01 Jun 2021 Critical Race Theory Is Jim Crow Repackaged
As households across America gear up for a return to normal, they are finding out that leftist radicals continue their efforts to transform America.
Today, their activity du jour is using American classrooms to promote a divisive narrative — Critical Race Theory (CRT), a 21st century Jim Crow.
The similarities between the goals of Jim Crow then and Jim Crow 2.0 now are quite striking. CRT’s goal is to create a legally enforced system that affects all Americans —determining their economic mobility, their status, their ability to find work, and their potential for achieving the Constitution’s promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
If this sounds like 20th century Jim Crow to you, you’re on target.
CRT is a Marxist construct that seeks to link racism, race, and power.
It’s fundamentally different from the American experiment in liberty which works within the structures of broad economic freedom, often using constitutional law and the legislative process, as well as voluntary association to achieve its goals.
There are many failings in Critical Race Theory.
It’s based on false ideas: that prejudice and bigotry can only be manifest by whites and males; it claims that color-blind laws are actually the way that racism is maintained and also that America is thoroughly and irredeemably racist.
Perhaps its most damaging facet is its promotion of 21st century racial separatism.
Here’s the key takeaway. Embedded within CRT is a key Marxist didacticism — ultimately government force must be used to allocate wealth and political power.
This was the same way that 20th century Jim Crow operated.
Simplistic critiques of 20th century Jim Crow focus on the evil of race hatred.
The race hatred was real, true enough.
But the race hatred was actually a tool to galvanize support for maintaining an economic system throughout the South that ensured that elites maintained their wealth and influence at the expense of the rest of the citizenry.
This division is a key Marxist technique and it ensured men and women across the South would willingly forfeit their freedom and rights.
Marxism’s core theory is that that the form of economic organization, or mode of production, influences all other social phenomena including social relations, political institutions, legal systems, cultural systems, aesthetics and ideologies.
Thus, society must form itself around mechanisms that control the distribution of all wealth and income. This is exactly what happened with Jim Crow.
Not surprisingly, this ideology was taught in classrooms all over the South to young people — the most easily influenced in society.
The same approach for Jim Crow 2.0 is being pursued today.
It is without irony that CRT advocates claim that its adoption will help America and improve race relations. How many bigots of yesteryear made the same claim?
Also remember that in order to achieve its aims, CRT requires systemic interventions into the American economy.
Not just “reparations” to one or two classes of people, but aspect of life must be modified and regulated to codify the Marxist belief that people can’t be trusted to freely associate as they choose.
To achieve CRT’s goals, quotas, limits, and minimums must be put in place so that every walk of life meets some arbitrary goal. Not surprisingly, it looks strikingly like the provisions in place for 20th century Jim Crow — which enforced rigid rules for blacks and whites.
In fact, the very falsehoods of Jim Crow 2.0 are promulgated in some of the same ways that the odious “separate but equal doctrine” was promoted.
Then and now these doctrines required support from the government to prosper. Then and now key prominent elements of the society embraced the theory.
Then and now its advocates hoped to obtain and keep political power.
Then and now a coalition of leaders of different races formed to oppose its goals.
Today we know that the totalitarian ideology called Jim Crow does not work. It runs afoul of liberty and free markets.
Despite this lesson, advocates of Jim Crow 2.0 promise it will work this time.
Consider: one of President Biden’s first actions as president was an executive order that explicitly authorized the use of federal funds to promote CRT training within the federal government.
Using this order the U.S. Department of Education pushed a directive that placed similar requirements on all schools in America.
Today, elite academic institutions ranging from Harvard and MIT actively promote CRT and by some estimates, some 150 colleges are doing it also by either promoting it with research funding or actually imposing it on students in the classroom.
Back in the 20th century, some of the most elite southern colleges worked to promote Jim Crow and the harmony of segregation. For instance, UVA promoted eugenics — the knowledge of how various human traits (emotional, physical, intellectual) were inherited, so that such information could be used to advance the human race and preserve racial separation.
UNC-Chapel Hill trustees and graduates provided the intellectual and legal star power to enact the nation’s earliest “white’s only” primary in North Carolina and other extremist policies. Like these schools, scores of elite institutions in the south either actively promoted Jim Crow or ignored its evils.
Today corporate elites like Amazon.com and celebrities Michael Moore and Meryl Streep promote CRT and studios increasingly embrace “woke” storylines. Similarly, in the early 20th century, Hollywood embraced Jim Crow making it nearly impossible for Americans to see blacks as main characters on the big screen or they normalized the Southern policy of separation.
Ultimately however, the race-based Marxism of the 20th century was destined for failure.
A bi-racial coterie formed from all walks of life — people like actor Gregory Peck, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Billy Graham, Rosa Parks along with scores of others objected to Jim Crow.
Together they used their status to get the courts, the legislative process and the America people to reject Jim Crow.
The eradication of Jim Crow didn’t just end the evil of government imposed racial roles for Americans, it freed the South to become a place where Americans now go to pursue their dreams.
Today, the South has the fastest economic growth nationally and is recognized as a place of potential for Americans of all races. As the census shows, the South is the center of our nation’s population growth. Where once it was the place government interfered at the most intimate levels, the South is now least likely to do so.
Americans of all walks of life suffered depredations — their lives as well as their livelihoods lost solely a result of the South’s embrace of Marxist ideology at the beginning of the 20th century.
It’s now been repackaged and re-presented less than 100 years later.
Will Jim Crow 2.0 and its Marxist heritage be allowed to make a come-back?
New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.