Being Critical of Critical Race Theory

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Critical Race Theory (CRT) is sweeping through many organizations, schools, and even religious organizations today. However, CRT—its origins, its fruits, and its effects—is contrary to love. As Catholics, we must be critical of Critical Race Theory, as it is contrary to Catholicism and common sense. 

Britannica tells us the origins of Critical Race Theory:

Critical race theory (CRT) was officially organized in 1989, at the first annual Workshop on Critical Race Theory, though its intellectual origins go back much farther, to the 1960s and ’70s. Its immediate precursor was the critical legal studies (CLS) movement, [which is] an offshoot of Marxist-oriented critical theory.

CRT, then, is based on the Marxist-centered Critical Theory, which has at its core the doctrine of deconstruction. Richard Delgado, one of the founders of CRT, defines deconstruction as the “Intellectual approach that targets traditional interpretation of terms, concepts, and practices, showing that they contain unsuspecting meanings or internal contradictions” (Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, 3rd Ed., p. 171).

Deconstruction is not only one of the core elements of CRT, but it is also one of the core elements of Critical Theory, explained by Britannica as a “Marxist-inspired movement in social and political philosophy originally associated with the work of the Frankfurt School. Drawing particularly on the thought of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, critical theorists maintain that a primary goal of philosophy is to understand and to help overcome the social structures through which people are dominated and oppressed.”

Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud were significant influences on the Frankfurt School, including Critical Theory and its fruits such as CRT. Karl Marx promoted the idea that conflict is necessary for progress. A summary of this process, known as the dialectic process, can be explained as such: 

In the dialectical process, the thesis must always attract an antithesis, and this tension must always result in a synthesis, which in turn becomes a new thesis. This new thesis is always more advanced than the last thesis, because dialectics perceives the developmental process as an upward spiral. Simply stated, dialectics sees change or process due to conflict or struggle as the only constant, and this change and conflict always lead to a more advanced level. 

Thus, Karl Marx’s idea is based on power

Sigmund Freud’s ideas, on the other hand, are based on pleasure. The id (instinct) and ego (which builds on the id to deal with reality in a socially acceptable way) are the center of a person, and the superego (consciousness) brings pleasure when these three are in harmony. Pleasure is the goal; “you exist for me” becomes the focus of a life lived for pleasure, (i.e., hedonism).

However, Pope John Paul II, in his Theology of the Body, tells us that these two theories are the antithesis of love and existence. He writes:

Ricoeur described Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche as “masters of suspicion” (“maîtres du soupçon”). He had in mind the set of systems that each of them represents, and above all, perhaps, the hidden basis and the orientation of each of them in understanding and interpreting the humanum itself. …the rediscovery of the meaning of the whole of existence, the meaning of life, which also contains that meaning of the body which here we call “nuptial.” The meaning of the body is, in a sense, the antithesis of Freudian libido. The meaning of life is the antithesis of the interpretation “of suspicion.” [emphasis added] This interpretation is radically different from what we rediscover in Christ’s words in the Sermon on the Mount. (TOB Oct. 29, 1980 [Audience 46], sec. 1-3,6) 

Marxist and Freudian theories thus stop us from understanding our humanity and even the very meaning of life! Founder of CRT Richard Delgado unknowingly demonstrates this with his definition of “False Consciousness.” He defines False Consciousness as the “Phenomenon in which oppressed people internalize and identify with attitudes and ideology of the controlling class” (Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, 3rd Ed., p. 174). 

In other words, “the two should NOT become one” as God intends. His intent is evident at the beginning of creation with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:24) and with God and humanity at the end of time (Revelation 21:3). With CRT, truth is based on isolation, “me,” “what I want.” This is the antithesis of love! It is the opposite of the nuptial meaning of the body in which the two DO identify with each other because of love. Love turns the “me” into “we.” 

CRT, on the other hand, leads to jealousy, envy, and pride. We see this by examining the five steps to pride from Fr. Robert Spitzer in his book Christ versus Satan in Our Daily Lives: The Cosmic Struggle Between Good and Evil:

  1. Dominant Ego-Comparitive (Level Two) Identity. This is the natural state of Marxism (thesis-antithesis = synthesis). You look outside yourself, not out of love, but simply so you can compare yourself to others. This brings out the sins of Jealousy and Envy. 
  2. An increasingly strong belief in one’s inherent superiority (whether based on an ego-comparative advantage or on projections to cover over inferiority feelings)
  3. The desire to make one’s belief in inherent superiority felt within the external world
  4. A desire to press one’s advantages in the external world to their fullest limit…at this point, the urge to dominate overshadows and suppresses one’s conscience and feelings of empathy and care
  5. The choice to be despotic—that is, to exercise one’s power over others in an absolute, oppressive, and even cruel way not for any external advantage, but simply to exercise “godlike” authority over others…To maintain this delusion, the subject must believe that he has transcended good and evil—or rejected the idea of good and evil. [emphasis added] (pp. 328-329)

Simply put, we start with comparison instead of contributive identity, which eventually leads to “transcending” evil; I decide what is good and evil…if I (we) say you are racist, then you are racist, even if there is no proof or simply if you are doing a job we deem as racist. 

To be clear, racism is a sin and is to be condemned in all circumstances in which it happens. But we cannot commit the sin of rash judgment in our attempts to eradicate racism. At the same time, we must try to combat CRT because its fruits are the sins of jealousy, envy, pride, and ultimately trying to replace God by determining what or who is good or evil by being “woke” or “racist.” We must condemn the theory in all its forms. 

We must be critical of Critical Race Theory because it promotes power and hedonism, which, as John Paul II noted, prevents us from understanding the meaning of life because it stifles love. We must stand up for love because that is what God has made us for in making us for Himself. 

While doing this, however, we must not use Marxist means and hate our brothers and sisters and fellow citizens. As the first letter of St. John reminds us, “whoever says he loves God but hates his brother is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen…whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21). Let us live in truth, not a lie; let us love God and our brothers and sisters; and let us be critical of those things which prevent us from doing so, such as Critical Race Theory.

[Photo Credit: Shutterstock]

By

Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony is a deacon for St. Timothy Catholic Church in Chantilly, Virginia. He has a ministry for racial healing in relationships and has given numerous talks on racial issues to schools, young adults, and parishes. His website is www.jmjgerardmarie.com.

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