Opinion

Parents are sick of critical-theory apologists’ lies

It’s all CRT these days.

As the debate over critical theories in US public schools has heated up, major papers have published a ream of articles denying that critical race theory is taught much at all outside law schools, while others have drawn the most technical of distinctions between CRT proper and other academic specialties like whiteness studies, critical pedagogy, intersectionality, white fragility, white privilege theory and so on.

But these semantics are useless to parents concerned that their children are being taught nonsense.

While technical differences exist between the various critical paradigms, virtually all of them share these baseline assumptions: 1) racism is “everywhere”; 2) supposedly neutral systems, such as policing or standardized tests, are set up to oppress minorities; 3) to prove the existence of this oppression one need only note that large groups perform at different levels; 4) the solution to this problem is “equity” — or proportional representation of all groups across all endeavors.

None of this is an exaggeration. The claim about racism being “everyday” and constant comes from Richard Delgado, one of the founders of CRT. The claim that group differences must indicate racism or other prejudice comes from no less a critical eminence than Ibram X. Kendi.

Parents reject most of this package of ideas not because they are bigots or too complacent in suburbia, but because they believe it is wrong. As Thomas Sowell and others have pointed out for more than 40 years, the idea that gaps in performance between large groups must be due either to racism or to genetics is absurd.

Groups of people who vary in race and religion also often vary across other cultural and situational traits. For example, the most common age for a black American, which could be fairly called the modal average, is 27; the most common age for a white American is 58. Simply adjusting for these differences in age (and thus work experience), and for a few other traits (like the regions people live in and their scores on standard aptitude tests) closes black-white gaps in income to almost nothing.

Many of the ideas about racism taught in schools comes from activists like Ibram X. Kendi.
Many of the ideas about racism taught in schools comes from activists like Ibram X. Kendi.
AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

In fact, either seven or eight — depending on how you count South Africans — of the top 10 income-earning groups in the United States these days are made up of “people of color.”

CRT ideas can’t withstand factual scrutiny. After years of flattering mainstream media coverage of Black Lives Matter, a large recent study revealed that the majority of “very liberal” Americans believes that in a typical year, police kill anywhere from “about 1,000” to “more than 10,000” unarmed black men. The real figure last year: 18.

A serious look at the data on interracial crime and conflict reveals similar patterns. Major papers run nonstop stories about cruel whites or mobs attacking minorities. Meantime, figures from the US National Crime Victimization Study reveal that only about 3 percent of all serious crimes in a normal year, like 2019, are violent crimes involving a white perpetrator and a black victim or a black perp and a white victim; 70 percent to 90 percent of these incidents are generally black-on-white, rather than the reverse.

Facts matter, but so does context. Critical theorists say some things that are essentially true, but meaningless — and likely to mislead unless one has a nuanced understanding of history or other disciplines.

For example, it is undeniably true that slavery once existed in the United States. However, it is also undeniably true that almost every other powerful nation in history held slaves as well.

A trans-African slave trade run largely by Muslim merchants lasted far longer than even the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and it subjected far more people (about 18 million) to ­human bondage. The same amoral traders didn’t hesitate to sell battle captives or shipwrecked sailors with pale skin: the conveniently forgotten Barbary slave trade shipped more than 1 million Caucasian slaves to Arab and black masters for centuries.

Focusing lesson plans and curricula on the horrors of slavery without ever mentioning the universal nature of the practice or the fact that it was ended by Western countries is hardly “just being honest.”

Just being honest: That phrase really sums up what parents demand. They want an honest, fair and reasonably apolitical ­curriculum that depicts the United States as it was and is, warts and all.

Wilfred Reilly is an assistant professor of political science at Kentucky State University and author of “Hate Crime Hoax.” Adapted from City Journal.