individualmember wrote: ↑
Sun Sep 06, 2020 6:22 pm
Not being ejicated in wot phrases like ‘critical race theory’ mean, my mental meanderings are initially about wanting social change versus not wanting social change. Progressivism versus whatever the opposite of that is... objection to change in a rigid social hierarchy I guess (there must be a word for it but I can’t think of it).
Critical race theory is, essentially, critical theory as applied to issues of race. It is post-structuralist, going back via academics like Kimberle Crenshaw to the likes of Foucault. It is not just completely lacking in evidence base, it is fundamentally opposed to the concept of evidence and empiricism. Crticial theory is not about weighing up the actual impact of different interventions, or measuring the scale of the problem, but instead obsessed with narrative. It is descended from a school of though that - very roughly - believes that all established frameworks for studying the world (say, empiricism in science, or marxism in economics) are oppressive social constructs that need to be deconstructed. It is somewhat more modern than the civil rights struggle, proving, if nothing else, that one can be all sorts of anti-racist, from Dr. King through to Malcolm X both early and later in his life, without ever having heard of anything to do with it.
Critical theory's obsession with problematising supposed power hierarchies can quickly lead to absurd an unpleasant results.
For example, a reasonable person might notice that medical trials disproportionately use young male volunteers, and that this might result in effects in other people - pregnant women for example - being missed, and that therefore trials should endeavour to recruit more representative samples. A critical theorist, meanwhile, would point out that evidence based medicine privileges one way of knowing (observation, experimentation and working out what actually happens when you do things) over other ways of knowing (my-mate-down-the-pub-said, chinny reckons, haruspicy, etc), and that as a result, evidence based medicine is comparable to fascism.
One I've personally run up again quite a lot is the idea that a disabled person missing being able bodied, or not wanting to be defined by their disability, or wanting to still do the things they used to do before being ill, or that their able bodied friends do, is promoting a narrative that it is better to be able bodied than disabled, and thus ableist. I had a couple of people tell me that wanting to create a wheelchair that could get me out into the countryside - something I have missed to the point of considering suicide - was prejudiced against myself, but also that by reinforcing this narrative, that I was making other disabled people unsafe.
While Trump's opposition to this probably is to do with not wanting social change, in general, the support of or opposition to critical theory has nothing to do with whether or not one supports social change, but how one goes about it.
Isn’t the American dream something about not being restricted by the position each individual is born into? Like everyone should be able to transcend their background with ambition and hard work? Or something
It is, but one does not need theories of power-knowledge and discursive violence and so on to understand that some people are denied that opportunity due to both prejudice towards arbitrary characteristics, race among them, and the long term effects of generations of that prejudice. Nor to understand that this should not be the case.
It seems to me that not wanting to teach about stuff is essentially the same as not wanting anything to change. If people learned about something they might choose to do something other than what they’ve been doing forever without thinking about it and we can’t possibly allow that, if you see what I mean. Is it fear of change?
In the case of Trump, it's because someone tracked down the course materials used for a training session for not strictly federal workers but federal contractors, and got it onto Tucker Carlson, who undoubtedly will have focussed on the worst elements, and speculated wildly and ignorantly, not doubt adding heapings of his own prejudices. Seeing something he didn't like on the television, Trump thus lashed out.
But that doesn't mean Critical Race Theory is of any value as a way of understanding the world, and it is certainly not synonymous with anti-racism, just a queer theory is not synonymous with gay rights or sexual freedom, and so on.