The conflict over teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) in America’s schools – both public and parochial – is rising. At the heart of this clash are three versions of the history of racism in the United States.
The Catholic View
David G. Bonagura nicely expresses the Catholic vision in a recent article in The Catholic Thing.
He lists four sharp weapons regarding the Church’s treatment of the races. First, ‘[W]e are all made, no matter how we look, in the image and likeness of God,” see Genesis, Chapter 1. The following two chapters of Genesis discuss man’s common physical nature. ‘We all come from the same earth, and are destined to return to it.” He finds the third weapon in Our Lord’s Parable of the Good Samaritan. ‘Serving our neighbor means serving those of other races.” Saint Paul provides the fourth in Chapter twelve of the First Letter to the Corinthians, where he compares the Church to the body of Christ. ‘And if one member suffer anything, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.”
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Mr. Bonagura concludes beautifully. “In other words, the Church offers a vision of unity across races and cultures that terminates in eternal union with God.”
The American View
The conventional American view is what most students, at least until recently, learned in their history classes. It falls far short of the Catholic vision. People of goodwill, it argues, can achieve these goals through civic virtue. The specifics of religion are vague and ambiguous.
However, the American vision does contain certain truths, especially regarding equal dignity for all people. – that allows it to co-exist with the Catholic ideal.
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This view proposed an ongoing process of working together to better society and respecting others. Each successive generation is expected to carry this narrative forward. It stresses the shared fruits of cooperation and prosperity.
Critical Race Theory
The third view, that of Critical Race Theory, actively repudiates Catholic teaching and American ideals.
This view traces its roots to the social revolution of the sixties. CRT argues that America was founded on racism. In its view, the founders – all white men – deliberately set up social and legal systems designed to oppress all who were not white and male. Any sense of movement toward a just society is an illusion created by the oppressors to keep everybody docile and content.
Social harmony is the last thing that the proponents of CRT desire. Their visions, goals and desires center around division. They believe a better world can be achieved through their strange and ill-defined combination of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud.
Ironically, the man at the center of the battle is President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. The irony exists on many levels. He is a 78-year old white man who expresses pride in his working-class roots. Yet his 2020 campaign and policies as president abandon men like the father for whom he expresses such admiration. Having entered the Senate in 1973, he is a man of the established order, yet now as chief, he allies himself with those who want to demolish it. For decades, he was a “go along-get along guy” in the U.S. Senate, which seated its first black senator in 1870, Sen. Hiram Rhodes Revels (R-Miss.). The crowning irony is that he claims to be a “devout Catholic” while he works to overturn what little remains of Catholic order in society.
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On the first day of his presidency, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985. Its goal is encased in a rather ponderous title, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”
“Equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy, and our diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths,” it begins. “But for too many, the American Dream remains out of reach. Entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies, and in our public and private institutions, have often denied that equal opportunity to individuals and communities…. It is therefore the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. Affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our Government.”
Exactly who are those “people of color and others?” The list in section two is familiar – “Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”
Echoes from the Department of Education
The Education Department jumped on this policy with meteoric speed. Only three months later, the educrats churned out a proposed rule titled “Proposed Priorities-American History and Civics Education.”
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Defenders might argue that the words “Critical Race Theory” appear nowhere in the rule’s text. They are correct since the phrase has become a lightning rod that attracts the attention of potential opponents. However, it cites “the New York Times’ landmark ‘1619 Project’ and the work of “scholar Ibram X. Kendi.” The 1619 Project exudes CRT, and Dr. Kendi’s book, How to Be an Antiracist, popularizes it.
Thus the order’s list of “priorities” is written in the language of CRT so familiar to those who fight it.
(a) Take into account systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history;
(b) Incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives and perspectives on the experience of individuals with disabilities;
(c) Encourage students to critically analyze the diverse perspectives of historical and contemporary media and its impacts;
(d) Support the creation of learning environments that validate and reflect the diversity, identities, and experiences of all students; and
(e) Contribute to inclusive, supportive, and identity-safe learning environments.
One of Satan’s great deceptions is that good can compromise with evil. Critical Race Theory is a direct attack on both the Catholic vision of society and that set of civic virtues loosely known as American. To preserve whatever shreds of Western Catholic culture remain, responsible Americans must reject Critical Race Theory unequivocally, whenever and however it appears.
Image Credit: (CC BY-SA 2.0) Gage Skidmore