In 1973 the Black legal scholar Derrick Bell published a thousand-page book called “Race, Racism and American Law.” It was a study of how the law failed to address racism, not just regarding Blacks, but Asians and other immigrants. Bell proposed innovative teaching techniques to challenge the convention that the law was in any way colorblind. The book wasn’t heavily reviewed. One reviewer in a scholarly journal even asked: “how much in demand (or how valuable) is a course dealing solely with racism, especially in the seeming ebb tide of student activism?”
If only he knew. Bell had given birth to what would be called critical race theory, which finds the civil rights achievements of the 1960s insufficient. Racism is too embedded in politics, law and culture to be countered only institutionally, and there are no such things as neutral laws or neutral perspectives. They’re all defined by the person’s point of view, itself defined by race. In other words, race and perspective are impossible to separate from how law is meted out, how history is taught, how literature is read—or whether a banker decides to award a loan to a client or how a jury judges a defendant.
Those are big assumptions. They’re not uncontroversial. Just because the driving aim addresses a fundamental injustice doesn’t make the method inherently virtuous, or right. There is something confining, deterministic, in a premise that judges a white person incapable of a certain understanding or fairness just because that person is white. It’s a bit like Calvinistic dogma that if you’re not among the chosen ones, your soul is doomed no matter what you do. Predeterminism of the sort just doesn’t jive with a democratic character jacked up on free will and individualism.
Yet that’s one of the tenets of critical race theory. The theory’s defenders often enough consider their assumptions self-evident, bypassing the need to prove their case with more than outrage or sanctimony. But there’s also something liberating about it when it basically says: let’s stop kidding ourselves by pretending that race isn’t as defining a factor as it is, especially when whites are the first to say it isn’t, the first to cry “race card!” when they haven’t experienced an iota of the racism people of color or immigrants routinely do. Sometimes the assumptions need no more proof than the day’s news stories, from George Floyd to rigged valedictorian tabulations to attacks on the military’s push for diversity. And that’s before wading into social mierda’s sewers. The Declaration’s truths aren’t the only self-evident game in town.
Bell was looking at his own mass of headlines when he proposed his new method. Two seminal events then turned critical race theory into a movement.
In 1981, Harvard law School offered a course that took its title from that of Bell’s book. But the professor was white. Students protested. They wanted a Black professor. The law school refused. Students informally launched a course of their own, inviting Black scholars to lecture. One of those students and two of the guest lecturers, Charles R. Lawrence, Richard Delgado and Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, would go on in 1993 to write the first book that gave critical race theory its name (“Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, And The First Amendment”). The book would be greatly influential and I think justifiably controversial in one of the theory’s major achievements: all those hate-speech laws you see around the country are its direct result.
The book opened the way to making words, not just actions, objectionable under the First Amendment. That, too, is the fruit of critical race theory. The same year of “Words That Wound” Catharine MacKinnon published “Only Words,” at heart an attack on the First Amendment as a shield for porn, which MacKinnon equated with actual violence and the subjugation of women. None of these theories bear accepting at face value. I personally find them more offensive to the First Amendment than the other way around.
Carlin Romano’s famous review of MacKinnon’s book, impossible to imagine in a post-MeToo era, made the point in The Nation: “Suppose I decide to rape Catharine MacKinnon before reviewing her book. Because I’m uncertain whether she understands the difference between being raped and binge exposed to pornography, I consider it required research for my critique of her manifesto that pornography equals rape and should be banned. I plot and strategize, but at the last minute, I chicken out. People simply won’t understand.” The review gets only more savage after that. MacKinnon called it “a public rape,” prompting Romano to reply, I think correctly: “She’s gone from saying pornography is rape to saying book reviewing is rape. Catharine MacKinnon’s mind is one long slippery slope.” But that’s what the marketplace of ideas is about.
In popular culture, there was a connection between critical race theory and Spike Lee’s absurd belief the year of “Only Words” that only Blacks should make movies about Blacks. He’d objected to Norman Jewison directing “Malcolm X.” Lee was an outlier then. He’s conventional now. We see his thinking in the more recent wave of cancel-crazy opposition to “cultural appropriation,” as if whites couldn’t possibly write truthfully about other races (or portray them in movies or the stage), as if men couldn’t possibly write about women (sorry Flaubert: Madame Bovary repudiates you), as if art were gender and racially and ethnically coded. I don’t know of a definition of art that is more contrary to art. There’s also an alarming and increasingly common connection between “Only Words”’ fallout and college campus attacks on the First Amendment in the name of protecting or respecting minorities.
Of course it’s easy to cherry-pick the theory’s extremists to demolish it. It’s also dishonest to base the analysis on its extremes, or to dismiss it–let alone repress it–because of them.
The other event that brought the theory to the streets was the O.J. Simpson trial in 1994 and 1995. As Jeffrey Rosen, a legal scholar, wrote at the time of Simpson’s attorney Johnnie Cochran, his “strategy in the courtroom might be best described as applied critical race theory.” Blacks wouldn’t convict Simpson–not because he wasn’t guilty, but because the system was stacked against him. Cochran’s thinking may have been as flawed as MacKinnon’s. It proved obviously persuasive to the jury of Simpson’s peers. Explode that to a national scale of how Blacks may see whites and vice versa, and you begin to see the reach of critical race theory in our lives.
But it’s hardly just theory. It’s simply impossible to look at the more abject record of American law and not see the rank racism critical race theory points toward in decisions such as Dred Scott (Blacks couldn’t be citizens), Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal), Korematsu v. United States (nothing wrong with sending Jap-Americans to concentration camps) and the more recent decision upholding the Muslim ban during the Trump years. (Yes, it was a Muslim ban even by the most restrictive interpretations.)
This isn’t cherry-picking anymore. These decisions were the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of American law. Just because they’ve been repealed (Korematsu was repealed in the very same breath as its Islamophobic twin was ratified) doesn’t remove them from what still makes us what we are. It doesn’t remove what the legal scholar Jamal Greene called the “reasonable possibility” that such decisions weren’t just products of individual racists on the court, but of reasoning thought sound at the time because the Constitution enables racism. That Constitution is still with us. And that, in a nutshell, is critical race theory. All sanctimony and outrage aside, that nut is hard to disprove as a “left-wing myth.”
Considering that at the time of the O.J. Simpson trial Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and, a year later, Fox News were reducing all politics to ideology, it’s a wonder the theory took another quarter century to become the latest fodder in the culture wars. The delay is telling, and one of the many ironies giving the lie to the seriousness of this new fear over critical theory. The theory grew, thrived and itself became embedded in academic, legal and social perspectives even as Reagan, Bushes and Trump presidencies and the Scalia-Roberts-Barrett reaction in law attempted to make America wasp again. More to the point, the theory was in the scope of liberal journals like The Nation, the New Republic and Dissent and of critics, among them Henry Louis Gates Jr., Jeffrey Rosen, Ronald Dworkin (taking on critical legal studies, the race theory’s sibling) and others, long before conservatives noticed it.
Only now, running out of conspiracy theories to match their IQAnon, Republican politicians have discovered critical race theory as the next worst thing to endanger American civilization. Their rage seems to have been instigated by a few paragraphs in the monumental New York Times 1619 Project, those parts that placed slavery much deeper in the founders’ liturgy than these present-day Trumpist paragons of diversity and love for their colored brothers and sisters are comfortable with.
After the failed attempt of Trump’s 1776 Commission to transform American history into Herman Wouk-washed hagiography, these defenders of the American faith are passing laws in several states to ban the teaching of critical race theory without understanding the first thing about it, calling it “indoctrination” and cherry-picking their way through a few dumb examples. Florida just enacted one such sanitizing bull through a Department of Education rule, turning American history into a Disney ride through Happyland. Nothing less should be expected from a state that prefers to whitewash the word slavery in its civic standards.
There’s no question that like any other theory, critical race has its pros and cons. It’s fascinating and insightful in many ways, and it’s debatable and controversial in others. But that’s what theories are for. Their evolution in the free spirit of academic and cultural freedom allows them to be challenged and refined, to grow or wither. The last thing they need is political hijacking. That’s what the Soviet Union did to its academies. That’s what North Korea still does. And that is what our more Trumpist legislatures and education departments are doing—proudly, self-righteously and vengefully.
So here’s the great irony: we’ve gone from a theory that considers racism inseparable from laws and institutions in American life to the actual enactment of rules and laws that forbid the teaching or consideration of racism as inseparable from American life. Put another way: if there ever was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that critical race theory is reality–that American institutions such as our legislatures and courts are sick to the core with racism–Trumpist Republicans are providing us that proof in spades. They are elevating critical race theory from theory to fact, and from controversy to necessity.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.
Rick G says
Excellent piece Pierre. This could be fodder for a great class room discussion if not for the Governor’s rancid law. Its good to have a reporter/writer who can make us think. At least those with an open mind.
You must of read a different article than I did.
Critical race theory is a Marxist dogma. No different from the Red Guard used in China. And yes it’s been around for 50 years, the Marxist Communist have been trying every way to take this country and they’ve done it by taking our education system. CRT is a cancer and must be removed from this country or we will all be dead no matter what color you are.
The dude says
What in CRT is Marxist?
Pierre Tristam says
Dude, surely you know by now: if it doesn’t fit the prevailing Republican theology of the moment (currently the Book of Trump, otherwise known as Deuteronomy 2.0) it’s Marxist or socialist or gay or Mohammedan or BLM or Clinton emails or Benghazi or, as a Mensa member had it above, Saul Alinksy, etc. usually it’s a salad of all combined. We supposedly have color TV, but some channels are fanatically monochrome. You can guess which ones, making any discussion of anything not ideologically dumbed down difficult for most who tune in: Fox is the opium of the puerile.
Pierre, I would have to venture a guess that CNN and MSNBC slants the facts to what you want to hear as well as why GOPers watch FOX. Now tell me, who just prints the truths and the facts ? Anything else is just opinion. I don’t watch any of the cable news on either side because I just want facts and form my own opinion. So who prints just the news sans opinion ? If you exclusively watch “blue ” news then you lean blue. Same goes for “red”.
MikeM your comment is spot on! There must be a reason why Fox News is number one whereas CNN and MSNBC are tanking.
The dude says
I’m just asking them to actually articulate what, specifically, is it that is “Marxist” about it…
I mean clearly they studied and scrutinized it, to the point of holding very strong opinions about it. If we knew what, exactly, offends them so… maybe we could directly address those issues.
The dude says
I guess Donald isn’t going to share with us his specific objections to CRT or tell us how it’s “Marxist”…
It’s almost as if he hasn’t actually bothered to inform himself what CRT actually is, and instead is just here mindlessly repeating Faux News dogma verbatim…
“They can teach LIES like…
Columbus discovered America
Slave owners were kind
Native Americans were the aggressors
America was founded on Christian principles
Jesus was white
…but not the TRUTH about how American racism has shaped public policy”
Ray W. says
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” FDR
Joseph Chisholm says
Thank you Donald,well said. Not surprising that Pierre would defend it since he has never met a communist he didn’t like.
Billy C says
Interesting take. However, for those of us who see that racism is inculcate in every facet of American life you commenting on Red China and Marxist Communism is like a spousal abuser criticizing the other couples in the neighborhood and not looking at his own relationship. History has to be taught with an eye towards truth. CRT may be able to get the dominant class in this country, to understand how racism and bigotry are welded to our laws, mores and values and faux-patriotism. By at least acknowledging these things exist we can make this nation a fairer, better place.
Richard Gardner says
Sorry Donald but have you even read the Communist Manifesto? The only thing Marx and Engels are doing is pointing out the value of labor… which is multi racial. It appears you could have used a better overall education.
Agree Richard . Both Donald and Joseph could use some additional time to educate themselves. They have no clue. But they open their mouths anyway .
“Put another way: if there ever was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that critical race theory is reality–that American institutions such as our legislatures and courts are sick to the core with racism–”. True, the House and the Senate are…Democratic, which of course, is “sick to the core with racism”.
This country has became more divided since 2008. The “great uniter is the great divider”, and his protege, is accelerating this vision.
Ray W. says
What an interesting set of ideas presented by jake, Saboath and Soldierofgod! Each sprinkles throughout their submissions strong hints of an oppositional-defiant disorder, perhaps best described by a joke I often invoked when one of my sons were fairly young. Each Monday night, I would mention that it was Robert’s turn to take out the trash (Brandon had Thursdays). Robert would immediately jump up and walk towards the trash can and recycle bin in the garage. One or another of our dogs would always be in his path and he would stop to pet the dog. Most of the time, he would then sit back down. The joke was that I said “take out the trash” and Robert heard “pet the dog.” All people have the capacity to link opposing ideas. The word for it is antonym. All people have the capacity for defiance. Indeed, in many situations, both of these are healthy capacities. The problem occurs when people are told one thing and they hear another thing, thereby muddling the issue. This problem is seldom healthy for both society and for those suffering from its curse.
For example, somehow, jake places great emphasis on his acceptance of a belief that President Barack Obama was a great divider. After all, it takes at least two sides to change society, to-wit: those who seek change and those who oppose change. This is at the core of our constitutional form of government, based on checks and balances to any idea proposed by our factional political parties. jake seems completely unaware of a logical philosophy described in Hegel’s dialectical trilogy of Hypothesis, Antithesis and Synthesis. Hegel argued that, on a societal level, every Hypothesis leveled by any one faction (Democrats?) will automatically trigger an opposing view, i.e., Antithesis, by another faction (Republicans?). The friction between those supporting the Hypothesis and those believing in the Antithesis causes societal change, or Synthesis, which is sometimes gradual and sometimes cataclysmic. In summary, all someone has to do is mention CRT and jake will forevermore automatically associate President Obama as the polestar of what is wrong with CRT. jake is being told to take out the trash and he is hearing pet the dog and he just can’t help himself, not realizing that election of President Obama was never the hypothesis behind CRT and that jake is the one who presents as the antithesis to CRT and may very well present as a danger to society, i.e., as a divider himself, via muddled thinking.
Saboath hears CRT and automatically links it to Saul Alinsky and thinks in terms of a race war. Helter Skelter at its core, though Saboath probably cannot bring himself to link his thoughts to Charles Manson, who espoused the idea that if he and his followers killed enough white people and strategically made it look as if blacks were the killers, America would engage in a cleansing race war. Different dog. Same presentation of himself as a possible danger to society, via muddled thinking.
Soldierofgod hears CRT and automatically links it to educators, including parents, who should, in his opinion, be removed from their positions if they teach CRT. Is Soldierofgod actually advocating making children wards of the state if their parents teach CRT? Will he require children to testify against their parents in court so that they can be forcefully removed from the influence of their parents? Again, different dog. Same presentation of himself as a possible danger to society, via muddled thinking.
NPA VOTER says
Standing ovation. Sadly, those who need to read (and comprehend) what you wrote, will go back to ironing and re-hanging their “you-know-who” 2024 flags.
Saul Alinsky’s 12 Rules for Radicals………… You like them , right ? You can’t wait until America goes to War over race, right ?
You would love to see that, right ? Well, keep spreading your garbage and your dreams just might come true .
“Who the Hell Is Saul Alinsky?”
Edith Campins says
You obviously have never read them.
“Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals is a 1971 book by community activist and writer Saul D. Alinsky about how to successfully run a movement for change. It was the last book written by Alinsky, and it was published shortly before his death in 1972. His goal was to create a guide for future community organizers, to use in uniting low-income communities, or “Have-Nots”, in order for them to gain by any means necessary social, political, legal, and economic power.
Here is the complete list from Alinsky.
RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”
RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”
RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.”
RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
Note everyone on here that is pushing for CRT. These are the true racists in America. Anyone that teaches ” children” to judge their abilities only by their skin color and not the character or intelligence should be removed from the position. But, the parents of America are already doing that and you can see even the producer of this misinformation is part of the growing problem. Where a editor who is being paid to push radical teachings can’t even see the ignorance in the article they write or push.
Reminds me of an old Calvinist quote.
“We are the pure and chosen few and all the rest are damned, there’s room enough in Hell for you, we don’t want Heaven crammed”
Let’s start from the beginning Pierre, Critical Theory was started at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt Germany. It was a philosophical and sociological movement that spread across many universities around the world. Critical Theory’s aim was do develop MARXIST studies. After being thrown out of Germany, they set up shop in a nice Ivy league school in New York city at Columbia University. It’s main purpose was to help overcome the social structures through which people are dominated and oppressed.(sound familiar) Capitalist’s system
During the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war, Critical Legal theory is created. Critical legal studies (CLS) is a theory which states that the law is necessarily intertwined with social issues, particularly stating that the law has inherent social biases( sound familiar) Law
Critical Race Theory and BLM- Many of the people pushing CRT are self proclaimed Marxist. The words of BLM co founder Patrisse Cullors ” I am a trained Marxist” CRT Robin DIAngelo writes in here book White Fragility
“White supremacy is a descriptive and useful term to capture the all-encompassing centrality and assumed superiority of people defined and perceived as white and the practices based on this assumption.” sounds a little racist to me. Let’s not forget Ibram X. Kendi and “How to be a antiracist” any system that ends with different outcomes must be racist. SO, limiting the number Asians admissions to Harvard is racist. Say it’s not so! (RACE)
Three different names with the same expressed goal. divide the people. This time it’s different, many parents were taught this ideology and are ok with it. The goals of the 1930s are being achieved.
What I find hard to believe is that ONLY some whites are called out for racism (Trump for Pierre) Yet these racist text messages come out from the President of the United states son and no outrage from anybody. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9661781/Hunter-Biden-used-n-word-multiple-times-casual-conversation-text-messages-show.html
Donald k says
Excellent description. And the end goal of BLM CRT is the overthrow of capitalism. But first they must DEFUND POLICE.
It’s just amazing to me as to how many blind people are among us.
Florida is becoming more and more like N.Korea. It is like some weird version of a dictatorship I feel bad for the children that live there.
Unvarnished Truth says
As a black man, I have never heard of CRT until recently. Does “racism” exist? Yes. Is everyone white “racist”? Hell no. I know too many of them. Do I experience “racism”? Yes. Does everything that negatively affects my life is the result of “racism”? No. Has “racism” stifled my “opportunities”? Maybe. Have I “Stifled” it more than any “racist white ever could”? Hell yeah.
I take issue with people having “pity” on me because they think I am beneath them because of my skin. I don’t want your fucking charity, I just want an opportunity to prove my worth to society based on my skill, knowledge, and character.
We are not pets to be “patted on the head” and treated like mentally challenged children and I HATE the fact that this “woke” bullshit is making it fashionable.
Where are these laws and rules coming from? Who is writing them? It is not our legislators or our governor. Many conservative states are doing the same thing right now. They are taking marching orders from ???? These things are being passed from someone wine/some group that is not even elected and we just blindly follow or defend whatever we are given. Want to be a successful politician? Just be a bobble head and say yes to whatever the party says. No thinking no morals involved. It goes for both sides. Something evil this way comes.
Why does this “theory” have to be taught in elementary and high school on young impressionable minds ? Teach it in college if you must. To me if younger minds are taught this then it smells of indoctrination. Students below college level should be taught reading, writing, arithmetic, and historical facts.
@FlaglerLive (Pierre Tristam)
Once again you’ve published a learned and nuanced commentary on a topic of the moment.
As for the comments, there is the usual appreciation you deserve.
And then there is the usual graffiti: The mindless exclamations of socialist this, and communist that, are the typically weird mixed metaphors and non-sequitur word salad that’s the favorite dish of elderly (literally) remnants of the John Birch Society, a.k.a., duh “traditional” base of the Republican party.
Additionally, elderly, middle-aged, and younger, kooks mutter incoherently from their ominously obscure (they suppose) nom de guerre about coming storms, wars, etc. They’re the gun nuts, the followers of bestsellers from the book section at Walmart about end time prophecy, and too, the latest iteration of the Catholic inquisition, prosperity Christianity, and assorted MLM scams that prey on anyone they can snare. As they frequently mention themselves, they’re a significant portion of local readers. Sad – and alarming too.
And so it goes.
Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat.
— John Morley
Ray W. says
Pogo’s reference to MLM (multilevel marketing) schemes reminds me of my wife telling of being approached in a parking lot by a promoter of the latest superfruit of the year, acai juice. She was curious but had turned the person down. Having read Guns, Germs and Steel, I commented that only so many fruits can be cultivated on a large enough scale to justify the phrase superfruit of the year and we had probably long ago run out of varieties of fruits to justify defining a new one each year. Later, I saw a documentary on the acai berry and the difficulty of its cultivation; needing shade it flourished wild among other flora, but did not easily survive on its own. The promotion of its juice as a superfruit had upset a regional economy because the increasing level of export of the juice made it too expensive for the locals to buy; it was no longer considered a healthy addition as a staple to the region’s diet. MLM schemes, like politics, requires a polished delivery and a plausible, though not necessarily accurate or truthful, message to succeed, but the message is always designed to tempt other people to give someone something he or she wants. Indeed, Trump’s birthday is tomorrow and his sons recently sent out a mass message asking supporters to augment their previous support by donating $250 for his birthday, with the option of making the $250 donation a recurring monthly event. MLM at its best. I wonder how many millions will be donated?
Mr. Tristam’s opinion piece seems to have struck a nerve among the warmongers, harbingers of doom, or severely disaffected among us. Pogo refers to a portion of them as being incoherent kooks, and I am reminded of Hillary’s now-famous gaffe of calling them “deplorables.” I think Hillary erred in using that term, in that she may better have used the term “uneducable” to describe a certain portion of Trump’s followers. I have long pondered the human capacity to engage in idolatry, starting with an incident during my sophomore year at Seabreeze High School. A Tampa-area high school rock and roll band, complete with a lead singer who played an electric guitar, performed in the school auditorium. I sat next to a young woman whom I had known casually for years, as her father was my father’s law partner, though she was two years older. Our normal conversation was suddenly interrupted when the band began its first song and my friend erupted from her seat, screaming and moving to the music in a manner reminiscent of the now-famous TV clip of female Beetles fans swooning at an airport as the band disembarked for its first American tour. Amazed at the emotional transformation of someone I thought I knew fairly well, I knew immediately that I was not capable of that level of response. After all, it was only a band covering music from other bands and I just wasn’t cut out to worship strangers. Admire, respect, emulate, learn from, study, listen to, all of these intellectual or emotional states I could accomplish, but not worship. I do not particularly enjoy golf, though I am amazed to watch the skills on display and I occasionally spend time watching tour events. As far as the human capacity for intensity, racing motorcycles was it for me. Even trial work, while satisfying, never approached the focus gained by drifting a rear tire out of a corner WFO with the front wheel slightly in the air at 80-90 mph while inches away from another rider. I still find myself clenching my fists while watching the final laps of a close motorcycle race.
I have long known that some, and perhaps many, people are capable of devoting themselves to someone or something that does not deserve their devotion. Unrequited love is a very old theme in literature. I have reason to believe that a significant portion of our voting public greatly desires and will happily worship anyone who is skilled enough to present a political platform with the aplomb of a MLM salesperson. But to fantasize about a coming civil war as if it would be a good thing? That I cannot do. I suspect some of our founding fathers understood this. For example, in Federalist Paper #58, Madison addressed the human capacity to see partial truths. Federalist Paper #58 addresses an objection to a section of the proposed Constitution that describes expansion of the number of members in the House of Representatives relative to an increase in population. While today this might seem a minor point to argue, Madison obviously was aware of the critique’s claim that the proposed Constitution would not permit increasing the number of representatives over time and he made the effort to oppose the critique. He wrote: “It has been admitted, that this objection, if well supported, would have great weight. The following observations will show that, like most other objections against the Constitution, it can only proceed from a partial view of the subject, or from a jealousy which discolors or disfigures every object which is beheld.”
Is Madison correct in characterizing those who opposed adoption of the proposed Constitution as capable of looking under every possible rock for any possible argument in their effort to oppose change to the existing order of government? Were opponents to the proposed Constitution proceeding from a partial view of the subject or jealous to the point of discoloring or disfiguring every facet of the proposed Constitution? In context, the Articles of Confederation did not create a federal executive or judiciary, only a federal legislature. The proposed Constitution created all three branches. Does the idea of a strong state government and a weak federal government resonate in the Trump camp? Does Madison’s description of the human capacity to see the world through a distorted lens portend today’s Trump supporters? Nothing about the 2020 presidential election justifies a civil war, yet the fantasy of one seems to grow in scope to encompass any argument, however slight, that could be used to seek reinstatement of a losing president. The more things change, the more they stay the same. There’s a sucker born every minute, and a $250 donation seems to be amount that Trump’s sons have settled on as close to but just below the sucker threshold. Unrequited love, indeed!
I would only add this to your excellent remarks:
The impotent rage of people who embarrass themselves and blame you for causing others to notice what they’ve said and/or done, all too often, never cools or dies. It’s a kind of hell they could leave whenever they choose. They choose hell. trump (and the slaves who row his garbage barge on the lake of fire) are a perfect example. No? Pure spite, is there anything sadder and destructive?
Bill C says
Although I applaud your statement that “American institutions such as our legislatures and courts are sick to the core with racism”, I am puzzled by your statement that “There is something confining, deterministic, in a premise that judges a white person incapable of a certain understanding or fairness just because that person is white.” Whites can sympathize, empathize, relate to their own experience of pain and rejection, but can never know the hurt caused by a history, legacy and lifetime of discrimination.
Bill C says
PS That is simply because the color of their skin.
Hello Bill, I appreciate your comment here because it probes right at the heart of a central question raised by CRT–it seems to me, only from knowing just a very little about CRT, and probably more from this single article by Pierre Tristam than from anywhere else. The question is: to what degree can a white person “understand” racism (by “racism” here I mean anti-Black and/or white supremacist racism, not what some call “racism,” by which they mean any kind of race-based prejudice or hostility), and to what degree can a white person be “fair” in judgements and decisions bearing on any matter affecting multiracial people in this deeply interconnected world patterned deeply with/in/through racism? I think that maybe what Tristam means to get at in the sentence you quoted beginning “There is something confining…” is that for newcomers to this theory who have not had a chance to more deeply explore and understand it before reacting to it, it may seem just deterministic, just saying that if you’re white you can never not be a racist (without yet exactly or fully explaining or understanding what this “being a racist” really means). I think your point that “Whites… can never know the hurt” is an excellent follow-up to this. Why? Because this is maybe the actual precise limit of “understanding” that is meant ultimately by CRT (I am guessing this, since I have not studied CRT–but I’m sharing here what I’m guessing because this helps me, at least, to try to understand this more precisely and, it seems to me, more helpfully for seeing a theory that can help me, as a white person, join in dismantling racism). That is, I as a white person who wishes to help dismantle racism, would do well to remember that I will “never know the hurt caused by a history, legacy, and lifetime of discrimination.” And yet, I do also need to remember that I am yet capable, even as a white person–especially as a white person, even, for I definitely need to change myself if I am to help dismantle racism!–I am capable of gaining greater understanding and learning how to act in my life (in all spheres) with greater fairness, compassion, empathy, and commitment to transformation (towards eliminating racism). Through listening to others, through study, through contemplation, and through acting as well as I can on the basis of what I learn, I am capable of learning how to help undo racism and transform myself and my society into a post-racist world.
So, I think your corrective to Tristam’s sentence is literally right–there IS a real limit on white people’s capacity to understand and be fair in this world so long as racism persists. But/And I also think Tristam’s underlying point (if I am reading this accurately as being that it’s important to recognize white people can indeed gain understanding and learn to act with fairness–though, I would add, perhaps there can be no full “fairness” until racism, and other injustice, is fully over) is helpful, too. Maybe he could have expressed this key part more precisely or effectively. Your comment helps me to try to see this more carefully, and helpfully.
small edit I want to make to what I wrote above:
“…would do well to remember that I will ‘never know the hurt caused by a history, legacy and lifetime of [anti-Black and/or white supremacist] discrimination.’ [Bracketed part added to be super clear on what kind of discrimination I believe you, Bill C, were referring to.]…”
It’s tragic the Florida Board of Education is falling in line with ideological censorship. If anything, we should be broadening the public-school curriculum so students become acquainted with both capitalism and Marxism, democratic socialism, mixed economies, imperialism, apartheid, academic freedom, feminism, anarchy, totalitarianism, globalism, etc. etc.
Gina Weiss says
I understand where you are coming from but in order to teach those curriculums the students need to learn reading, math and writing skills ,lets take a look at where the US stands in reading and math scores as compared to the other industrial countries. We have failed inner city school systems. According to the results of an international exam given to teenagers in 79 countries, the US ranked 9th in reading and 31st in math literacy.
Gina Weiss says
Hello Jake, Soldierofgod, Saboath, Donald, and Joseph: Do you all see what’s happening here, all of you are making comments of JUST WHAT Ray, Pogo, and Pierre want to here, do not allow them to bait you. Rather let them define EQUALITY vs EQUITY, RACISM vs CAPITALISM, and what is their definition of WHITE PRIVILEGE , and WHITE PRIVILEGED MALE do these words only pertain to Conservatives and Republicans because I do know many Democrats and liberals who fit those words quite well, lets be fair in our calling out of people. POGO :are all the elderly, mid-age and younger Christian gun nut book section of Walmart kooks privileged whites? That’s quite an assumption! Did someone’s comment above hit a nerve??? Unvarnished Truth’s comment above has gone unnoticed, why is that?
Bill C says
Try reading “Caste: the Origins of our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson, available at the library. And why all the SHOUTING?
Gina Weiss says
HELLO Bill C: Question: Are you anti-capitalist?
Bill C says
This is not about using the word “Marxism” as a ploy to attack CRT. It’s about reconciliation, not division.
Gina Weiss says
Your interpretation to fit your narrative, good luck with your ” Political doubletalk”.
Bill C says
As usual, all you can resort to is factless name calling. Since you didn’t like “Caste” which I doubt you read, try Isabel Wilkerson’s other book “The Warmth of Other Suns” in which she touches on the Ocoee Massacre. PS she’s no Sean Hannity, but she did win the Pulitzer Prize. Oh, let me guess, the liberal elites. Here’s a documentary on the Ocoee Massacre:
Black Agenda Report has an interesting critique of the Caste book.
Gina Weiss says
JLB: BRAVO, may I add did the author of Caste even realize that people in India can move out of their Caste and raise themselves up? Funny how all the “elite 1%” love the book, bunch of FOS people don’t have a clue about the poor working class struggles, don’t get me started I feel some very colorful words coming on! And I wonder if anyone of these people who comment so frivolously on here ever even marched or protested for a cause, I certainly did many many times.
Bill C says
Wow! India as an upwardly mobile society, free of the caste system? Ask a “dalit” what he/she thinks about your viewpoint.
Ray W. says
Thank you, Gina Weiss, for your comment that many Democrats and liberals fit the definition of a white privileged male. A good critique. But, I remain curious about how much money Trump will raise on June 14th, his birthday. Two of his sons are actively trying to raise a lot of money (OPM) as their birthday present to him. How much do you think they will raise?
As an aside, how hard do you think it is to bait someone who posts his or her thoughts before I do? One possible scenario is that Jake, Soldierofgod, Donald and Joseph are dangling their bait, hoping for a response. If I understand your suggestion to them, you went the four to either stop posting comments entirely or for them to post a different kind of comment, which might require them to change their beliefs. Either way seems unlikely to me.
As a second aside, read Unvarnished Truth’s comment again. He implies that he does not want a reply. Rather, he seems to want to share his thoughts with all of us and he is not looking for validation (“charity”) from anyone. I might be wrong in my interpretation.
Gina Weiss says
Hello Ray, I must be perfectly honest, I could not give a rats arse about Trump and I think it’s time we move forward. You’re comment about the fab 4 makes me laugh and I shall explain , why does any disagreement about Pierre’s article turn into a Trump bashing deplorable contest name calling event. let’s face it Pierre lights the fire for discussion which is healthy but also triggers people to react and comment in certain ways, but these are his and some of his readers beliefs , maybe part of the job is to create conflict and disagreement to ignite open discussion but it is not the job of certain people who do comment on here to criticize ones opinions, lifestyle , political or religious beliefs. I also believe that Unvarnished Truth is just about the only one on here who shared his thoughts beautifully. PS the FAB 4 shouldn’t stop posting just be careful with getting baited by those who use identity and race to shame those who don’t agree with them.
Gina Weiss says
Correction: The Fab 5.
Speaking of factual education…between 1882 and 1968 there were 282 lynchings in Florida, 257 of the victims were black and only 25 white. Which tenets of Marxism explain that disparity?