GUEST ESSAY: Critical Race Theory deepens racial divides
Anne Kiefer’s support for critical race theory (CRT) is expressed in her Sept. 1 Chronicle-Express guest essay, “We need a comprehensive US history.” I believe we should reject CRT and other “cancel culture” doctrines because they deviate from the Rev. Martin Luther King’s belief that people should be judged not by ethnic or racial stereotyping or by the color of their skin, but “by the content of their character.”
CRT and similar doctrines disregard the progress that has been made against systemic racism, especially in the southern states where systemic racism was the norm prior to the civil rights gains made during the 1950s and 1960s. They encourage racial conflict rather than racial harmony and promote the false belief that America today remains a “white-privileged,” systemically racist society that should be reconstructed by incorporating far-left wing socialist ideology into it.
Dallas Justice Now (DJN), an affiliate of Black Lives Matter, recently sent a letter to Caucasian Democrats in two wealthy Dallas, Texas neighborhoods, pressuring them to support “a college pledge.”
Reflecting a CRT mindset, the letter advises that “whether you know it or not, you earned or inherited your money through oppressing people of color. However, it is also our understanding that you are a Democrat and supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement which makes you one of our white allies and puts you in a position to correct these cruel injustices. We need you to step up and back up your words with action and truly sacrifice to make our segregated city more just.”
The letter then asks those who received it “to pledge that your children will not apply to or attend any Ivy League School or U.S. News & World Report Top 50 Schools. If you do not have children under 18 then we ask you to pledge to hold your white privileged friends, family and neighbors with children to this standard. These schools have afforded white families privileges for generations. Having your children attend these schools takes away spaces from students of color who really need the job opportunities, education and influence that these schools provide.”
The letter asks recipients to check one of the two boxes: “I am a racist hypocrite” or “I agree to the pledge.” DJN warned on its website it will publicly announce the names of people who have and have not signed the pledge.
“Candace” host Candace Owens, who is African American, reacted to the DJN campaign on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” She said, “You could identify this as bigotry of low expectations. They’re saying that Black Americans aren’t smart enough to get into these schools by their own merit. But here’s what’s interesting. It’s worse than the bigotry of low expectations. It’s the bigotry of no expectations.” Owens pointed out that affirmative action helps to equalize the playing field in higher education but that left-wing liberals and groups such as DJN want to remove Caucasian Americans altogether. Owens also observed that the left-wing agenda perpetuates rather than eliminates systemic racism, because “they want people to focus on skin color and make sure people are segregated according to their skin color.”
In her essay, Kiefer wrote that Nikole Hannah-Jones “captured the spirit of critical race theory and provided a vision for America going forward.” But Hannah-Jones has been discredited not only by conservative and “middle of the road” historians, but even by some left-wing historians who have questioned the accuracy of the “facts” set forth by Hannah-Jones in her writings.
Last year, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) expressed his opinion in a New York Times essay that America’s military should help restore order when local and state governments are unable or unwilling to stop the destructive rioting that was occurring in some communities. Hannah-Jones was among the NYT journalists who pressured the newspaper leadership to repudiate Cotton’s essay and to apologize to readers for publishing it. Agree or disagree with Cotton’s essay – for the most part I agreed with it – but CRT proponents should at least respect the rights of people to express opinions different from their own opinions. However, CRT proponents seem to believe in freedom of speech only for people who adhere to CRT doctrines.
Joel Freedman, of Canandaigua, now retired, taught U.S. history and sociology for many years at Finger Lakes Community College.