The 2020 Election Asks: Do You Want the People Who Believe America is Racist in Charge?

With critical race theory seeping its way into government agencies and all levels of society, the state of the nation could turn dire if it isn't stopped. Published in The Federalist

Surveying the urban war zones, property destruction, and the shuttered businesses across so many American cities, many wonder, “Just how did we get here, and will we ever regain normalcy?” Those two questions loom over the November election, but what’s really at stake is a choice between civilization and chaos.

Most people don’t realize there is a pernicious ideology behind the Black Lives Matter movement and the Democrat leadership that empowers it, and it’s called critical race theory. Most importantly, this theory is an integral part of Democrats’ strategy to establish a “new normalcy” in every institution, from public schools to all government agencies.

On the eve of Labor Day weekend, following the reporting of Christopher Rufo on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that critical race theory had infiltrated many of the agencies of the Federal bureaucracy, President Trump issued a directive that all federal agencies cancel training programs based in the theory. On Thursday, Trump announced a 1776 Commission to directly respond to CRT with accurate historical education.

Planting Seeds of Critical Race Theory

Unbeknownst to most, critical race theory education and training programs were being promoted throughout various federal government agencies through the Office of Diversity and Inclusionwhich came into existence from President Obama’s 2011 Executive Order 13583. His stated purpose was to “Establish a Coordinated Government Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce.” He amped that up in his last six months in office, perhaps to institutionalize his legacy.

In July 2016, Obama rolled out the “Inclusive Diversity Strategic Plan,” calling on federal agencies to “fully utilize policies, programs, and systems that support inclusive diversity through increasingly focused, innovative, and accelerated communication and learning strategies.”

To make sense of all this, it’s important to recognize that diversity and inclusion were already well established in the federal government long before Obama’s 2011 executive order. At that time, the percentage of blacks and minorities in the federal workforce was about 18 percent and 34 percent respectively, a disproportionately larger representation than in either the civilian population or the private-sector workforce.

By the end of the Obama administration, the percentage of minority representation in the federal government was even higher. Thus the 2016 initiative was probably less about expanding “diversity” and “inclusion” than it was about indoctrination — the “focused, innovative, and accelerated communication and learning strategies” for government personnel — which is where “critical race theory” comes in.

An Outgrowth With Radical Lineage

Critical race theory is a derivative of critical theory, which originally made its way into America courtesy of the leftwing intellectual immigrants of the “Frankfurt School” — neo-Marxists forced to flee Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s. Infamous members of the Frankfurt School included Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Eric Fromm, and Otto Kirchheimer, who set up shop at Columbia University and expanded to the University of California at Berkeley, Princeton University, Harvard University, New School for Social Research, and Brandeis College.

In the 1970s, Harvard Law School Professor Derrick Bell applied critical theory to legal theory, and his 1973 book, “Race, Racism and American Law” became the first primary text on critical race theory, giving birth to the critical race theory movement.

Critical theory and its relative, critical race theory, are not like traditional theories that limit themselves to explaining and understanding certain precise areas of human motivation and behavior. Rather, critical theory is activist-oriented and emphasizes political organizing. Many of its advocates think of themselves as revolutionaries whose primary purpose is to critique and transform society as a whole. In short, critical theory is a radical, emancipatory form of Marxist philosophy.

Advocates of critical race theory downplay the accomplishments of the civil rights movement and generally reject rights-based remedies, such as color blindness, role modeling, and the merit principle. They attack the very foundations of the classical liberal legal order that includes equality theory, legal reasoning, rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law, and specifically opposing neutral rules, such as “one-person, one-vote,” or identification requirements for voting.

The law itself is not viewed as a neutral tool by proponents of critical race theory. Rather, it is considered part of the problem, structured to oppress minorities while preserving a system they believe is steeped in white supremacy.

Institutionalized Racism Infiltrating the Government

Before Trump’s recent directive, critical race theory seminars and training had been going on in at least half a dozen federal agencies.

The U.S. Treasury Department held a training session explicitly telling employees that “virtually all White people contribute to racism,” and that they needed to accept their “unconscious bias, White privilege, and White fragility.” The National Credit Union Administration held a session for 8,900 employees in which it was stated that America was “founded on racism” and “built on the backs of people who were enslaved.”

Sandia National Labs, which produces our nuclear arsenal and is run by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, held a three-day training for its white males, teaching them how to deconstruct their “White male culture” and requiring them to write letters of apology to women and people of color.

The Department of Homeland Security hosted a training on “Microaggressions, Microinequities, and Microassaults” where white employees were told that they had been “socialized into oppressor roles.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government agency at the center of responding to the COVID-19 epidemic, was sponsoring a 13-week critical race theory training called, “Naming, Measuring, and Addressing the Impacts of Racism on Health and Well-Being of the Nation and the World.”

Before Trump’s order stopped the CDC from continuing the training, sessions 10 and 11 were to have trainers teach CDC employees about “the myth of meritocracy,” the “myth of American exceptionalism,” and “White supremacist ideology.” The final two sessions were to have focused on teaching CDC employees how to become activists, and join an “Anti-Racism Collaborative with eight Collective Action Teams,” geared to focus on “communications,” making scientific publications “anti-racist,” and influencing “policy and legislation.”

How many know of the weekly training seminar going on in the J. Edgar Hoover headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the critical race theory subcategory of “Intersectional Theory”? Intersectionality reduces people to being part of a network of racial, gender, and sexual orientation identities that “intersect” in diverse ways that determine the degree to which one is allegedly an oppressor or is allegedly being oppressed.

‘Treason From Within’

With federal bureaucracies already out of control, failing in many of their basic missions, and wasting taxpayer resources, critical race theory training and influence turn agency management on its head and will invariably worsen an already problematic situation. Cicero, one of the greatest defender of the Roman Republic, once said:

A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within … For the traitor appears no traitor; he speaks in the accents familiar to his victim … and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation … he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.

In a free society, fringe groups and extreme ideologies can and do appear. In the face of such extremism, one would hope that the American people and their government representatives would have sufficient judgment and ability to withstand and counter most contradictions and absurdities. Thus, the November election represents a crucial internal test, the failure of which could prove the undoing of the United States as a constitutional republic.

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.