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  • Ari Patrinos

CRT is not a ‘Scientific Theory’ but instead ‘Creative Writing’

What is called “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) is not a theory in the scientific sense. There are no ‘natural laws of racial motion’ rigorously derived from empirical evidence. It’s more of an unproven ‘socio-racial hypothesis’ or even an article of ‘political faith’ than anything else. Unlike the physical sciences or genuine social science, the aim of the work done in the name of CRT is not to empirically verify its hypotheses, but instead to tell a creative story that advances the author’s subjective feelings about race in America. For example, Derrick Bell, often credited with ‘inventing’ CRT, writes frequently of the importance of ‘creative storytelling’ to his new approach: Critical race theory writing and lecturing is characterized by frequent use of the first person, storytelling, narrative, allegory, interdisciplinary treatment of law, and the unapologetic use of creativity. CRT is really just a creative story invented by black intellectuals, intended to convey their subjective feelings about race in America. CRT should not be confused with genuine ‘social science’. In fact, it is rather dismissive of empirical research, and tends to find such research to be ‘racist’ if it does not verify CRT’s interpretation of things. CRT is inspired by the Black Power movement. The first major law school textbook associated with CRT was Bell’s Race, Racism, & American Law, published in 1973. Bell dedicates this book to the Black Power movement, specifically to the two black American Olympic athletes who performed a so-called ‘Black Power’ salute at the 1968 Mexico City games. To Americans like FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover or then Governor Ronald Reagan, this shocking display was an international embarrassment to be exploited for anti-American propaganda by the Soviet Union. But to people like Derrick Bell, this was essential to black American progress: This book is dedicated to all those who throughout America's history have risked its wrath to protest its faults. Courageous black athletes mounted a famous protest against racism at the 1968 Olympic games. That protest, like so many that preceded it, constituted a prophecy. At the center of CRT is the Black Power movement’s interpretation of American history that views ‘protest politics’ as the primary engine of ‘black social progress’. Mind you, there is absolutely no evidence to support this. Thomas Sowell, who is an empirical social scientist, argues that the Civil Rights Acts were beneficial, but their overall utility for black social progress has been overestimated. As proof, he cites the fact that the rate of black economic progress in the twenty years before 1960 was larger than the rate of economic growth in the twenty years after the Civil Rights Acts were passed. Moreover, the literacy rate of blacks doubled in those years. Black Americans were making social progress at an unprecedented rate in their history even before the Civil Rights Movement began, and before anyone even heard of Martin Luther King, Jr. These are facts. The Civil Rights Movement had nothing to do with this historic and unprecedented black social progress of the 1940s & 1950s, but instead arose as a product of this social progress. It was a part of the overall black social progress of that time, but not the primary part. It just received bigger headlines and more television coverage than other forms of black social progress. It’s just more talked about. Primarily to create CRT style ‘race narrative’. These are facts that are often lost in histories like the 1619 Project: The Civil Rights Movement arose as a product of the tremendous strides blacks were making independently of ‘protest politics’. This progress was not primarily caused by ‘protest politics’. The Civil Rights Movement was not the primary engine of black social progress in the 20th century, but instead reflected the progress already being made. This is a bias or myth of black political activists, who overestimate their own importance. Did Jews, Italians, Irish, Korean, and Chinese immigrants make progress primarily through ‘protest politics’? No. It had nothing to do with that, and the same applies to black people. One simply needs to ignore the myths and follow the evidence. Baked into CRT is the bias of the radical black activist, the Black Power advocate, who tends to privilege ‘protest politics’ above all else, and to think that it’s important that black people talk a lot about ‘racism’. According to Stokely Carmichael’s still highly influential work, Black Power, what white people had traditionally called ‘the American race problem’ was in fact a white person’s problem. They were racist. It had nothing to do with black people. White people should be blamed for all race problems. The so-called ‘American race problem’ is white folks. This is the standard view of the black Democratic establishment today, shaped by these doctrines no doubt. Take a recent speech by the US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, which is a softer fromulation, but still represents effectively the same interpretation: Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you for never backing down. Your lifetime of activism is an inspiration to us all… Racism is the problem of the racist. And it is the problem of the society that produces the racist. And in today’s world, that is every society. It’s all about white people’s racism, and black people maximize their social progress through ‘protest politics’ and ‘political activism’. These are the assumptions underlying the Ambassador’s statement. The same assumptions as Stokely Carmichael, Derrick Bell, and CRT generally. Even President Obama falls for some of these unwarranted assumptions in his celebrated ‘race speech’ of 2008, during his first Presidential campaign: And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part — through protests and struggles, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience, and always at great risk — to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time. The hidden assumption is that ‘protest politics’ has been the main engine of black progress. Perhaps President Obama attended too many of Jeremiah Wright’s ‘black liberation’ sermons while living in Chicago. In the end, the best way to rid ourselves of CRT is not to ban it, but simply to expose it publicly to the rigors of extended debate and empirical verification, because it will never stand up to examination. CRT is more like the secular theology of a black political religion than anything else. Aristarchus Patrinos; May 8, 2021; ~1100 words


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