Critical theory, an ideology that has dropped deep roots into America’s most powerful institutions, is opposed to the very foundation of Western civilization.
This is according to a group of panelists on a Heritage Foundation webinar on Monday, who laid out what critical race theory is, how pervasive it has become, and what needs to be done to stop it.
Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation and author of the new book “The Plot to Change America: How Identity Politics is Dividing the Land of the Free,” laid out the development of critical theory, which had its origin in Germany in the 1930s and was further developed into critical race theory in the 1970s.
Critical race theory combines Marxist theories of oppressor versus oppressed with the lens of race. It ultimately defines all history and human interactions as a perpetual racial conflict.
Jonathan Butcher, a senior education analyst at The Heritage Foundation, who co-authored a Heritage Foundation paper on critical race theory along with Gonzalez, explained why this ideology is such a threat to America’s future.
“Critical race theory and its parent, critical theory, are rooted in a worldview that wants to dismantle social and governmental norms,” Butcher said.
While racism and other prejudices still and will continue to exist, Butcher said this does not mean that we don’t have to ignore the intolerance and “dogmas” of critical theory.
“Critical theory is not a sympathetic perspective with policy goals that lead to racial reconciliation, freedom, and opportunity,” Butcher said. “It’s talking about subjugation and retribution.”
Proponents of critical theory, Butcher explained, even acknowledge that their ideas counter the values of the Enlightenment and classical liberalism, which were essential elements of the American founding.
These ideas are not just consigned to the margins of academia, however, as explained by Christopher Rufo, director of the Center on Wealth and Poverty at Discovery Institute and fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Instead, they have become pervasive in countless private and governmental institutions.
Rufo conducted research into human resource departments and governmental agencies that have become increasingly reliant on critical race theory.
“The National Nuclear Laboratory in New Mexico was holding a critical race theory-based training in which they took their white male executives to a resort and forced them to go through a series of trainings to deconstruct their white male identity, which was consonant with the [Ku Klux Klan], MAGA hats, mass killings,” Rufo said.
They then had to publicly condemn themselves and write letters of apology for their “whiteness.”
This was one among many examples, Rufo said.
“The [Federal Bureau of Investigation] was holding intersectionality training for FBI employees, the Justice Department was teaching the tenets of critical race theory, and even the Treasury Department was holding training sessions outlining how the United States was a fundamentally racist and irredeemable country,” Rufo said.
Rufo’s research led to an executive order from President Donald Trump banning these trainings in the federal government, but he said that it’s likely the executive order will be cancelled and the training sessions “will come back with a vengeance.”
The Heritage Foundation’s director of the Center for Education Policy, Lindsey Burke, said that colleges and universities have become a fountain from which the ideas of critical race theory have spread.
She said that for those concerned about its spread, attention needs to be paid to school boards, which are responsible for shaping the content of curriculum in classrooms across America.
A recent report by Burke and Gonzalez laid out how interest groups are able to lean on school boards and get material, like The New York Times’ 1619 Project, into classrooms.
“State lawmakers should require public school boards to make curricular materials available for public review,” Burke said.
Butcher spoke about other ways that critical race theory can be countered.
“Those in churches and community groups, in the workplace, I would cast a very careful eye to things that go under the guise of diversity trainings,” Butcher said. “I think that anything that is casting accusations or calling people to apologize for simply their identification or their category, that removes hope. You are what you are born into.”