Ray Carter | September 28, 2021
Expert says CRT designed to undermine American values
A leading national expert on Critical Theory and its offshoot, Critical Race Theory (CRT), said it is designed to undermine American values by ignoring the reality of progress and assuming the worst about people.
“It literally was designed by Marxists who hoped to take over America with Communism,” said James Lindsay, whose bio describes himself as an “author, mathematician, and professional troublemaker.”
Lindsay has written six books covering a wide range of subjects including religion, the philosophy of science, and postmodern theory. His most recent book, Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody, documents the evolution of Critical Theory (and Critical Race Theory) and how its application today is generating significant societal harm.
Lindsay discussed the book and Critical Race Theory as the featured speaker for the latest cohort of individuals participating in the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ J. Rufus Fears Fellowship, which equips young leaders by exploring the ideals of free enterprise, limited government, personal responsibility, and individual initiative.
Lindsay noted that Critical Theory was first fleshed out in 1937 by Max Horkheimer, a Marxist who realized that Karl Marx was wrong when he concluded the working class would always consider themselves oppressed in a capitalist society and seek to overthrow the power structure through revolution.
Like traditional Marxism, Critical Theory examines everything through the prism of power dynamics, but Critical Theory divides people along lines aside from income.
“Critical Theory was designed to tear apart the existing society, not because it fails but specifically because it works,” Lindsay said. “And if it works, you don’t have a Marxist revolution.”
Horkheimer said Critical Theory had three core components. First, it must have an “idealized vision for a perfected society,” Lindsay noted. Second, the theory must “complain about or criticize how the existing society fails to live up to that vision.” And third, it “must inspire social activism on behalf of achieving that vision.”
“The point is not just to understand society, but to change it,” Lindsay said.
Today, various critical theories focus on alleged power dynamics between different groups, but rather than focus on the rich and the working class, they divide society into identity-based, social-class conflict, including everything from racial lines to pitting heterosexuals who identify as their biological gender against all other groups.
“They kind of still pay lip service to men oppressing women, but only when it’s convenient,” Lindsay said. “Because you can’t have men oppressing women without upholding cis heteronormativity, which is a big problem, a big contradiction for their ideology. But when it’s convenient, they’ll break their own rules. It’s not that big a problem. They’ll find a way. Where there’s a hateful will, there’s a way.”
“Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,” first published in 2001 and updated since by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, explicitly states in its first chapter that Critical Race Theory “questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.”
Lindsay noted that means Critical Race Theory adherents oppose things like the rule of law.
“If you don’t know that this is a constitutional republic, and that rejecting the Constitution is probably un-American, and if you don’t understand that we hold that law neutrally by its design—so if you reject neutral principles of constitutional law that you are being un-American—then you’ve missed the boat on what being American means and I feel for you,” Lindsay said.
Opposition to equality has been a prominent part of many CRT-derived trainings in Oklahoma education, including mandatory student training imposed at the University of Oklahoma in the 2020-2021 school year and staff training at the Norman public school district.
“Equality theory has to be out. Why? Because they claim that if we have equality, then equality reproduces inequality. Equality becomes inequality; it’s a very ‘1984’ kind of moment,” Lindsay said, referencing the famed dystopian novel by George Orwell.
Lindsay said Critical Race Theory supporters will argue that under equality those who are ahead stay ahead and those who are behind never catch up, but he noted that ignores real-world experience.
“They never take this into account: What if the guy ahead is lazy?” Lindsay said. “What if the guy behind decides he’s going to make up the gap? That’s the American dream.”
The dynamism of the United States and the ability of people to swiftly ascend from the lowest to the top rungs of the economic and social ladder counters the core beliefs of Critical Race Theory adherents, he said.
“They completely fail to understand the way the American dream works, because they don’t believe in the American dream,” Lindsay said. “And they’ve tried to teach everybody for 50 years in our schools not to believe in the American dream.”
He also noted that the application of Critical Race Theory results in assuming all people are racist, regardless of action, intent, or outcome.
“Why are they cynical, just to address that? Because they can read your mind,” Lindsay said. “And they ‘know’ that your motivation is always the worst possible motivation.”
As an example, he asked which customer an employee should serve first when two people enter a store at the same time and one is white and one is black. Choose the white customer, and you are assumed to be racist by critical race theorists, Lindsay said. But choose the black customer, and you are still assumed to be racist because you are either trying to hide your racism or do not trust black individuals and are trying to get them out of the store as soon as possible.
“The trick is there was no right answer to the question,” Lindsay said. “There was just a setup to make you wrong. That’s Critical Race Theory. That’s why critical theories are cynical theories. It’s because they can read your mind and interpret whatever you did in the worst possible light.”
He said Critical Race Theory is “an unmitigated tool for blaming people for things that they didn’t even think they knew they were doing, and then leveraging their emotional reaction or the public outcry that arises as a result. That’s all it is.”
To combat CRT, Lindsay said citizens must focus on several core values, including the reality of truth.
“The truth is the same for everybody. There is no such thing as ‘your truth,’” Lindsay said. “If you think there is, cry more, because the world doesn’t care and it’ll get you sooner or later. Reality bats last, and reality is the thing you run into when ‘your truth’ is false.”
(Image: Dr. Rick Farmer, Dean of the J. Rufus Fears Fellowship and Dr. James Lindsay, author and founder of New Discourses)
Director, Center for Independent Journalism
Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.