Wednesday, October 27

The ‘critical theory of race’ is the new ghost of the right wing. The left must not fall into it | Cas Mudde

There’s a specter haunting America: the specter of critical race theory. That, at least, is the impression you would get from the right-wing media. Fox News Has mentioned the term about 1,300 times since March, including nearly 250 times last week alone.

If you don’t know, Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a legal school of thought that argues that racism is not just a problem of biases held by individual human beings, but a structural problem that may be embedded in laws and governments. apparently neutral. Institutions. Thanks in part to efforts By conservative activists to turn this previously esoteric scholarly idea into a catch-all for the excesses of anti-racist politics, critical race theory has been turned overnight into a ghost of the right wing. Conservative politicians in at least 20 states are pushing legislation to ban its teaching in schools.

Rather than critically engage with critical race theory, right-wing politicians and the media prefer to attack a carefully constructed version of the straw man, transforming “the academic study of structural racism into a vague surprise bag of villainy.” , on words Alex Shepard of the New Republic. Just as conservatives attacked anything to the left of the far right as “communist” during the red scare of the 1960s, today’s reactionaries denounce anything with a hint of anti-racism as “critical race theory” or ” wake up “crazed.

It makes sense that a conservative movement that has connected its destiny with Donald Trump and a white supremacist agenda sees anything that criticizes the country’s racist structures as a major threat. What is more disconcerting, at least at first glance, is the anger that critical race theory has also drawn from some left and liberal camps. Some liberal media seem almost as obsessed as conservatives with critical race theory, “canceled culture,” “identity politics,” and the like, phenomena that they treat as interchangeable symptoms of the same political malaise. Just look at the flood of critical parts on identity politics Y “wake up“In the opinion pages of the New York Times During the last years.

In the eyes of some liberals and leftists, perhaps the most famous personified By academic Mark Lilla, emphasizing race and racism distracts from the true progressive struggle between labor and capital. Across the Western world, most old whites are lining up to warn us that the “working class” (read: nativist white workers) feels betrayed by center-left parties that cater to “cosmopolitans” or “urbanites” with “symbolic” policies. on topics like gender neutral baths, rather than offering real material remedies on traditional bread and butter problems.

What they do not see, or do not want to see, is that economic and cultural problems are not clearly separated; if anything, they are intimately intertwined and always have been. Nostalgia for the golden age of progressivism (the early 20th century in the United States and the 1960s and 1970s in Western Europe) ignores that the social democratic welfare state was built on heteronormativity, patriarchy, and white supremacy. Many state regulations were provided on the basis of a “traditional” family model, in which the man was the main or sole breadwinner in the family and the woman looked after the children. And white workers were able to achieve upward mobility in part because immigrants replaced them in less desirable and lower-paying jobs.

Unfortunately, some younger liberals, often calling themselves centrists or classical liberals, share the reflexive hostility of the older left towards racial and sexual politics and what they see as excessive radicalism. Wear Persuasion, a relatively new online publication created by Yascha Mounk, who became famous as a fervent critic of right-wing populism and Donald Trump. In many ways, the publication is a typical product of the Trump era, created to “defend the values ​​of a free societyAgainst Trump. But from the start, most of Persuasion’s articles have focused on criticizing the left, whether in the form of improperly “awakened” Americans or Venezuela’s nominally socialist authoritarian regime. The far right, including the Trumpist Republican Party, increasingly seems like an afterthought.

Leftists and liberals against identity politics must stop acting like the useful idiots of the far right by promoting their favorite topics and terminology. These anti-racism campaigns may seem ridiculous on Fox News, but they have real consequences in legislatures and legislative bodies across the country, where Republican politicians are using the bogeyman of critical race theory and identity politics. in order to RAM reactionary rhetoric in law. From coast to coast, Republican lawmakers have unleashed the deepest attack on democracy this country has seen in decades. Leftists and liberals must recognize that the true enemy of both the working class and free society is on the right, and that their threat remains at least as dire as it was in 2016.

  • Cas Mudde is the Stanley Wade Shelton UGAF Professor of International Affairs at the University of Georgia, author of The far right today (2019) and host of the podcast Radical. He is a columnist for The Guardian US

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