The "Fight" against CRT
with Nikita Petrov
Earlier this year, I sat down with writer, artist, and TGS Creative Director Nikita Petrov to talk about two burning questions he had on his mind: “What the hell is going on?” and “What is to be done?” Spoiler: We didn’t come up with any definite answers. But we did hit on a lot of interesting material along the way.
In the following excerpt, Nikita encourages me to think about my relationship to the CRT debate. I often think of the fight against CRT as exactly that: A fight. But is framing the issue as a “fight” a productive way to change minds? After all, I want to win an argument. That doesn’t necessarily mean vanquishing all enemies. It means winning people over to my side. It means convincing people that woke excesses are leading us down a dangerous path. It means inviting people into the truth (at least as I see it).
Should we think of efforts to stop woke indoctrination as a “fight”? I’m still wrestling with the question. I’d love to know what you think—let me know in the comments!
(You can find Nikita’s art and writing over at Psychopolitica and his other conversations on his YouTube channel.)
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NIKITA PETROV: So you see something in a society, let's say this CRT movement and the social structures that are emerging around it. And you see it's problematic. If it is, if one of the issues is these are people that are stuck in this teenage kind of relationship with society at large, with themselves, with each other, with other groups, et cetera.
If you want to find a way for them to transcend that, to grow up, to get more seriously engaged with the issues that they find problematic, should that be fighting the ideology, the movement? Should “the fight” be the metaphor for how you engage with them? This is a metaphor, but if you compare it to, you know, a troubled teenager who says, “Fuck you, fuck this society, I'm in a punk band," and that's working well for a while, but then you want to grow past that. If you just fight the teenager or the music he's making, this attitude, is that a way to help them develop?
GLENN LOURY: Probably not. And if I had a daughter who had fallen into a sect and they believed some strange, weird religious doctrine, would I argue theology with her? “No, the doctrine is incorrect.”
No, no, no. The point would be, you're allowing your life to be consumed by some arbitrary speculations about some things. Come on, don't be a slave to this thing. Think of yourself as a free-acting human being and make your own choices in your life. “Don't be a child. Grow up” would be what I would want to say. I wouldn't want to argue the particulars of the childishness. I wouldn't descend into the world of those ideas in order to refute them. I would ask her to get a grip on her life. I would I would appeal to higher ground than the ground of the particular sectarian obsession. I would appeal to her humanity at a higher level, somehow. Something like that.
I mean, you're making me think that “the fight” ... and I warm to the fight! I now have to ask myself, why do I enjoy the fight? Am I really interested in a solution? Or am I just interested in the fight? Maybe I just like to fight. Maybe it makes me feel good to think of myself as superior to these idiots, which is not helpful. If I was trying to dispel the idiocy, it wouldn't be helpful to get consumed with the good feeling I got of knowing that I was smarter than these idiots [laughs].
So it's a really interesting question. I mean, I think I can give a practical answer to why one should fight CRT. Because if they get control of the schools, they'll ruin an entire generation, and there are real things that are at stake here. Or if they so undermine the basis of political cooperation between people of different racial groups in the United States that the republic itself is weakened and unable to govern itself. That's worth fighting about.
I can take a high-minded position, and I could say, regardless of the efficacy of my engagement with these people, there is something to be said for standing for the truth. This is what I associate with Vaclav Havel's “The Power of the Powerless,” the essay where he tries to give a theory of the dissident and what the role of the dissident is. Who were the dissidents in pre-1989 Eastern Europe? Anyway, there's some value in telling the truth, regardless of what the consequences of telling the truth is. So I could stand on that. I could stand on Socrates or somebody.
Practically, I have The Glenn Show. I have people who come on and we talk. John, and I have this thing that we do. We’re the Wokebusters and we’re the anti-antiracism people. So should we be just talking to each other and pointing out how idiotic they are? Or should we mainly be talking to them so that other people can see the contrast between these ways of thinking? And so that perhaps we can get below the surface-level contestation to what might be common ground or what might be more profound disagreements that could be actually constructively engaged. Something like that. I think there could be something to that.
On one-a the prime purveyors of CRT. IMO, FWIW, ICBW, YMMV, &c.
There Can BE No Debate About CRT - Part 3
21/08/17 Light edits.
21/08/20 VERY minor edits.
As Sir Walter Scott wrote: ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave/When first we practice to deceive,’
As I “said” in Part 2, Your most recent piece, M. Kendi, in that propaganda pub The Atlantic, is called “There Is No Debate Over Critical Race Theory” https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/07/opponents-critical-race-theory-are-arguing-themselves/619391/ . And what You clearly MEAN is that no debate will be tolerated. This is one of the FOUNDATIONAL features of CRT.
. . .
I’m still working with paragraph two of Your essay, M. Kendi, because it was so far from the Truth.
But let me step ahead for a minute, to paragraph three. Because You refer to a man that I GREATLY admire, as I mentioned before. John McWhorter. Just listened to a podcast yesterday, between him and Glenn Loury, my other guiding light.
Professor McWhorter is a linguist, so he comes at things from a slightly different angle than I would, besides the fact that we’re different races. I think what we have in common far outweighs any other considerations. Or, at least, I like to think I also have a dollop of COMMON SENSE.
Now, Professor McWhorter gave up on the idea on the word racism because it had a different meaning for different people. So it may seem obvious that You already know what racism is in Your head, dear reader. So why do I raise the question, right here?
Simply, because there isn’t a COMMON usage of the term, amongst a LOTTA people. Like Professor “says.” People can, and do, define racism to suit their whims. That's common. Having a common meaning for the term is decidedly UNcommon.
This is, plainly, a Trumpism. Do You understand me? Not having common meanings for words allows ANYone, to say just about ANYthing. And they can say they’re correct about something because there are floating versions of the words being used, which can mean ANYTHING they want, in order to make their point.
Racism is such a word. Long story short, I’m going to show TWO definitions of “racism” and show why one, the traditional one, is useless and one can be relied on, in ALL circumstances, to pertain to the issues. It should be noted that wherever I write “racism,” I’m referring to that in the U.S. of A. It may, or may NOT, apply elsewhere.
The traditional, from dictionary.com/browse/racism:
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
2. Also called in·sti·tu·tion·al rac·ism [in-sti-TOO-shuh-nl REY-siz-uhm, -TYOO-], struc·tur·al rac·ism [STRUHK-cher-uhl REY-siz-uhm], sys·tem·ic rac·ism [si-STEM-ik REY-siz-uhm] . a policy, system of government, etc., that is associated with or originated in such a doctrine, and that favors members of the dominant racial or ethnic group, or has a neutral effect on their life experiences, while discriminating against or harming members of other groups, ultimately serving to preserve the social status, economic advantage, or political power of the dominant group.
3. an individual action or behavior based upon or fostering such a doctrine; racial discrimination.
4. racial or ethnic prejudice or intolerance.
The definition above is the “woke” definition of racism. Shows just how powerful CRT is, when it infests dictionary.com.
I’ll dispatch all these definitions in one fell swoop, by pointing out that “institutional,” “structural,” and “systemic” racism don’t exist anymore, in any major Way. Sorry to disillusion You, M. Kendi, but they just don’t, in anything CLOSE to the way many are saying they do. Just don't.
I’ll explain why, later. But first, it’s necessary for You to determine the ONE statistic that overwhelms ALL the other statistics about racism. Of course, I am in no way, shape, or form saying there aren’t a LOT of disparities that need to be worked on.
But since, for the most part, the intelligentsia, that is the elites who form public opinion for us, like You M. Kendi, aren’t concerned with anything so plebian as to actually ATTACK these disparities, I may not even have to write on the subject at all.
As far as I can tell, the war is to gain the upper-hand in public opinion, as opposed to, say, a war on POVERTY.
Getting back to the one statistic that will overwhelm the reader, the reader must think about the ONE salient feature, the ONE value, that upwards of 97.6% of Americans SHARE. To be revealed, like I “said,” later. And I don’t believe I’ll even get an argument against it.
Now we can recall the better definition of racism I proposed in Part 2, okay M. Kendi? Professor McWhorter would prefer we replace “racism” with “societal disparities.” Okay.
Societal Disparities (Racism):
1. That which comes about, largely, because instead-a judging a person “by the content of their character” they’re judged “by the color of their skin.”
2. That which comes about, largely, by disadvantages that are faced by one group, that may not be found as much in another group.
Now we come to the final term, in this very short Part, which is “justice.” Weeel, it may not be as short as I thought, M. Kendi.
That’s because the word has been co-opted to mean something different than what it used to mean. Where there USED to be “justice,” that’s now gone by the wayside. Now, there’s “social justice” which, by DEFINITION, everybody totally, completely, and ABSOLUTELY HAS TO be in favor of.
I don’t know if the Pledge of Allegiance is actually said anymore. Likely that was thrown out with the bath water, like all the other things which show the good character of the U.S. of A. Most KNOW it, though, but just in case I’ll repeat it here:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, WITH LIBERY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. (emphasis added)
Various folks will have differing feelings about “one nation under God.” I, personally, am EXACTLY 50% Fundamentalist Atheist and exactly 50% Religious/Spiritual. Hadn’t INTENDED to bring that into the discussion, but there it is.
Now there are some, no small number I imagine, that REPUDIATE America because of the very FACT that America does NOT attain “liberty and justice for all.” For the same reason they sneer at the Founding Fathers, because they put “all men are created equal” in the Declaration.
And the basic, fundamental reason they believe this way, and You may too M. Kendi, is because they’re basically idiots. Things like this are to be taken as IDEALS that will NEVER be reached perfectly. For reasons I get into directly.
Ideals, pretty much by definition, are never fully attainable. That’s why so many people lose so much psychic energy, because the subconscious notion of their ideal self is never realized. Training the subconscious to grok that ideals can never be attained, and that You’re perfect as You ARE, takes a lot of complications out of living.
Point being, finally getting around to it, that we have a fair bit to go before we have justice for all. And that’s principally because we lack what my Dad told me around five decades ago. Don't know where he got the idea. The idea is we don't have "justice for all" because we don’t have professional jurors, elected by the public.
And we don’t keep any information about judge's decisions who, at least, ARE elected by the public.
There is some lip-service given to governments, at different levels, giving “open access” to information about said government. The ‘Net can SOMETIMES do wonderful things. Problem is, if You don’t COLLECT important information that citizens NEED, then it’s not going to be available, right M. Kendi?
But going back to the fact that justice now has to mean “social justice,” and people who are to be highly regarded are those who are SJW. Warriors.
To me, I can’t think of a worse pejorative to give a person, but that’s just me.
As Professor McWhorter wrote, and You didn’t offer any rebuttal that I saw, M. Kendi (although I may have missed it, of course). Professor McWhorter:
"this usage of the term social justice is typically based on a very particular set of commitments especially influential in this moment: that all white people must view society as founded upon racist discrimination, such that all white people are complicit in white supremacy, requiring the forcing through of equity in suspension of usual standards of qualification or sometimes even logic (math is racist). A view of justice this peculiar, specific, and even revolutionary is an implausible substitute for millennia of discussion about the nature of the good, much less its apotheosis."
Yet, this view has come into common usage, nonetheless. You’d consider Yourself to be a SJW, wouldn’t You M. Kendi? If not, many people (many, many people) would consider You one.
I close with this guess, but I’m about 80 – 90% sure of it. The majority of Black Racists are actually Caucasian.
As I’ve pointed out before: MSM and social media. Corporations and almost all the governments around these days. The AMA and the ABA are going that way. The CRT umbrella covers nearly ALL the intelligentsia, the elites who try to control public opinion. It goes WAY beyond You, M. Kendi, and Robin DiAngelo.
Part 5: https://freeblackthought.substack.com/p/why-did-critical-race-theory-emerge/comments#comment-2638447
Part 7: https://www.persuasion.community/p/-how-not-to-think-about-race/comments#comment-2674139
I believe continuing down the rationale path of disproving the woke stance of them being the "only ones who care about change" is the smart play. Long term strategic approaches to solving the problems impacting the races attempting to be "helped" by CRT teachings would be my preference. The argument against CRT is never going to win the emotional battle of opinions and will never stop the woke of their argument they are "doing the right thing". Similar to tough parental decisions to be strict with your kids because you care about their long term success, we must make clear the ideas against CRT-focused curriculum isn't because "we don't care about those groups". It is because we DO care and hope to not continue this empty debate for decades. I believe if the approach can be anchored in the same way we would argue that we wouldn't allow our children to get away with blaming external forces for their struggles in life, we should make clear that we care so much about the historical lack of success for certain races in America that we would like to give them a more substantial strategy to long term success.