On March 3,1991, Rodney King led the Los Angeles police on a high-speed chase, reaching 110 to 115 m.p.h. When the police finally pulled him over, it took a squad of 15-21 officers to finally subdue the behemoth of a man as he continually resisted their demands to get on the ground. Even after being tasered twice, King kept charging the officers, as if he were high on PCP. It took several bone-breaking whacks of their batons before he finally relented.
According to one of the jurors, who unpopularly acquitted the four officers, charged in King’s beating, Time and again, King controlled the action. He could have stopped.. as quoted by ABC News. To his credit, King, who died on June 17, 2012, made a television appearance, during the ensuing riots, pleading for their end. I just want to say…can we all get along…Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids?… Let’s try to work it out…
The King riots were not the first in the second half of the 20th century. I vividly remember the Burn Baby Burn violence of 1965 in Watts and Detroit in 1968 to name just two. Several people were killed as mobs roamed the streets, looting and terrorizing several American cities. However, they were undisciplined, random and seemingly without any purpose other than taking out their hatred and frustrations on private property and each other. Unlike previous riots, the Ferguson nightmare of 2014, and the summer of 2020 riots had a much more organized focus and agenda because they were fostered, planned and executed by an ideologically-driven mob, populated with radical groups of Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
These groups, especially BLM, underscore the connection of Karl Marx’s thinking to what is transpiring in our urban culture today. At its core is Critical Race Theory, which is being rapidly fueled by the Biden Administration. Writing in Newsweek, talk show host Liz Wheeler connected all the intellectual dots. Critical Race Theory isn’t a theory at all. Nor is it a ‘perspective’ of teaching history. It is racism and bigotry, and not only that—it’s an attempt to revive a failed Marxist agenda. She added that CRT is an offshoot of critical theory, the brainchild of the Frankfurt School, a group of 20th-century Marxists associated with the Institute for Social Research.
Drs. Denise Donohue and Dan Guernsey, writing for The Cardinal Newman Society explained how CRT’s principles of fighting for freedom over oppression to effect equity in societal and economic structures harken back to Karl Marx and Frederick Engel’s writings in The Communist Manifesto (1848). While Marx did not write extensively on education, he and Engels demanded free public education for the proletariat or the oppressed working class. Marx’s ideas on education gained more currency in 1929, at the Institute of Social Research in Germany, better known as the aforementioned Frankfurt School. In 1937, Max Horkheimer authored an exposition on Critical Theory, in which he explained how people’s cultural feelings dictated how they behaved, more than their intellects. Thus Critical Theory like its Marxist forbears divided everyone… into classes of oppressed and oppressors, but posits that the so-called oppressed stand in the way of revolution when they adhere to the societal belief systems and cultural norms of their so-called oppressors. Therefore, their cultural standards must be destroyed through relentless criticism for the revolution to work. We call this cancel culture.
It was Sardinian Antonio Gramsci, a founder of the Italian Communist Party in 1921, who was the first to admit that Marxism as an economic system had been an abject failure. He advised his comrades that Catholics, especially their women, were so tied to their culture that until that was destroyed, there would be little hope for a successful revolution. Gramsci’s observations took critical theory one step further. He posited that workers and their families had to be re-schooled in a new culture, based on a long march through their culture that would replace Christianity with Marxist values and destroy Western Civilization and with it capitalism.
This begs the question as to how Critical Theory added Race to its ideology, which has quickly become the beacon for revolutionary change among the Woke Left in America. It was German émigré, Frankfurt School alumnus, and American college professor, Herbert Marcuse, who helped transition critical theory into Critical Race Theory by substituting a new worker for their revolution. He recognized the descendants, born of our original sin, slavery, would serve ideally as the new vanguard for CRT. As Liz Wheeler put it, who better to re-educate than a demographic of people whose ancestors had suffered oppression in America based on their skin color? Who better to paint as victims of a belief system of the ‘oppressors’ and to claim the only way to liberation was to demolish the institutions of the oppressors?
According to New York Post columnist, Christopher Rufo, CRT is becoming America’s new institutional orthodoxy. Yet most Americans have never heard of it and of those who have, many don’t understand it. For starters, Harvard Law professor Derrick Bell and other legal scholars began using the phrase critical race theory in the 1970s as an offshoot of critical legal theory, a branch of legal scholarship that challenges the validity of concepts, such as rationality, objective truth, and judicial neutrality, all derivatives of the Positivist legal philosophy of long-term Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Critical race theorists argue that what many Americans think of as the white race does not describe a distinct group of people but rather a social construct that serves to benefit some groups and marginalize others. Bell’s modern apostles, which include former President Barack Obama, have conjured the term white supremacy, which serves as a valuable dysphemism for the more positive ideas of meritocracy, hard work and sacrifice. These attributes of the American work ethic rank near the top on the target list of CRT language assassins. CRT also strongly relies on the intellectual framework of identity-based Marxism. This false perspective sees the nation as a boiling cauldron of victimized groups oppressed by the dominant white racist culture. Like all Marxist activism, it seeks to fan discontent and accentuate resentments, leading to the kind of cultural and civic chaos we have witnessed these past several years.
Critical race theorists have become the masters of language dissonance. They reject equality, with its long history of public proclamation from the Declaration of Independence to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. To them, the word equality means mere nondiscrimination, which provides camouflage for white supremacy, patriarchy and oppression. In contrast to equality, equity as defined and promoted by critical race theorists is little more than reformulated Marxism. In the name of equity, UCLA law professor and critical race theorist Cheryl Harris has proposed suspending private property rights, seizing land and wealth and redistributing them along racial lines.
Over the last generation, CRT has been injected into government agencies, public school systems, teacher training programs and corporate human resources departments in the form of diversity training programs, human resources modules, public policy frameworks and school curricula. Its supporters deploy a series of euphemisms to describe CRT, including social justice, diversity and inclusion. These ambiguous words are the marching cadence of their ancestral Liberte, Égalité, and Fraternite. The designers and advocates of CRT often admit their true intent has nothing to do with civil rights, equality, peace or justice and certainly not a better life for racial minorities. Lenin called people like this his useful idiots.
On the educational front, one of the most engaging weapons that the CRT advocates have devised is the insidious and historically fallacious Project 1619. P-1619 is the handicraft of the New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones, a black American and a pro-Castro Leftist. In the Sunday edition of the August 14, 2019 NYT Magazine, she virtually rewrote all of American History to fit her racist profile. An egregious example of the 1619 Project’s leftward focus was her outrageous claim that the American Revolution was fought for independence from Britain in order to protect the institution of slavery.
For the most part, the Catholic Church has found the devil in the details of CRT. Writing in Current Events, Neil Shenvi and Pat Sawyer discuss The Incompatibility of Critical Theory and Christianity. Each individual is seen either as oppressed or as an oppressor, depending on their race, class, gender, sexuality, and a number of other categories. Oppressed groups are separated, not by physical force or even overt discrimination, but through the exercise of hegemonic power-the ability of dominant groups to impose their norms, values, and expectations on society as a whole, relegating other groups to subordinate positions. This form of cancel culture and has been very effective in relegating the alleged ‘oppressors’ to the public sidelines.
Eminent Church historian, Richard Royal wrote that the American bishops drew a crucial distinction in a statement on President Biden’s Inauguration Day in 2021 between things on which they can cooperate and dialogue and those on which they cannot. Those distinctions were absolutely necessary to avoid the impression – amounting to grave scandal – that they had no problem with a self-proclaimed Catholic taking steps to further abortion, homosexuality, or transgenderism, all of which have been criticized by Pope Francis as a kind of ideological colonization in the developing world, but also in developed nations.
However, almost no one has paid attention to potential dangers in the other half of the bishops’ Inauguration Day statement, namely those issues on which the Biden administration is supposedly good, such as the usual suspects of equity, immigration, the environment and racism. Royal points out that the Bishops’ statement implies that opposite approaches to these issues, other than the than the usual progressive pieties were bad. The bishops need to be very prudent in dialoguing with a Party that has such extreme and erroneous views on social problems in this highly polarized period. For example, the bishops commended Biden for promoting racial equity in housing and prisons. But in the lexicon of CRT, the word more closely resembles the ideological extremism of Black Lives Matter than it does Liberty and Justice for All.
In fact, racial equity is the antithesis of equality. It appears that the bishops are either unaware of the essential differences or they may even have close advisers who are deliberately advancing this novel notion of justice from the Biden agenda. If they know exactly what they are doing, then they are being duplicitous with regard to their responsibility to the Catholics in the pews. This all bodes ill for their entering into any honest dialogue with the Democrats. To simplify this precarious situation, the use of racial equity, wherever a group is defined by race is either over-represented or underrepresented in some sector, signifies that equality of opportunity has not produced equity of outcome. According to the Left, this must mean that there’s some concealed injustice, such as systemic racism and its enforcer, white supremacy at work.
Trying to fix differences among groups via equity is a hopeless task, fraught with self-contradictions and false premises. To use race as basis of judgment, such as the tiresome affirmative action policy of the sixties, uses discrimination to correct discriminations from the past. That can be best described in its crude reality as payback, a racial eye for an eye brand of social justice. According to Royal, the whole concept that one racial group is entitled or needs the government to right past wrongs to reach some arbitrary statistical target, blatantly ignores the fact that people within racial groups have differing personal and motivational histories.
Unsurprisingly, Vince Rougeau writing in the Jesuit periodical America Magazine, emphatically disagrees. First of all, critical race theory, in the context of legal education, is an analytical tool. This boogeyman that some have created around critical race theory—that it’s this mind-control mechanism that is going to destroy our children and make them all feel terrible about being white—is nonsense. To date Pope Francis, the first Jesuit to become pope, has not really taken a public side in this struggle of Faith vs. CRT. However, in his address on June 3rd, he took issue with what he called the sin of racism existing among those who say they fight for all human life. We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.
The pope’s experience in his native Argentina also raises several red flags for Catholics. Since he was a young priest, Pope Francis has identified as a liberation theologian. This teaching was popular with a hard core of far-Left Catholic priests in Latin America from the mid-1960’s until December 25, 1991. Father Bergoglio joined its faction that were not doctrinaire Marxists bent on violent revolution but were welfare state redistributionists. Father Bergoglio was also the head of the Jesuit order in Argentina in the mid-1970’s. When he first assumed office, the Jesuits had been a formidable force for theological conservatism. After 10 years of his leadership, the Jesuits converted to the left, theologically and politically.
Harkening back to my episode on the Capitol steps 58 years ago and my later epiphany about consistency of thought, the pope is and has always been a progressive or liberal in religion and politics. It does not take a genius to understand why he seems to favor the Seamless Garment and will more than likely support CRT. According to the aforementioned Cardinal Newman Society, critical racial theory is tied closely in principle to liberation theology… and sought to apply religious faith by aiding the poor and oppressed through involvement in political and civic affairs. It stressed both heightened awareness of the ‘sinful’ socioeconomic structures that caused social inequities and active participation in changing those structure. This seems a perfect fit with CRT.
Writing in the Imaginative Conservative, biographer Joseph Pearce took Gramsci’s culture war, together with CRT, to a more complex dimension. He sees the cultural battle as it has evolved to be one of the racism of Adolph Hitler versus Karl Marx’s class struggle. He is convinced that Race is winning by a landslide. While it is inconceivable that Marx could have been seduced by Hitler, CRT is as obsessed with race as were the Nazis. According to the new generation of Marxists, their struggle or Ihr Kampf is not about class war but race war.
Unlike the Nazis who focused primarily on the Jews, critical race theorists care more about history. They don’t believe that racism is a prejudicial flaw in humans but something determined by history. It is not evil in the human heart but a wickedness systemic to history itself. As a result, the solution is not teaching and preaching the love of neighbor but the destruction of the ‘system.’ Since the system is American history, their final solution is the end of our history, that is a cancellation of the past and the absolute erasure of the collective memory of the American people through the schools, social and news media. If we are to keep the Faith vital with regard to the Biblical call in Matthew’s Gospel, Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world, the Church must get along or suffer what I call a dry martyrdom.