Letter: Critical Race Theory — A Dystopian pathology

Posted 4/29/21

There is a fierce debate sweeping America and our local communities centered on whether America is a systemically racist country. This view is at odds with history and the past 60 …

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Letter: Critical Race Theory — A Dystopian pathology


There is a fierce debate sweeping America and our local communities centered on whether America is a systemically racist country. This view is at odds with history and the past 60 years of progress in civil rights.  

This view is informed by a Marxist ideology which divides people into oppressors and oppressed. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a primary driver of this movement. It is a view which perverts the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, in which all Americans share a common humanity, and the importance not of skin color but the content of one’s character.

America was, and is, far from perfect. In an era of its founding, slavery had been a commonplace human experience since antiquity. Abolition and the emancipation of slaves was a new idea, an American idea. The abolition of slavery and the incorporation of Africa-descended people into the body politic of the United States of America was an unprecedented achievement. It took much time and was far from a smooth process, and there is still much work to be done.

The Founders of our nation, even those who held slaves, realized the horrors of slavery. These Founders, through careful crafting of the Declaration and Constitution insured, as Frederick Douglass maintained, that these documents were not pro-slavery, but in fact were structured to lead to abolition and eventual emancipation.

Today the CRT adherents believe that society is divided into dominant (powerful) and marginalized (powerless) identities, underpinned by invisible systems of white supremacy, male dominance, privilege and other forms of bigotry. CRT questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law. In short, the CRT is a fundamental assault on all the values that has made American great and is very much a Marxist-inspired outlook.

The terms “diversity, equity and inclusion” are tipoffs that one is in the realm of CRT. These three terms sound so nice, so fair and so hopeful. But these three words have a special meaning that portrays a cynical, pessimistic, and divisive view of society and American values. These ideas corrupt the commonality that binds communities together. 

CRT is increasingly infecting school systems across America, and there are indications that this is happening in our local schools. When we see terms such as anti-racism, marginalized, white privilege, white supremacy, colonialization, systemic racism, oppression, dominant populations, implicit bias, diverse identities, culturally sensitive experiential learning, unequal power relations, learning for justice, among other terms, we know that CRT is in the background.

While much of this is well intentioned and may serve to protect individuals from harms of racism and other forms of bias, it divides students into opposing groups that harms both sides by placing them into identities of which they have no control.

Teaching young people to regard America as a country to be hated, and much of its population to be oppressors, does nothing to solve the issues that do confront society. Indoctrinating students to read insult, hostility and prejudice into every interaction is counterproductive at best and at worst inhibits education that students need to become productive citizens. We should be teaching our students to work hard, aim high, respect others and judge all by what they do.  

Michael Byrnes

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.