Andrew Sullivan is a mainstream leftist of the old style, so he opposes critical race theory’s overt desire to displace liberalism. That’s understandable, but blinds him to the very idea that conservatism has both a cogent critique of CRT and liberalism, plus a sensible prescription for what ails American society on race. It’s as if his world extends only from traditional liberalism to today’s extreme Left. In a somewhat lengthy post on CRT and leftist elites, Sullivan utters not a peep about conservatives’ take on race.
Still, his piece is entirely worth the read. Consider what, just a few years ago, President Obama said about the anniversary of MLK’s March on Selma.
[S]omeone… said to him: “That was a great celebration of African-American history.” To which Obama said he replied: “No, no, no, no, no. That was not a great celebration of African-American history. That was a celebration of American history.”
Or this about the racist rants of Pastor Jeremiah Wright:
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country — a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past.
Or this about blacks doing for themselves without white “help:”
It means taking full responsibility for own lives — by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
Those statements are less than 10 years old, but, if made today, would have Obama immediately branded a racist, a white supremacist and a traitor to his race. Sullivan makes the point, but ignores the fact that his adored idol has, since the ascendancy of CRT, failed to reassert his stated liberal values, to be, publicly and forthrightly, the black former President of the United States standing up for America’s fundamental decency and progress.
What is this madness – larger than just CRT - that so possesses leftist elites? Sullivan offers a pretty good summary:
Due process? If you’re a male on campus, gone. Privacy? Stripped away — by anonymous rape accusations, exposure of private emails, violence against people’s private homes, screaming at folks in restaurants, sordid exposés of sexual encounters, eagerly published by woke mags. Non-violence? Exceptions are available if you want to “punch a fascist.” Free speech? Only if you don’t mind being fired and ostracized as a righteous consequence. Free association? You’ve got to be kidding. Religious freedom? Illegitimate bigotry. Equality? Only group equity counts now, and individuals of the wrong identity can and must be discriminated against. Color-blindness? Another word for racism. Mercy? Not for oppressors. Intent? Irrelevant. Objectivity? A racist lie. Science? A manifestation of white supremacy. Biological sex? Replaced by socially constructed gender so that women have penises and men have periods. The rule of law? Not for migrants or looters. Borders? Racist. Viewpoint diversity? A form of violence against the oppressed.
All true, but don’t CRT advocates see the consequences – to them, if no one else - of our or any society’s adopting the above? Do they know no history at all? History abounds with instances in which, for example, due process of law was done away with. One notable instance is now called The Holocaust, another The Killing Fields, another The Stalinist Purges, and yet another the Great Cultural Revolution. Can these people possibly be stupid enough to not see that, in their magically-transformed Brave New World, they’d be the first into the camps?
Strict adherence to an ideology is rarely a good idea because it requires the disciple to ignore both the shortcomings of his ideology and the good points of others. But leftist elites benefit from the status quo in the U.S., and, for all intents and purposes, always have. So, because this society, like every other multiracial society in history, has failed to achieve exact equity among all races and ethnicities, they want to burn it down. CRT and the greater leftist critique of capitalism are not only grievously at odds with known facts, but would be a disaster for everyone, perhaps especially leftists. This is what they want? Embracing an ideology is one thing; embracing one that seeks one’s own destruction plumbs the depths of madness.
As Sullivan so astutely points out, this revolution has nothing to do with the grassroots. It’s a rebellion by elites against the very society, economy and culture that’s benefited them so hugely. Elites are once again telling everyone else what’s good for us and, if most of us disagree, that’s our problem.
We are going through the greatest radicalization of the elites since the 1960s. This isn’t coming from the ground up. It’s being imposed ruthlessly from above, marshaled with a fusillade of constant MSM propaganda, and its victims are often the poor and the black and the brown.
But one of the main reasons “its victims are often the poor and the black and the brown” is that CRT gets the matter catastrophically wrong. The wrong diagnosis can’t lead to the right cure.
A plank of [CRT], for example, is that the only and exclusive reason for racial inequality is “white supremacy.” Culture, economics, poverty, criminality, family structure: all are irrelevant, unless seen as mere emanations of white control. Even discussing these complicated factors is racist, according to Ibram X Kendi.
The obvious rejoinder being that “culture, economics, poverty, criminality, family structure” are all entirely relevant to explaining racial disparities. The reason that CRT proponents ignore those influences isn’t that they don’t matter, but that they contradict the core tenet of the CRT belief system - that racial oppression by whites against blacks explains all.
That of course is where conservative thought comes in, or should. Conservative thought holds that, whatever the quantum of actual anti-black racism there may be in this society, blacks can always do (and always have done) what they can to improve their own lot. So, for example, committing fewer crimes would mean fewer blacks in prison. Studying as hard as Asian kids would hugely improve educational outcomes. (Multiple studies show black kids spending less time on homework and more in front of the TV than Asian or white kids.) And only having children within marriage would reduce the incidence of innumerable dysfunctional behaviors that beset kids who grow up without a father.
None of that is beyond the competency of black people, but CRT holds fast to the loony notion that, if you’re black, improving your behavior has no effect on your well-being. It’s an absurd concept, but there it is.
Andrew Sullivan nowhere suggests the salutary notion that black people are capable of black uplift. He’s a liberal and that’s a conservative idea. Is he as blind to it as those who embrace CRT? If his understanding of politics and society extends only from traditional liberalism to our present-day extreme Left and if liberalism has failed black people and CRT has no chance of doing better, where does that leave him?