Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Real Problem with Critical Race Theory

A problem that I see with this article is that what the authors (one of whom I know personally) are describing is not so much critical race theory specifically as much as contemporary “anti-racism” ideology generally (and related concepts like privilege theory, intersectionality, “whiteness,” etc.), and the illiberalism and intolerant or dismissive attitudes toward competing points of view that sometimes accompany these perspectives. As an anarchist, my viewpoint would be that to the degree public schools exist at all, they should be localized institutions that reflect local values and norms, but with school attendance being voluntary rather than compulsory (i.e. scrap truancy laws). I do think instructors should have some degree of academic freedom in state-run schools, and that the civil liberties of students shouldn’t end once they enter the school door, meaning that public schools and universities, like other public institutions, are bound by the protections for individual rights in the federal and state constitutions. Otherwise, what is taught in schools is purely a local matter.

By Amy Wax, Richard K. Vedder

A growing number of parents of K-12 and high school students throughout the country have rebelled against the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) and “anti-racism” in public and private schools. The reasons for their alarm vary, and the rhetorical battles can be confusing, but it is not hard to get to the heart of parents’ objections.

They reject the presentation of our country, its history, its founding, its institutions and its present laws and practices as pervasively, uniformly, profoundly and irredeemably racist. Nor do they accept the corollary that all white Americans automatically enjoy illegitimate “white privilege”—and that they are to blame for every problem that people of color, especially blacks, experience today.

We think that these tenets are dubious at best. But in our opinion the most pernicious aspect of CRT instruction, from an educational perspective, is not its content, but the one-sided, dogmatic intolerance of any alternative point of view.


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