Critical Race Theory Deserves the Criticism It's Getting


A front-page story ("A new wedge issue in campaign," July 18) and a commentary("What CRT looks like in my classroom," July 17) recently criticized the critics of critical race theory, or at least of the "straw man" the critics are said to have created.

The critics' claim is that the real critical race theory is a mere corrective addition to the "current" school history standards, which supposedly omits discussion of slavery, racism, Native American/settler conflict and other American shortcomings. This is either naiveté or plain falsehood.

I hold a Ph.D. in history and I taught, as part of a multiracial staff, at the University of Minnesota's Tri-Racial Center — an actual corrective supplement to high school teachers in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the 1970s. After that time these topics were universally addressed in the high school standards, and have been for decades.

CRT is a far more dangerous and one-sided attack on the entire range of standards for history, literature and social studies — and on America's fundamental principles of equal treatment under law and outcomes determined by "the content of character" rather than the color of one's skin.

Let me offer some examples of "proposed" and current CRT-related educational phenomenon (oh yes, it is in our schools now). The proposed CRT-influenced state history standards literally dropped any mention of the actual events, causes or results of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War or World Wars I and II, except in as far as the wars affected Blacks or other minorities, and omitted the Holocaust altogether.

Schoolchildren in several Minnesota school districts report that all they are currently taught about World War II is that that's when America bombed Japan and killed children. They learn that George Washington was a bad man who owned slaves. Students of Hispanic heritage are told they are "victims" and white students that they are "oppressors."

Students are told that it's right to treat people differently based on skin color. In fact, CRT's principal "theorist," Ibram X. Kendi, is clear on this point: "The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination," he has written. "The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination."

This is not a corrective to some mythical white supremacist historical narrative that hasn't existed for at least two generations. Nor is CRT based on "diversity" or "inclusion" principles. It is itself a racist creed, derived from the Marxist class conflict model, which seeks to pit Black against white and each against all. It is identity politics gone rogue, dividing Americans based on race and national origin and caricaturing American history like a Soviet-era cartoon.

CRT (or whatever proponents are calling it this week) seeks to delete any teaching about the advances of human liberty heralded by the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, "systematically" advanced by the abolition of slavery and the expansion of voting rights, ultimately to all, by the equal treatment of new states and of immigrants, by an unprecedented economic betterment for all classes. It ignores the contributions and progress of all Americans symbolized by the election of Irish, Italian and Hispanic Americans, Catholics, Jews and Black people as governors, senators and presidents.

America has done more to improve the political, cultural and economic condition of working people and racial minorities than any other nation. CRT falsely denies these things and explicitly calls for race-based favoritism in policies and outcomes and racial discrimination in all things. It should not be taught in the schools or influence curriculum. It should only be covered in current events as an example of how "lies can travel around the world faster than truth can get its boots on," in Mark Twain's words.

I didn't sit-in against South African investment during apartheid or get clubbed demonstrating against segregated public housing to have these things brought back by the Marxists of CRT, BLM and the 1619 Project. Don't judge this book by its "diversity" and "inclusion" cover, Minnesotans.

Doug Seaton is president of the Upper Midwest Law Center, a public interest law firm that recently prevailed in a lawsuit that is compelling Minneapolis to hire more policeThis opinion piece was published by the Star Tribune, July 23.