It’s no surprise that parents are outraged at public schools teaching “critical race theory” (CRT)—or whatever term one prefers for the fashionable notions that America is systemically racist and that the solution is to treat people differently based on skin color. Taxpayers, after all, typically expect the schools they pay for to teach kids history, science, literature, and math—not to indoctrinate them into false and destructive political dogmas.
Many school bureaucrats deny that these notions are being taught in classrooms, but they are. Former teacher Kali Fontanilla—to cite just one example—recently revealed how schools in her home state of California are “hyper race-focused,” with social science classes centered around teaching that “America was built to only help the white man.” Curricula rooted in CRT dispense with historical facts, and aim instead at instructing black students that capitalism, private property rights, the constitutional rule of law, and other elements of American democracy are inherently biased against them, so that nothing short of a radical overhaul of government and culture can enable them to succeed. White students, on the other hand, are taught that whatever success their families have attained is merely a consequence of undeserved “privilege,” for which they must atone. (As for Asian students, they’re effectively ignored.)
Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said at a board of education meeting last fall, “our curriculum is deeply using critical race theory,” not just in history and social science, but in “the other disciplines,” and that the effort was “intentional.” That only makes sense: It’s hard to see how an English teacher’s lesson plan would be unaffected by the notion that “worship of the written word” is “characteristic of white supremacy,” or how a science instructor could teach physics if she believes “either/or thinking” and “objectivity” are racist.
The sad truth is that these ideas are themselves both racist and debilitating. They’re racist because they presume—indeed, overtly declare—either that all white people believe or act in certain ways, or that virtues such as objectivity and professionalism are by definition white characteristics. And they’re debilitating because they lead students to conclude that the cultural and social patterns arising from such concepts as individual rights or the rule of law are inevitably oppressive. Simply put, the most important part of the CRT formula is the word systemic. When America is alleged to be systemically racist, the system in question is capitalist liberalism, if not Western civilization itself. Overturning that “system” is CRT’s imperative.