Critical Race Theory in Schools is an Attack on Individualism
The Biden Administration is dangling millions of tax dollars in front of public schools on the condition that they implement critical race theory–along with elements of the New York Time’s 1619 Project–into their civics and American history programs.
The plan will provide grants to schools that support “projects that incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives.” It also calls for “anti-racism” training quoting from Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist.
Aside from preexisting, valid concerns that the federal government plays too big a role in our education system, at first glance this doesn’t seem so bad. After all, there is certainly nothing wrong with a curriculum that offers diverse perspectives to students, and almost no one would argue with schools speaking out against racism.
But this is not what critical race theory does in practice.
Instead, this ideology views all cultural, social, and political issues through a racial lens. By doing so, it not only weaves a false narrative that nearly all actions, and actors, are inherently racist, but also ignores the individual by focusing only on race, rather than the countless other attributes that define who a person really is.
This move to force critical race theory into public schools should worry anyone who believes in individualism and, thus, equality.
Equality Is About Individualism
In his famous I Have A Dream Speech, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke passionately of his hope that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
King also voiced his aspiration that our country would “rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”
At its core, this sentiment, which was originally expressed by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence, is about individualism. You cannot have equality for all unless you understand the importance of treating people as individuals rather than groups. This was the entire crux of the Civil Rights Movement that King championed..
Yet, instead of seeking to ensure that every person is judged on their merit , critical race theory, or equity as it is sometimes called, reduces person to the color of their skin rather than the strength of their character. .
Critical race theorists assert that every single “nonminority” is inherently racist. But it’s not enough for these individuals to denounce racism and adopt “anti-racist” views. In fact, according to these theorists, such an act is impossible as a person’s “privilege” precludes them from ever being able to rid themselves entirely of their racist views.
This kind of thinking assumes the intent and character of each person based solely on their ethnicity. Put simply, it is collectivism of the worst kind.
It should come as no surprise, then, that critical race theory is actually rooted in Marxist ideology.
The Original Critical Theorists
In the mid-century, “critical theory” as it was called then, was a brainchild of the Frankfurt School, a group of prominent German Marxist intellectuals. It stood in juxtaposition with “traditional” theory, which was viewed by these thinkers as being “bourgeois” and incapable of leading to the radical activism and cultural agitation needed to shake things up.
In the 1980s, this ideology made its way into American academia, law schools specifically, where it evolved into modern day critical race theory.
As Cameron Hilditch explained of critical theory’s three-tiered criteria:
“It must provide an account of what is wrong with existing social arrangements, identify the agents of change (in classical Marxist thinking, this would be the revolutionary proletariat), and provide achievable aims and standards against which these agents can judge their efforts.”
For critical theorists, all social ills were the product of an oppressive force—usually capitalism. While critical race theorists also view capitalism as oppressive and a primary perpetrator of alleged systemic racism, their emphasis has less to do with economic class divisions and everything to do with race.
While critical theorists believed the proletariat were the agents of change, critical race theorists believe not only that minorities need to rise up and revolt against the system, but that non-minorities need to play their part as well by recognizing their privilege and implicit bias.
Since critical race theory claims that non-minorities will always have traces of racism, there is no way of truly ending the problem. This becomes a perpetual blame game where everyone loses.
Whether the focus is on economic or racial divides, both theories seek to lump individuals into groups, rather than taking personal factors and decisions into consideration.
While the Biden Administration may have the best of intentions with this plan to reshape American education, anytime individualism is sacrificed to the will of the collective, liberty is placed on the back burner. .
We shouldn’t forget the value of individualism as the antidote to racism and other forms of collective prejudice. In fact, it was the very precepts of individual liberty and classical liberalism that helped put a stop to the government’s own tresspasses against equality throughout history.
As FEE’s Dan Sanchez and Tyler Brandt wrote:
“The classical liberal harmony doctrine was deeply influential in the movements to abolish all forms of inequality under the law: from feudal serfdom, to race-based slavery, to Jim Crow.”