The first step in refuting the error in CRT is to understand it. Here’s where to start.
I once saw a social media post making fun of people opposed to Critical Race Theory (CRT). It read, “I don’t know what Critical Race Theory is, but I’m against it.”
The truth of the matter is that CRT is difficult to sum up, and so it has been hard for most people to understand what it says and doesn’t say. Parents, educators, politicians and the American Public found themselves hearing ideas without having the resources to evaluate their truth or even their true meaning. Buzzwords and inflammatory language substituted for information.
As a homeschool father, teacher and student of philosophy, I thought it would be important to get a handle on what this theory was about. Even more importantly, I am the adoptive father of 4 children, two of whom are Black.
While I found some answers to my questions about CRT in various places, by far the most helpful resource has been a recent book by philosophy professor Edward Feser: All One in Christ: A Catholic Critique of Racism and Critical Race Theory. I highly recommend that all Catholic parents, educators, pastors — basically, anyone who is Catholic — read this book.
I was already inclined to read it because of the author. I had studied part of Feser’s book Five Proofs for the Existence of God as part of my Master’s program, but I went back to it at the end of last year to read it in its entirety. I was happily impressed with Feser’s scholarship and logic. So, when I heard that he had written a book about CRT, I expected nothing but excellence.
I am told by my friar friends in Newark that a longtime friend and neighbor has recently turned into a fanatic and critic of the Church because of some YouTube videos he has seen. While enjoying the fellowship, company and charity of the friars, he has not hesitated to accuse the Church of being a force and source of racism in the world. Even after a brief interaction with this neighbor myself, I could see the shift in his perspective.
Thankfully, Feser begins the book with an examination of the history and beginning of racism during the age of exploration and the enslavement of the races discovered in newly-found regions of the world. The author quotes at length from Church documents condemning racism at the time. While some Catholics may have been racist, it is clear that the Church has vehemently condemned racism since its beginning.
Only after explaining racism and documenting the Catholic Church’s solid stance against it, Feser explains CRT. He quotes at length from CRT authors so the reader can see for himself what it is and the methods it proposes.
The basic idea is that racism is intrinsic to humanity, especially white people. Just as communism posits intrinsic struggle between the classes, so CRT posits intrinsic struggle between the races. (Some critical race theorists are explicit about their communist inspirations.) Any time there is inequality between the races, there must be racism. White people have to admit that they are racist — if they do not, that is only because they are blind to their own racism.
The actions to be taken? Conscious antiracist discrimination. Mere liberalism and equality are insufficient. A race-neutral society is not anti-racist enough and may be the most threatening racist movement. Again, like a good scholar, Feser quotes at length from the sources themselves.
After explaining the tenets of CRT, Feser identifies the many, many logical fallacies in their arguments (if you can call them arguments). Without even addressing the incompatibility between CRT and Catholicism yet, Feser assumes the position of a scholar of philosophy to evaluate the ideas using logic and common sense. Needless to say, CRT falls far short. It is like the theory of someone who is paranoid that everyone is paying attention to his every action.
“But no one is paying attention to you. Look around; no one is even looking at you.”
“But that is exactly what they would do if they didn’t want me to know they were paying attention to me,” the paranoid man would reply. There is no way to prove it, and there is no way to prove it wrong.
Feser also explains social scientific problems with CRT. Their claims about current inequalities being the result of racism alone don’t hold up to available scholarship or history, and they don’t take into account other factors and social forces in the world.
Only then does Feser expose how diametrically opposed CRT is to Catholicism. Drawing parallels between CRT and both Nazism and gnosticism, Feser makes clear that CRT espouses a worldview of hatred and division. Catholicism condemns all “demonization of any race as inherently oppressive,” but instead invites all men to solidarity, mutual respect, forgiveness, mercy and love. Catholics must oppose CRT “not in spite of being opposed to racism, but precisely because they are opposed to it.”
The first step in opposing CRT is to understand it, and I highly recommend Feser’s important book.
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