Every day more Americans are being made aware of critical race theory (CRT) and its potential lethal impact on the cohesiveness and harmony of America’s increasingly multi-ethnic society.
CRT has been simmering and percolating through the halls of academia and think tanks for several decades. Now, CRT has filtered down to permeate the education departments of the teacher colleges and is appearing in curriculum designs from public and private elementary schools, corporate America and the military-industrial complex.
Once again, it helps to define what CRT is and is not. CRT is not simply telling the whole history of America, “warts and all,” which requires remembering and recounting some very ugly chapters concerning slavery and racism. Most Americans are fine with telling the whole story. However, they are not all right with their country being depicted as evil from the beginning (“The 1619 Project”) and the assertion that all whites are racist and that the entire American societal structure is corrupted by racism and white privilege.
America’s parents of white and mixed-race children are not okay with their children being taught that they are “oppressors” and “evil” and “guilty,” or that all non-white children are the persecuted ones who must be granted special favor now to make up for past discrimination. In fact, some CRT enthusiasts argue that the cure for past racial discrimination is current discrimination (against whites), and the cure for current discrimination is future discrimination against whites (the oppressors). Hundreds of thousands of Americans upon hearing these theories articulated by teachers in their children’s classrooms are demanding that it stop and stop immediately.
Many of the curriculum plans formulated to implement CRT in public schools and in the corporate workspaces include the whites and/or white males (the real double-dipping oppressors — race and sex) being coerced to meet separately and confess their white sin or white privilege, etc. Similarly, black affinity groups meet to share the manifold ways they have been, or are being, oppressed by systemic white racism and micro-aggressors.
A few weeks ago in response to President Biden, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) pointed out that when he was a boy, blacks were told in school they were inferior to whites, and now whites are being taught they are morally inferior because they are oppressors, even if only unconsciously. Such division of America into separate and definably conflicting existences is a formula predestined to ever more rend asunder the political and social fabric of the nation.
The end result, much to be desired by the supporters of this Marxist theory, is the delegitimizing of America’s founders and her institutions and her history in order to create a new Marxist order on the rubble of the old America.
In a nation as multi-ethnic as America is now, the question must be asked, why abandon Dr. King’s dream of a nation where we are judged not by the color of our skin but on the content of our character?
Forgive me for saying so, but I often hear an undercurrent of a thirst for revenge against whites on the part of CRT advocates. Several months ago, during the riots in Minneapolis, a white reporter asked a Black Lives Matter activist and CRT supporter, “If we defund the police, what is someone to do in the middle of the night when someone is breaking into your home? Who do you call for help?” The black activist replied, “Assuming you can call the police and that they will come and that they will be on your side are products of white privilege.”
My response to that remarkable exchange then is the same as it is now. Shouldn’t we be seeking to extend that sense of safety to all ethnicities instead of depriving whites so they can suffer the same danger and anxiety as racial minorities have in the past or present?
I fear that some Americans have so marinated themselves in a world defined by the falsehoods of CRT that they developed a perverse set of priorities.
Allow me to employ a Russian anecdote to illustrate my point. When the evil empire of the Soviet Union was crumbing on the “ash heap of history” in 1991, I happened to be in Moscow (Dec. 1, 1991). An elderly Russian Christian told me that he feared the Russian people had suffered so long under communism (since 1917) that it had perverted their thinking and priorities, and he feared how they would handle Western style freedom. I said, “What do you mean?” He replied by telling me a story that at the time was enjoying immense popularity in Moscow. This Russian peasant is trying to eek out minimal existence on the windswept Russian steppes. One day as he was plowing his infertile land, he hit a magic vase, and a genie popped out. “Master,” the genie said, “your wish is my command.” The peasant said, “You know how my land is infertile and my neighbor’s land is extremely fertile?” The genie said, “Yes.” “You know how my neighbor has a loving, caring, supportive wife, and my wife is a witch?” The genie replied, “Yes?” “And you know how my neighbor’s children are well behaved, respectful and industrious, and my children are lazy louts?” The genie by now is getting impatient, and he interrupts, “You want to be like your neighbor, right?” The peasant replies, “No, I want my neighbor to be like me!” I sometimes hear echoes of that twisted desire for shared misery in CRT advocates.
As I was listening to and reading some of the debates on CRT this past week, it really hit me that CRT’s supporters do want to re-segregate America. They really want to divide us into our separate and mutually exclusive “affinity groups.” I cannot think of anything that would act more like Kryptonite to Dr. King’s dream of people of multiple ethnic groups living harmoniously in an American society that is living up to the ideals of its founding documents.
We have made so much progress together since 1954. Are we to now repudiate that progress and go back to our separate ethnic ghettos, engaging in the group judgments of identity politics and repudiate that society where we are never judged on the color of our skin but rather on the content of our character?
We have massive racial integration in housing, schooling, public accommodations, and the workplace. We have elected a Black President (Obama) with 53% of whites voting for him. Ever increasingly, skin color is fading as a barometer of success or significance in American society.
The late great Congressman John Lewis stands as a monument to the success of Dr. King’s dream. In spite of all the privations Reverend Lewis experienced marching and protesting to implement the dream, he never jettisoned the redemptive power of Christian forgiveness for both the perpetrator and the victim.
John Lewis never gave up on Dr. King’s dream for America and neither will I. When Lewis was once criticized as a congressman for not being “black enough,” by those seeking more radical legislation, Mr. Lewis replied, “I follow my conscience, not my complexion.” May all Americans whatever their ethnic identity, aspire to a similar moral standard for our beliefs, for our behavior, for our country.
Instead of falling for the siren song of the fatally flawed CRT, may each of us resolve, as long as we breathe, to fight for an America that stands for justice, truth, and the unique value of every single human being who deserves to be judged on his or her own merits, not their ethnicity or complexion.
Dr. Richard Land, BA (magna cum laude), Princeton; D.Phil. Oxford; and Th.M., New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, was president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (1988-2013) and has served since 2013 as president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC. Dr. Land has been teaching, writing, and speaking on moral and ethical issues for the last half century in addition to pastoring several churches. He is the author of The Divided States of America, Imagine! A God Blessed America, Real Homeland Security, For Faith & Family and Send a Message to Mickey.