For us not to fall in the wrong direction is to join in the story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. This is the grand narrative of Christ redeeming His creation, using His people throughout the ages to work for the well-being of others and to change society. Until Christ comes again, the hurting will always be with us. But that doesn’t mean we should tolerate it.
To a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and to a critical theorist everything looks like oppression. But what if that’s not a big enough answer?
I often paraphrase one of my favorite lines from G. K. Chesterton. He observed that there are a lot of ways to fall down but only one way to stand up straight. It’s a lesson that many of us who want to better understand the world and to have a better world should learn. One of the commonest defenses of critical race theory (CRT) from its advocates is that people have misunderstood it. It’s just not what people think it is; CRT is just a tool to understand the American legal system, they say. It’s just an academic analysis of cultural trends. It’s just an attempt to look at our nation’s morally fraught racial history.
But to say that CRT is just any of those things is like saying Disney is just a cartoon company. It certainly started that way. And it’s kind of true. But today it’s rather a meaningless way to describe this behemoth of a company. You can’t travel anywhere in the world without encountering the power of the Mouse and his minions. In the same way, CRT has now extended beyond the academic realm into education, into corporate HR departments, into the Church, and, more influentially, into the cultural imagination.
This framework of seeing all of life in terms of oppressor and oppressed is a deep part of the cultural mood. Racial identity and power dynamics — these are seen as the issues of the day. Whatever the formal source of CRT was, now functions practically as a theory of everything. It demands conformity in many areas of our life to the very specific political ends that it advocates.
To many minds there is simply no way to ask questions about injustice, much less to offer answers unless they are aligned with critical race theory. And strangely enough, this seems to be the place where both critical theorists and their critics agree: that it’s either all or nothing. The CRT crowd is quick to identify their favorite philosophy with any quest for racial justice.