Why Critical Race Theory is a Terrible Idea

From: L. Michael Hall
2021 Neurons #41
July 9, 2021
How Self-Actualization
Can Save Politics #5


In the last blog, I mentioned that “critical race theory” was not only a bad idea, but a terrible idea. I suggested that with the success of the Civil Rights Movement, the left needed a new “racism” to fight so they invented “systemic racism” and critical race theory (CRT).

What’s terrible about CRT is that the have put forward the belief that “racism is everywhere and it is permanent.” Of course, if you believe that, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and you can find it everywhere! If you believe that, then you will also believe that you will always be discriminated against even when there’s no external sign of it— it is still there, hidden, unconscious, and lurking in the hearts of the “racists” who are all around you.

Now, psychologically, this is very unhealthy. Why? Because it is teaching young people to mind-read insult, hostility, and prejudice into every interaction. No wonder so many now see the world as hostile to them and suffer either depression or aggression against “the system.” Two scholars on CRT, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay in Cynical Theories, write:
“The core problems with critical race Theory are that in puts social significance back into racial categories and inflames racism, tends to be purely Theoretical, uses the postmodern knowledge and political principles, is profoundly aggressive, asserts its relevance to all aspects of Social Justice, and —not least—begins from the assumption that racism is both ordinary and permanent, everywhere, and always.” (2020, p. 133)

CRT is a bad idea because it contradicts Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideal of a color-blind society. They refute and object to “color blindness” and demand that we think of people, not in terms of individuals, but group identity. For them, the group or groups you belong to define you. You have a “race identity,” an “economic identity,” a “gender identity,” and on and on— and so CRT doesn’t deal with you as a person, but as a member of a group. This is the foundation of identity politics.

What they don’t seem to understand is the unsanity of identification. This was one of the central themes in Korzybski’s Science and Sanity, if you “identify” in an absolute way, you are doing something unsane. That’s because there is no sameness in the world; everything is different and differs from everything, even itself, at different times. Ultimately it is the core of insanity. Whatever groups you belong to does not define you. You are more than your skin color, ethnic group, religion, gender, etc.

Again, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay speak to this in their new book, Cynical Theories (2020):
“It is bad psychology to tell people who do not believe that they are racist— who may even actively despise racism— that there is nothing they can do to stop themselves from being racist— and then ask them to help you. It is even less helpful to tell them that even their own good intentions are proof of their latent racism. Worst of all is to set up double-binds, like telling them if they notice race it is because they are racist, but if they don’t notice race it’s because their privilege affords them the luxury of not noticing race, which is racist.” (p. 134)

This double-find leads to name-calling and mind-reading— two significant cognitive distortions that are as irrational as they produce high levels of misery in people. The CRT strikes me as a theory looking for a problem. Those who affirm it are unthankful, ungrateful for the heros of the real Civil Rights Movement. Many of them severely criticize Martin Luther King. Jr.

It’s as if their success now leaves today’s protesters without anything to protest. So CRT invents a bug-a-boo that can’t be demonstrated to exist or disproved. And if it cannot be falsified, it is certainly not scientific. It is a belief system. But it seems that those who believe in the theory do not care. They are post-modernists and don’t believe that there’s an objective reality anyway. And because that’s another really bad idea, that will be the subject in the next post.