Why People React So Strongly Against Opposition to Critical Race Theory

Lack of understanding and conservative politicization appear to be the main reasons.

Image from Pexels

Recently, I wrote two articles about why liberals should take a stand against critical race theory, and I received an unusually high amount of comments for both articles. As to be expected on such a controversial issue, the comments came from a wide spectrum of views, from people who strongly agreed with my stance to people who strongly disagreed with me.

Thanks to those comments, I now have a much better understanding of the way people are reacting to criticism against CRT.

Analyzing the comments from people who disagreed with my view, these are the most common themes I found:

1. Rejection of CRT is rooted in racism

Criticism of CRT is motivated by a desire to preserve the status quo, at the expense of racial justice.
Criticism of CRT is a political strategy of Republicans or conservatives based on racial grievance.
Rejection of CRT is rooted in refusal to see structural or institutionalized racism, possibly due to ‘white fragility’.

2. The debate around CRT is just a distraction

The current debate about CRT is not really about CRT, but is solely a conservative scare campaign, so it’s not worth our attention.
Criticism of CRT is a right-wing culture war strategy to distract from real issues like healthcare, education and cost of living etc.

3. The scariness of CRT has been vastly exaggerated

CRT is a class that is taught only in law schools.
CRT is a niche academic theory and does not affect society in general. Anything else is only a Republican scare campaign.
People are only scared of CRT because the Left did a bad job of messaging, letting the Right define it wrongly.

4. CRT has important benefits

CRT is beneficial or necessary because liberalism only provides formal legal equality, and does not address cultural oppression.
CRT is important as an academic theory, because it is a useful lens around which research can be conducted, even if it isn’t always accurate.

5. People are misunderstanding CRT

People who support CRT often can’t define CRT well.
People who oppose CRT often can’t define CRT well.
One interesting thing I noticed was that people were basically talking past each other.

In both articles, I had made it clear that I am a committed liberal who stands against all forms of racism. I also explained why I believe CRT is an important issue, and should be opposed from the perspective of liberalism. Yet it appears that many people remain unconvinced. Why is it so?

Having thought about the issue a little more, I came to realize that there is simply a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to what CRT is, or indeed what the broader category of ‘critical theory’ actually is. Importantly, many people seem to think that CRT is just about teaching race-related history, for example the history of slavery in America, accurately. If this is what someone thinks CRT is about, then opposition to CRT would effectively mean refusing to face up to historical racism. It logically follows that they would assume those opposed to CRT must have racist intentions. Mainstream media has not been helpful here either. Many ‘explainers’ about CRT in the media contain only vague definitions, which don’t address the deeper problems with the theory.

And then, there is the unhelpful politicization of the issue. For example, in recent months, a dynamic has developed in American politics where the Republicans have been very vocal about CRT while the Democrats have been largely avoiding the issue. This dynamic has also spread to other English speaking countries. This politicization and polarization has led some people to assume that anyone taking a stand against a CRT must be buying into conservative propaganda.

When responding to the comments in the aforementioned articles, I promised several people that I would write a new article to explain my point of view more clearly. However, on further thought, there is just too much to explain to fit it all into one article. Critical theory has a long history, and it is rooted in a certain radical tradition of 20th century Western politics. Without understanding this context, it is impossible to appreciate the profoundly anti-liberal implications of some of the assumptions of CRT. Without understanding this context, it is also impossible to appreciate why the rise of CRT is indeed bad news for anyone who is committed to reformism. Any explainer of CRT that doesn’t do justice to the historical context of critical theory is going to be way too superficial. It is clear a new article like that will still be unconvincing against the aforementioned criticisms.

Therefore, I have decided to do a whole series of articles, to clearly explain ‘what CRT is actually about’. I will be illustrating how CRT’s roots are inherently pitted against liberalism, and how CRT is part of a wider movement that could transform Western society beyond most people’s current imagination, mostly not in a good way. I will be making the case as to why liberal reformism will likely achieve racial justice quicker than the CRT route. I will also explore how we can reconcile what the CRT perspective has to offer, with the liberal’s need to contain and counter the anti-liberal implications of CRT.

What I will be offering is a liberal voice, a liberal perspective on the potential dangers of CRT. It is what is sorely missing, in a world where the loudest anti-CRT voices are all coming from a conservative perspective, which is causing the issue to be needlessly polarized.

TaraElla is a singer-songwriter and author, who recently published her autobiography The TaraElla Story, in which she described the events that inspired her writing.

She is also the author of the Moral Libertarian Horizon books, which argue that liberalism is still the most moral and effective value system for Western democracies in the 21st century.

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TaraElla

TaraElla

Author & musician. Moral Libertarian. Disrupting the woke vs anti-woke echo chambers and making the West truly liberal again. https://www.taraella.com