Critical race theory is a subject none of us who regrettably toil in this area prefer to deal with. The very “theory” is as inane as it is incomprehensible, impenetrable, and toxic. Trying to figure it out, and then convey it in an understandable form to others to figure out, is not just difficult, undesirable, but frankly painful.
But alas, some of us have had to step forward to study it and write about it. James Lindsey, a leading authority on the divisive subject of critical race theory, is one such unfortunate person.
Lindsey’s unenviable odyssey into the ugly world of Critical Race Theory (Lindsey’s places it in upper case) is clear in his latest book Race Marxism, a fascinating attempt to understand “CRT,” to define it, and, most of all, to pin down and present to the public its indisputably Marxist roots. That latter endeavor is the great value of the book. It was something that Lindsey himself was surprised to see over time.
“As the author,” confesses Lindsey in his introduction, “I wish to make clear that I did not come to the conclusions of this book easily and, in fact, resisted for many years the central contention of the book—that Critical Race Theory is race Marxism—until the evidence overwhelmed me.”
In arriving at those conclusions, Lindsey did what many of us who study this junk did, namely: he plowed through the works of the CRT founders, practitioners, pioneers, and leading advocates themselves—their texts, their articles, their notes from their meetings and conferences, and more.
Really, that’s what it takes—lots of heavy lifting and way too much of a person’s valuable time. My advice to Catholics: invest your precious reading time in something edifying, spiritually uplifting, and not in this intellectual rubbish and sophistry that does nothing for the soul. Let others suffer through the research. With this book, Lindsey has helped you.
The obvious Marxist roots
If only others would do the same and pick up books like this. They would learn what Lindsey learned, namely: the Marxist roots of CRT are obvious. The evidence is indeed overwhelming.
The problem, sadly, is that most people don’t bother confronting the evidence. They instead—and by “they,” I mean naïvely ignorant progressives, especially those on the Religious Left—turn their guns on the people who dare to expose CRT’s origins. Much like what was done by so many liberals during the Cold War, they shout and scream at those exposing the radicals rather than the radicals themselves. The bad guys are not the ones responsible for the noxious ideas, you see, but those who have bravely ventured to focus the spotlight on those responsible.
To the modern social-justice wokester with the BLM sign in her front yard, the likes of Lindsey are the bad guys.
Nonetheless, what Lindsey does with this book is good. He presents in his pages the evidence of those radical origins. “[I]t is only truly possible to understand Critical Race Theory by understanding that it is neo-Marxist,” notes Lindsey. He notes that this “ugly Theory” is a product of neo-Marxism combined with post-modernism.
That is no match made in heaven.
Lindsey further adds, crucially, that critical race theory derives (this ought to be obvious) from the field of “critical theory” developed by the Frankfurt School and its culture-based Marxists. For the record, we have always called this “cultural Marxism,” though Google and Wikipedia have—quite recklessly—recently and suddenly labeled cultural Marxism an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory” (click here and here for my extensive analyses of this bizarre phenomenon).
Lindsey’s book goes right to the horse’s mouth, pulling directly from the pens of CRT’s founders. He quotes from the seminal book by Kimberlé Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller, and Kendall Thomas, eds., Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement. Here are several key passages from that book:
[S]o-called racialist accounts of racism and the law grounded the subsequent development of Critical Race Theory in much the same way that Marxism’s introduction of class structure and struggle into classical political economy grounded subsequent critiques of hierarchy and social power.
As we conceive it, Critical Race Theory (CRT) embraces a movement of left scholars…. Organized by a collection of neo-Marxist intellectuals, former New Left activists, ex-counter-culturalists, and other varieties of oppositionists in law schools, the Conference on Critical Legal Studies established itself as a network of openly leftist law teachers, students, and practitioners committed to exposing and challenging the ways American law served to legitimize an oppressive social order…. Critical Race Theory … rejects the prevailing orthodoxy that scholarship should be “neutral” and “objective.”
By the late seventies, Critical Legal Studies existed in a swirl of formative energy, cultural insurgency, and organizing momentum: It had established itself as a politically, philosophically, and methodologically eclectic but intellectually sophisticated and ideologically left movement … that reinterpreted whole doctrinal areas of law from an explicitly ideological motivation.
There is, of course, much more. Kimberlé Crenshaw and her cohorts write of CRT’s founding workshop and grounding in critical theory (i.e., the Frankfurt School):
Principally organized by Kimberlé Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda, and Stephanie Phillips, the workshop drew together thirty-five scholars who responded to a call to synthesize a theory that, while grounded in critical theory, was responsive to the realities of racial politics in America. Indeed, the organizers coined the term “Critical Race Theory” to make it clear that our work locates itself in the intersection of critical theory and race, racism, and the law.
The great service provided by James Lindsey is to simply share for the masses these quotes from CRT’s founders themselves. For those who have convinced themselves that there’s no Marxism there, these quotes should compel to change their minds. If they just read the book.
Activism aimed at transforming society
Lindsey also exposes the pabulum commonly offered by CRT defenders that this is merely some esoteric “legal theory” we need not be concerned about at all—especially those rube parents who object to CRT being taught to their school children. Naïvely ignorant defenders of CRT want to argue that its advocates have no interest in ideological activism or changing society. Lindsey dispenses of this by quoting the opening words and definition of CRT from the first paragraph of the other seminal work on the subject, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, who write:
What is Critical Race Theory? The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power…. Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including … neutral principles of constitutional law.
Delgado and Stefancic continue: “Unlike some academic disciplines, critical race theory contains an activist dimension. It not only tries to understand our social situation, but to change it; it sets out not only to ascertain how society organizes itself along racial lines and hierarchies, but to transform it.”
Look carefully at those words from these two leading authorities of CRT: the goal of CRT is to change and transform society. Hence, this is not some mere “legal theory” confined to Ivory Tower law-school profs. Not at all. Just ask CRT’s leading theorists.
Delgado and Stefancic themselves assert:
Although CRT began as a movement in the law, it has rapidly spread beyond that discipline. Today, many scholars in the field of education consider themselves critical race theorists who use CRT’s ideas to understand issues of school discipline and hierarchy, tracking, affirmative action, high-stakes testing, controversies over curriculum and history, bilingual and multilingual education, and alternative and charter schools.
Delgado and Stefancic continue: “Critical race theory has exploded from a narrow sub-specialty of jurisprudence chiefly of interest to academic lawyers into a literature read in departments of education, cultural studies, English, sociology, comparative literature, political science, history, and anthropology around the country.”
Again, that speaks for itself.
The case of Kendi
James Lindsey also drills down on the wild work of Ibram X. Kendi, the father of the “How To Be An Anti-Racist” movement—the title of his huge bestselling book. Kendi defenders insist that Kendi is not an actual CRT advocate. We need not worry about him. But what has Kendi said?
Kendi told MSNBC (June 23, 2021): “I admire critical race theory, but I don’t identify as a critical race theorist. I’m not a legal scholar. So I wasn’t trained on critical race theory. I’m a historian.”
Okay, fair enough. But Kendi has certainly been influenced by CRT.
“I’ve certainly been inspired by critical race theory and critical race theorists,” said Kendi in Slate magazine (June 12, 2021). “The ways in which I’ve formulated definitions of racism and racist and anti-racism and anti-racist have not only been based on historical evidence, but also Kimberlé Crenshaw’s intersectional theory. She’s one of the founding and pioneering critical race theorists…. It’s important for us to understand that and that’s foundational to my work.”
More important is how Kendi has taken off with these ideas and, akin to CRT’s aggressive advocates, sought to implement them pervasively throughout (truly) all of society. In fact, to say that Kendi’s ambitions are pervasive is an understatement. James Lindsey quotes Kendi from his opus, How to Be an Antiracist: “There is no such thing as a racist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups.”
If you’re keeping tabs, that’s four “everys” in one sentence.
As James Lindsey shows, when Kendi uses sweeping language like “every,” he really does mean “every.” In fact, Kendi favors the entire country seeking, passing, and implementing a grandiose “Anti-Racist Constitutional Amendment.” And what would that entail? Kendi tells us:
Americans should pass an anti-racist amendment to the U.S. Constitution…. The amendment would make unconstitutional racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials (with “racist ideas” and “public official” clearly defined). It would establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA) comprised of formally trained experts on racism and no political appointees. The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas. The DOA would be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas.
That is utterly extraordinary. Truly breathtaking.
Lindsey’s book is filled with such statements from the likes of Kendi, Delgado and Stefancic, Crenshaw, and maybe the zaniest advocate of them all, Robin DiAngelo, who penned the outrageous White Fragility.
For exposing this and more, James Lindsey deserves our praise. And yet, for exposing this and more, Lindsey is pilloried by the woke mobs of the cancel culture. They roast him for “racism.”
But in truth, the racism is found in the very assumptions of Marxist-based critical race theory. It is a theory that stereotypes people according to race. It defines people by race. It views everything through the lens of race. Like with classical Marxism, which defined people through class and viewed everything through the lens of class, your category is your destiny. Your group defines you.
You are not an individual made in the Imago Dei, but a member of an ideologically defined group. The ideologues hammer you into their tidy ideological categories.
Of course, the Christian faith rejects identity-based classifications of human beings. Marxism and critical race theory pit people against one another, into camps of oppressed vs. oppressor.
Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, a close friend and associate of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said of CRT: “Today, too many ‘remedies’—such as Critical Race Theory, the increasingly fashionable post-Marxist/post-modernist approach that analyzes society as institutional group power structures rather than on spiritual or one-to-one human level—are taking us in the wrong direction: separating even school children into explicit racial groups, and emphasizing differences instead of similarities.”
Unlike the Christian worldview, Dr. Walker added that, “The roots of CRT are planted in entirely different intellectual soil. It begins with ‘blocs’ (with each person assigned to an identity or economic bloc, as in Marxism).”
Walker’s good friend, the Rev. Dr. King, would not have supported CRT. “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” said King.
CRT judges people by the color of their skin.
I asked David Garrow, the preeminent biographer of King, what King might have thought of CRT. “CRT so post-dates him that there’s no connection,” said Garrow, “but MLK would have most certainly rejected ANY identity-based classification of human beings.”
He most certainly would have.
Obviously, and really it should be needless to say, CRT is not something that Christians or Catholics should be embracing. Though James Lindsey’s book does not get into that aspect, it does dive deep into the “race Marxism” behind CRT. And for exposing those poisonous roots behind CRT, we should be grateful to James Lindsey.
Race Marxism: The Truth About Critical Race Theory and Praxis
By James Lindsey
New Discourses, 2022
Hardcover, 297 pages
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