It is now glaringly obvious that critics of the Left and Critical Race Theory have been right all along: Critical Race Theory and the broader Leftist agenda making use of it are not serious endeavors; they’re tools for seizing power, cynically applied.
According to Critical Race Theory, “racism is ordinary, not aberrational—‘normal science,’ the usual way society does business, the common, everyday experience of most people of color in this country” (Delgado and Stefancic, 2001, p. 7). Its advocates call this belief “systemic racism,” and Critical Race Theory is the “study” of this so-called systemic racism, if by “study” we mean “treasure hunt to find racism in everything.”
Consequently, according to Critical Race Theorists, virtually everything anyone can imagine is racist. The names of some birds and fish are racist, according to Critical Race Theory. Math is racist, especially if we care about getting the right answers, according to Critical Race Theory. A rock on University of Wisconsin, Madison, campus property is racist, according to Critical Race Theory. Schools, government institutions, businesses, classical music, Beethoven specifically, art, hiking, going outside, the pandemic, rock climbing, jogging, conservatism and all conservatives, the curriculum in any school and its books, black people who don’t agree with Critical Race Theory, logic, loyalty, punctuality, hard work, merit—these are all part of the “system” of racism that this neo-Marxian Theory “interrogates” for its hidden racism. Even being “less racist” or “not racist” and desegregating schools via Brown v. Board of Education is racist, according to Critical Race Theory. In fact, it was in those two phenomena that Critical Race Theory started.
In that it’s a neo-Marxist Theory that demands to be understood only in its own predefined terms, however, perhaps it is best to consider what Critical Race Theory is really all about by taking the advice of some of its philosophical forebears. In One-Dimensional Man (1964), the neo-Marxist Herbert Marcuse explains, presaging the poststructuralist Jackie Derrida, that the motivating energy for a movement rooted in (Hegelian) “negative thinking” comes from what isn’t there more than what is. The absence haunts the movement and, ultimately, gives it its motivating energy and will. He, of course, meant the (absence of the) liberated Utopia—Communism, when it finally works—that “specter of Marx” that also animated Derrida, though less manically, in the 1990s. Thus, perhaps we can learn more about what “systemic racism” is about by taking some examples of what isn’t systemically racist, even though it plainly is (by their definition).
A glaring example of systemic racism-that-isn’t arises in the willful discrimination against meritorious Asian-Americans in American colleges and universities and other schools. This blatant exception to the rule of systemic racism not only exists but was defended against termination by nearly every Senate Democrat in a party-line vote in April when Ted Cruz attempted to add a provision in the “Stop Asian Hate” bill that would finally prohibit it. But, of course, Asian-Americans are a paradoxical minority. They’re white-adjacent, which is systemically racist.
There’s also the obvious case of the disproportionate impact (this being the proof that systemic racism is occurring) the riots, looting, arson, chaos, and subsequent “defund the police” initiatives had on black and Latino neighborhoods in our cities, costing many hundreds of black and other lives and billions in property damage and theft. “Whiteness is property,” we were told in apparent justification of all this mayhem, and the police are systemically racist. Somehow, though, encouraging these disastrous behaviors and policies doesn’t qualify as “systemic racism” despite the definition because they were protests for “justice,” which is supposed to be “uncomfortable.”
Another less obvious example of systemic racism-that-isn’t follows the eviction moratorium, which was just reinstated unconstitutionally by administrative decree. Brown and black landlords, who tend to run smaller operations and own fewer rental properties, are disproportionately affected and far more likely to lose their livelihoods and property as foreclosures loom. This policy, which benefits interests like BlackRock (with its deep ties to the administration and major international NGOs who also claim to care about “systemic racism” in everything else), is not “systemically racist,” however.