You can’t pick and choose a few beliefs from it—and you don’t need to, because the Bible is “absolutely a textbook” on key issues such as relationships and the sin of partiality. Christians wouldn’t accept a pick-and-choose approach with any other ideology, Baucham notes, citing Hinduism as an example. “And CRT is at least as foreign to Christianity as Hinduism is,” he adds.
CRT’s Four Main Tenets
The four tenets that make up the worldview of CRT, says Baucham, are:
Racism as normative (it’s normal, it’s everywhere, and it’s unavoidable)
Interest convergence (white people are unable to take righteous action against racism unless it converges with their own individual interests)
The social construction of knowledge
CRT teaches that the only way to know the truth, Baucham says, is to elevate black, marginalized voices and listen to their stories. People and their feelings become arbiters of truth, and anyone who disagrees with those feelings is either a racist or has internalized racism.
Baucham, founder of Voddie Baucham Ministries, is currently dean of theology at African Christian University in Zambia. He grew up in South-Central Los Angeles with a single mom who was Buddhist and calls it “laughable” when critics say he has “internalized racism” or somehow “doesn’t understand blackness.” Baucham says he’s been called all kinds of names, including Uncle Tom, and the reason is because his critics lack an argument. “They’re not coming at me about factual errors,” he says. “They’re attacking my narrative.”
Why Talk of Privilege and Oppression Is Problematic
While discussing the foundations of CRT, Baucham points to terms such as “Christian hegemony,” or Christianity being “normative.” CRT proponents, he says, think in terms of the oppressor and the oppressed. “They’re saying Christianity is a form of imperialism and is oppressive,” he says, and that people need to put both their white privilege and their Christian privilege in check.
CRT advocates, such as Ibram X. Kendi, criticize white Savior theology, which maintains that people need to be saved from their sins, says Baucham. Instead, they tout Black liberation theology, which maintains that people need to be delivered from oppression. But the Bible indeed teaches that we need a Savior, Jesus, which makes CRT “hugely problematic,” says Baucham. The CRT worldview is even more dangerous because “you hear it all the time.” That’s one reason he includes many CRT-related quotes in his new book, he says, in order to show its prevalence throughout our culture.
Voddie Baucham Worries About a Backlash
Although Baucham is confident that the Christian church will survive this latest attack, he says he worries about a backlash from CRT’s growing influence. “I’m worried about a rise in white supremacy and actual racism because of the rise of CRT,” he says. “We have run away from the only solution to racism—the Gospel—in favor of a non-solution. ‘Savior theology’ is the answer.”
Some people say the pastor is being too dramatic by including the words “Looming Catastrophe” in his new book’s subtitle. But Baucham points to real damage and splits that have occurred due to CRT. Families, churches, schools, and denominations are being torn apart, he says, adding that “we’re talking past each other” when it comes to racism and CRT.
In addition, the church is being unfairly maligned and accused, which causes him pain. “People are basically pummeling the Bride of Christ,” the pastor says, “and talking about her like she’s the whore of Babylon.”
Christians must be willing to have tough conversations and press their relationships with one another, says Baucham. That can be costly, because some relationships might ultimately prove to be inauthentic. But “if you can’t offend me, then our relationship isn’t real,” he states. Christians also must view one another as brothers, not as oppressors.
The church will prevail, Baucham says, because the Lord loves his church. Christians, he advises, should “run” to the Bible and its teachings related to racism (including Ephesians 2 and Galatians 3 and 4). Scripture makes it clear that we’re adopted children of God, says Baucham, with no more divisions between us. “The Black-and-white divide is not one that God established,” he says. “It’s a false divide, and the Bible takes care of it.”
The goal of his new book, says Voddie Baucham , is to be “a clarion call” that unmasks CRT’s ideology and removes “the blinders” from its adherents’ eyes.
Christopher F. Rufo is founder and director of Battlefront, a public policy research center. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and a former Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. As executive director at the Documentary Foundation, he has directed four films for PBS, including most recently America Lost, which explores life in Youngstown, Ohio, Memphis, Tennessee, and Stockton, California. He is also a contributing editor of City Journal, where he covers topics including critical race theory, homelessness, addiction, and crime.
The following is adapted from a lecture delivered at Hillsdale College on March 30, 2021.
Critical race theory is fast becoming America’s new institutional orthodoxy. Yet most Americans have never heard of it—and of those who have, many don’t understand it. It’s time for this to change. We need to know what it is so we can know how to fight it.
In explaining critical race theory, it helps to begin with a brief history of Marxism. Originally, the Marxist Left built its political program on the theory of class conflict. Marx believed that the primary characteristic of industrial societies was the imbalance of power between capitalists and workers. The solution to that imbalance, according to Marx, was revolution: the workers would eventually gain consciousness of their plight, seize the means of production, overthrow the capitalist class, and usher in a new socialist society.
During the 20th century, a number of regimes underwent Marxist-style revolutions, and each ended in disaster. Socialist governments in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba, and elsewhere racked up a body count of nearly 100 million of their own people. They are remembered for their gulags, show trials, executions, and mass starvations. In practice, Marx’s ideas unleashed man’s darkest brutalities.
By the mid-1960s, Marxist intellectuals in the West had begun to acknowledge these failures. They recoiled at revelations of Soviet atrocities and came to realize that workers’ revolutions would never occur in Western Europe or the United States, where there were large middle classes and rapidly improving standards of living. Americans in particular had never developed a sense of class consciousness or class division. Most Americans believed in the American dream—the idea that they could transcend their origins through education, hard work, and good citizenship.
But rather than abandon their Leftist political project, Marxist scholars in the West simply adapted their revolutionary theory to the social and racial unrest of the 1960s. Abandoning Marx’s economic dialectic of capitalists and workers, they substituted race for class and sought to create a revolutionary coalition of the dispossessed based on racial and ethnic categories.
Fortunately, the early proponents of this revolutionary coalition in the U.S. lost out in the 1960s to the civil rights movement, which sought instead the fulfillment of the American promise of freedom and equality under the law. Americans preferred the idea of improving their country to that of overthrowing it. The vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., President Johnson’s pursuit of the Great Society, and the restoration of law and order promised by President Nixon in his 1968 campaign defined the post-1960s American political consensus.
But the radical Left has proved resilient and enduring—which is where critical race theory comes in.
WHAT IT IS
Critical race theory is an academic discipline, formulated in the 1990s, built on the intellectual framework of identity-based Marxism. Relegated for many years to universities and obscure academic journals, over the past decade it has increasingly become the default ideology in our public institutions. It has been injected into 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.
There are a series of euphemisms deployed by its supporters to describe critical race theory, including “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching.” Critical race theorists, masters of language construction, realize that “neo-Marxism” would be a hard sell. Equity, on the other hand, sounds non-threatening and is easily confused with the American principle of equality. But the distinction is vast and important. Indeed, equality—the principle proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, defended in the Civil War, and codified into law with the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—is explicitly rejected by critical race theorists. To them, equality represents “mere nondiscrimination” and provides “camouflage” for white supremacy, patriarchy, and oppression.
In contrast to equality, equity as defined and promoted by critical race theorists is little more than reformulated Marxism. In the name of equity, UCLA Law Professor and critical race theorist Cheryl Harris has proposed suspending private property rights, seizing land and wealth and redistributing them along racial lines. Critical race guru Ibram X. Kendi, who directs the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, has proposed the creation of a federal Department of Antiracism. This department would be independent of (i.e., unaccountable to) the elected branches of government, and would have the power to nullify, veto, or abolish any law at any level of government and curtail the speech of political leaders and others who are deemed insufficiently “antiracist.”
One practical result of the creation of such a department would be the overthrow of capitalism, since according to Kendi, “In order to truly be antiracist, you also have to truly be anti-capitalist.” In other words, identity is the means and Marxism is the end.
An equity-based form of government would mean the end not only of private property, but also of individual rights, equality under the law, federalism, and freedom of speech. These would be replaced by race-based redistribution of wealth, group-based rights, active discrimination, and omnipotent bureaucratic authority. Historically, the accusation of “anti-Americanism” has been overused. But in this case, it’s not a matter of interpretation—critical race theory prescribes a revolutionary program that would overturn the principles of the Declaration and destroy the remaining structure of the Constitution.
HOW IT WORKS
What does critical race theory look like in practice? Last year, I authored a series of reports focused on critical race theory in the federal government. The FBI was holding workshops on intersectionality theory. The Department of Homeland Security was telling white employees they were committing “microinequities” and had been “socialized into oppressor roles.” The Treasury Department held a training session telling staff members that “virtually all white people contribute to racism” and that they must convert “everyone in the federal government” to the ideology of “antiracism.” And the Sandia National Laboratories, which designs America’s nuclear arsenal, sent white male executives to a three-day reeducation camp, where they were told that “white male culture” was analogous to the “KKK,” “white supremacists,” and “mass killings.” The executives were then forced to renounce their “white male privilege” and write letters of apology to fictitious women and people of color.
This year, I produced another series of reports focused on critical race theory in education. In Cupertino, California, an elementary school forced first-graders to deconstruct their racial and sexual identities, and rank themselves according to their “power and privilege.” In Springfield, Missouri, a middle school forced teachers to locate themselves on an “oppression matrix,” based on the idea that straight, white, English-speaking, Christian males are members of the oppressor class and must atone for their privilege and “covert white supremacy.” In Philadelphia, an elementary school forced fifth-graders to celebrate “Black communism” and simulate a Black Power rally to free 1960s radical Angela Davis from prison, where she had once been held on charges of murder. And in Seattle, the school district told white teachers that they are guilty of “spirit murder” against black children and must “bankrupt [their] privilege in acknowledgement of [their] thieved inheritance.”
I’m just one investigative journalist, but I’ve developed a database of more than 1,000 of these stories. When I say that critical race theory is becoming the operating ideology of our public institutions, it is not an exaggeration—from the universities to bureaucracies to k-12 school systems, critical race theory has permeated the collective intelligence and decision-making process of American government, with no sign of slowing down.
This is a revolutionary change. When originally established, these government institutions were presented as neutral, technocratic, and oriented towards broadly-held perceptions of the public good. Today, under the increasing sway of critical race theory and related ideologies, they are being turned against the American people. This isn’t limited to the permanent bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., but is true as well of institutions in the states, even in red states, and it is spreading to county public health departments, small Midwestern school districts, and more. This ideology will not stop until it has devoured all of our institutions.
Thus far, attempts to halt the encroachment of critical race theory have been ineffective. There are a number of reasons for this.
First, too many Americans have developed an acute fear of speaking up about social and political issues, especially those involving race. According to a recent Gallup poll, 77 percent of conservatives are afraid to share their political beliefs publicly. Worried about getting mobbed on social media, fired from their jobs, or worse, they remain quiet, largely ceding the public debate to those pushing these anti-American ideologies. Consequently, the institutions themselves become monocultures: dogmatic, suspicious, and hostile to a diversity of opinion. Conservatives in both the federal government and public school systems have told me that their “equity and inclusion” departments serve as political offices, searching for and stamping out any dissent from the official orthodoxy.
Second, critical race theorists have constructed their argument like a mousetrap. Disagreement with their program becomes irrefutable evidence of a dissenter’s “white fragility,” “unconscious bias,” or “internalized white supremacy.” I’ve seen this projection of false consciousness on their opponents play out dozens of times in my reporting. Diversity trainers will make an outrageous claim—such as “all whites are intrinsically oppressors” or “white teachers are guilty of spirit murdering black children”—and then when confronted with disagreement, they adopt a patronizing tone and explain that participants who feel “defensiveness” or “anger” are reacting out of guilt and shame. Dissenters are instructed to remain silent, “lean into the discomfort,” and accept their “complicity in white supremacy.”
Third, Americans across the political spectrum have failed to separate the premise of critical race theory from its conclusion. Its premise—that American history includes slavery and other injustices, and that we should examine and learn from that history—is undeniable. But its revolutionary conclusion—that America was founded on and defined by racism and that our founding principles, our Constitution, and our way of life should be overthrown—does not rightly, much less necessarily, follow.
Fourth and finally, the writers and activists who have had the courage to speak out against critical race theory have tended to address it on the theoretical level, pointing out the theory’s logical contradictions and dishonest account of history. These criticisms are worthy and good, but they move the debate into the academic realm, which is friendly terrain for proponents of critical race theory. They fail to force defenders of this revolutionary ideology to defend the practical consequences of their ideas in the realm of politics.
No longer simply an academic matter, critical race theory has become a tool of political power. To borrow a phrase from the Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci, it is fast achieving “cultural hegemony” in America’s public institutions. More and more, it is driving the vast machinery of the state and society. If we want to succeed in opposing it, we must address it politically at every level.
Critical race theorists must be confronted with and forced to speak to the facts. Do they support public schools separating first-graders into groups of “oppressors” and “oppressed”? Do they support mandatory curricula teaching that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism”? Do they support public schools instructing white parents to become “white traitors” and advocate for “white abolition”? Do they want those who work in government to be required to undergo this kind of reeducation? How about managers and workers in corporate America? How about the men and women in our military? How about every one of us?
There are three parts to a successful strategy to defeat the forces of critical race theory: governmental action, grassroots mobilization, and an appeal to principle.
We already see examples of governmental action. Last year, one of my reports led President Trump to issue an executive order banning critical race theory-based training programs in the federal government. President Biden rescinded this order on his first day in office, but it provides a model for governors and municipal leaders to follow. This year, several state legislatures have introduced bills to achieve the same goal: preventing public institutions from conducting programs that stereotype, scapegoat, or demean people on the basis of race. And I have organized a coalition of attorneys to file lawsuits against schools and government agencies that impose critical race theory-based programs on grounds of the First Amendment (which protects citizens from compelled speech), the Fourteenth Amendment (which provides equal protection under the law), and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits public institutions from discriminating on the basis of race).
On the grassroots level, a multiracial and bipartisan coalition is emerging to do battle against critical race theory. Parents are mobilizing against racially divisive curricula in public schools and employees are increasingly speaking out against Orwellian reeducation in the workplace. When they see what is happening, Americans are naturally outraged that critical race theory promotes three ideas—race essentialism, collective guilt, and neo-segregation—which violate the basic principles of equality and justice. Anecdotally, many Chinese-Americans have told me that having survived the Cultural Revolution in their former country, they refuse to let the same thing happen here.
In terms of principles, we need to employ our own moral language rather than allow ourselves to be confined by the categories of critical race theory. For example, we often find ourselves debating “diversity.” Diversity as most of us understand it is generally good, all things being equal, but it is of secondary value. We should be talking about and aiming at excellence, a common standard that challenges people of all backgrounds to achieve their potential. On the scale of desirable ends, excellence beats diversity every time.
Similarly, in addition to pointing out the dishonesty of the historical narrative on which critical race theory is predicated, we must promote the true story of America—a story that is honest about injustices in American history, but that places them in the context of our nation’s high ideals and the progress we have made towards realizing them. Genuine American history is rich with stories of achievements and sacrifices that will move the hearts of Americans—in stark contrast to the grim and pessimistic narrative pressed by critical race theorists.
Above all, we must have courage—the fundamental virtue required in our time. Courage to stand and speak the truth. Courage to withstand epithets. Courage to face the mob. Courage to shrug off the scorn of the elites. When enough of us overcome the fear that currently prevents so many from speaking out, the hold of critical race theory will begin to slip. And courage begets courage. It’s easy to stop a lone dissenter; it’s much harder to stop 10, 20, 100, 1,000, 1,000,000, or more who stand up together for the principles of America.
Truth and justice are on our side. If we can muster the courage, we will win.
Backlash is rising against the Marxist critical race theory (CRT) behind The New York Times‘ “1619 Project” and other efforts to indoctrinate Americans with the idea that American society is fundamentally or “structurally” racist. This week, the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York (CACAGNY) issued a powerful statement condemning critical race theory and urging Chinese Americans to oppose it.
“Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a hateful, divisive, manipulative fraud,” CACAGNY declared. “One way or another, CRT wants to get rid of too many Asians in good schools. Asians are over-represented. CRT is today’s Chinese Exclusion Act. CRT is the real hate crime against Asians” (emphasis original).
Critical race theory teaches that any racial disparities must ipso facto be proof of some hidden racial bias or discrimination, regardless of civil rights laws explicitly forbidding such discrimination. Since Americans of Asian ancestry are overrepresented in colleges, universities, and certain high-income professions, CRT effectively teaches that American society is structurally biased in favor of Asians.
“CRT appears in our workplaces under the cover of implicit bias/sensitivity training. It infiltrates our schools pretending to be culturally/ethnically responsive pedagogy, with curricula such as the New York Times’ 1619 Project and Seattle’s ethnomathematics,” CACAGNY argued. “From its very roots, CRT is racist, repressive, discriminatory, and divisive.”
The Chinese American group laid out the main “dogmas” of critical race theory, including (emphasis original):
You are not a person. You are only your race, and by your race alone you will be judged.
Justice is about equal rights, but Social Justice, or equity, is about equal outcomes. Only Social Justice matters; Justice does not. To achieve equal outcomes, forget equal rights.
All unequal outcomes by race — inequity for short — are the result of racial oppression.
All Blacks are oppressed and all Whites are oppressors. This is systemic: never ask whether oppression occurred, only how it occurred. Everyone and everything White is complicit.
If you are White and won’t admit you are racist, you are racist by implicit bias. To reduce implicit bias, you must self-criticize, confess to privilege, apologize to the oppressed race.
Whiteness is belief in, among others: achievement, delayed gratification, progress, schedules and deadlines, meritocracy, race-blindness, the written word, facts and objectivity (they deny lived experience) , logic and reason (they deny empathy), mathematics and science (until they are de-colonized and humanized).
CRT suppresses dissent with cancel culture: publications withdrawn, college admissions rescinded, online presence wiped out, business relationships ended, jobs terminated.
The Chinese American group presented three instances of CRT at work. In June 2020, Seattle ran an “anti-racism” training that began with the claim that all White people have a natural sense of racial superiority. The session required participants to confess their complicity in “white supremacy” become “less white,” and become accountable to black people in their every thought.
In August 2017, Nevada high school senior William Clark took a mandatory class in which the curriculum told students that white people are racists who enjoy the privileges of oppression. Classmates, teachers, and administrators allegedly began harassing Clark merely because he was identified as white.
In January 2021, a teacher in Cupertino, Calif., told an elementary school math class that students lived in a dominant culture of white, cisgender, educated Christians, and that the culture was created to hoard power. As CACAGNY explained, “a Chinese parent found out about this and organized parents to stop it. It reminded them of Mao’s bloody Cultural Revolution.”
Although Chinese Americans “are people of color and therefore start from the oppressed side of CRT’s binary,” CACAGNY explained that “as we overcome discrimination and achieve upward mobility, we are now White by adjacency” (emphasis original). The Chinese American group claimed that Black Lives Matter rioters with CRT signs assaulted a CACAGNY rally supporting merit-based education.
CACAGNY condemned various forms of sleight-of-hand that allow universities like Harvard and top high schools to select “lower-qualified Blacks” over “better-qualified Asians.”
CACAGNY called on Asian Americans to loudly denounce critical race theory and to fight back.
“We need to recognize CRT through its fraudulent packaging, call it out, resist. Parents need to watch for CRT in schools, talk to each other, and organize, like the Cupertino Chinese parents,” the group argued. “Regardless, parents need to speak with their kids to anti-indoctrinate (or un-doctrinate) them at home. This needs to start early, because CRT indoctrination also starts early. Don’t trust schools and teachers blindly.”
CACAGNY acknowledged former President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban CRT on the federal level, but noted that President Joe Biden rescinded that order upon taking office. That means state and local efforts provide the most promise.
Republicans in various states have filed legislation to ensure that schools do not indoctrinate kids with the 1619 Project. These efforts are likely to grow.
CACAGNY made powerful arguments against Marxist critical race theory without mentioning that this ideology inspiredmuch of the destruction of the Black Lives Matter and antifa riots over the summer. While protesters rightly expressed outrage at the treatment of George Floyd, many of the protests devolved into looting, vandalism, and arson in which lawless thugs — acting in the name of fighting racism — destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments.
When vandals toppled a statue of George Washington in Portland, they spray-painted “1619” on the statue. When Claremont’s Charles Kesler wrote in The New York Post, “Call them the 1619 riots,” Hannah-Jones responded (in a since-deleted tweet) that “it would be an honor” to claim responsibility for the destructive riots.
Parents of all races should oppose this dangerous and divisive ideology. Critical race theory pits Americans against one another on the basis of skin color, teaches children a basic distrust of the social elements that make America great, and inspired violent and deadly riots.