In his Fourth of July speech, Frederick Douglass stated that the Constitution, “interpreted, as it ought to be interpreted, … is a glorious liberty document.” Fundamentally, he believed that America had a duty to abolish slavery in order to fulfill its founding ideals. America’s founding principles, espoused throughout history by leaders of racial progress like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., are denied by Critical Race Theory, or CRT. Due to its false and subversive nature, indoctrinating students with CRT would be irresponsible and dangerous.
Before addressing the problems with CRT, it must be defined. CRT claims that American institutions, no matter how neutral, are still being used to perpetuate racism. However, CRT has an inherently shifting definition that is abused by its proponents to evade criticism. In order to delegitimize attacks against it, CRT labels rationality a part of “whiteness” and calls math a white-supremacist tool. All this is to defend the primary claim of CRT, which is that American institutions, despite their long history of racial progress, still exist to perpetuate racism. Currently, “softer” versions of CRT, without the attacks against objectivity, have been proposed for use in classrooms. However, classroom-CRT retains many of the same faults.
Firstly, CRT falsely teaches students that America’s founding is racist. There is a difference between highlighting the evils of slavery, which has been done in elementary schools for decades, and claiming that America was founded by white supremacists to preserve slavery. In reality, a significant number of the Founders were abolitionists. Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, considered slavery a “hideous blot” on the nation and criticized it in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence. George Washington, who also struggled with the immorality of slavery, freed all his slaves in his will. Although some of the Founders were slaveholders, the language of the founding documents and surrounding texts highlights that establishing an independent nation was their priority, and compromising with the South by allowing slavery to continue was a necessary evil.
Even worse than lying about America’s founding, CRT claims that the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights Act did not make America a non-racist country, ignoring the fact that there is no racially discriminatory law, and that racial discrimination is illegal. As evidence of racism, CRT instead points to the current demographic discrepancies between Blacks and whites.
However, common evidence cited to show the disparate treatment between Black and white Americans is misleading, if not false. A recent survey showed that people identifying as liberal believed Blacks made up 57% of police shooting fatalities. The true percentage? 24%, even though Blacks commit 36% of violent crime and 51% of murder, propensity to such actions being highly correlated with negative police interactions. Although Blacks are shot by police disproportionately relative to their population, they are even more disproportionately likely to be violent criminals, and therefore more likely to force policemen to take defensive action. It would be absurd to state that policing is racist if incidents did not exactly match demographic proportions, especially if underlying factors such as crime rates also do not match. Furthermore, the infamous “driving while black” effect has been called into question by studies showing that Black people violate traffic laws at higher rates than other races. And considering other races, CRT ignores the fact that Asian Americans earn higher incomes than whites.
Ultimately, CRT claims that America was founded on fundamentally racist principles, and that its institutions, despite the abolishment of slavery and the Civil Rights Act, continue to promote racism to this day. Therefore, CRT demands to reset the foundations of the nation. This includes undermining capitalism, disregarding the judicial and legal systems, and otherwise razing American systems to the ground. In simpler English, it condones, if not encourages, the rioting and looting that occurred in the weeks after George Floyd’s death.
The final component of CRT is its call-to-arms. CRT rides on a wave of anti-racist sentiment and claims that the only effective anti-racist action is to reset America. Because our economic, legal, and political systems perpetuate a racial hierarchy, looting stores, burning courtrooms, and endangering law enforcement has become acceptable. A nation cannot survive if its students are taught that violence is acceptable and that “a riot is the language of the unheard”.
CRT is an incorrect and violent ideology, and its desire to find racism in non-racial systems destabilizes the country. No matter how subtly CRT may be introduced, instilling students with any form of the CRT mindset would be irresponsible and dangerous.