Wednesday, February 19, 2020

February 19, 2020

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

Children’s Books, the American Library Association, and Critical Race Theory

Friends,

Something just a bit different today. A very good friend of mine—he used to be my superior when I worked at the North Carolina State Archives—writes occasional pieces and sends on items, usually about education and how our educational system has been corrupted. He holds a doctorate and is also a qualified architectural historian of some note. Today I copy something he sent out about the state of education in primary grades, specifically in early reading and what the American Library Association is doing to assist in revolutionizing the United States by popularizing critical race theory and the destruction of traditional male/female distinctions among young children (and their educators).

Every parent—every grandparent or uncle and aunt—should be deeply concerned by this process, for those young children are our future, and we have seen what happens when impressionable minds are molded at an early age.

As I have written on numerous occasions in the past, we face a multi-faceted cultural revolution which is extremely active and operative on many levels. This revolution encompasses dedicated acolytes seemingly with inexhaustible energy and quasi-religious drive, with monetary funding coming—perhaps ironically—from some of the biggest and most wealthy moneybags in America (e.g., Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg) and in the world (e.g., George Soros). Driven by an inculcated ideological zeal, I have labeled these activists “insaniacs,” for their frenetic passion is fueled by a kind of diabolical insanity, with its own set of beliefs, its own worldview, and they are its apostles—fanatics programmed almost like those popularized zombies on such television programs as “The Walking Dead” and dozens of cult movies.

Except these revolutionaries, these post-Marxist zombies are very real: they inhabit most of our college campuses, occupy most faculty chairs (and college administration posts) at those universities, almost totally dominate Hollywood, control our publishing industry, lurk about on all the major television networks, have made serious inroads into Wall Street finance, and increasingly make their presence known politically. Most academic professional organizations now, whether the American Historical Association, the Modern Language Association, or the American Library Association have become occupied bastions, mouthpieces for their propaganda and indoctrination…and continued subversion of older inherited American traditions and  values.

They shape our culture, our language, how we see ourselves, and, largely, our political culture.

My correspondent also attaches a copy of a recent Wall Street Journal article on this situation, and I also copy parts of that, plus an essay on Critical Race Theory, which is mentioned by him.

I do not name my friend—some of you may be able to figure out who he is. His comments and what follows merit close attention…and action.
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I attach a January 31, 2020, article by Meghan Cox Gurdon, the Wall Street Journal children's book reviewer. Ms. Gurdon reports on the recent ideologically-slanted book awards of the American Library Association (ALA). By way of overview, Gurdon warns of the capture of children's literature by the left:

Members of the general public may be unaware of the degree to which identity politics are pervading the world of children’s literature. Books are increasingly assessed as much for the racial and ethnic backgrounds of those creating the art as for the excellence of the art itself.

As Gurdon acknowledges, not all of the ALA's book award choices are off the chart in regard to political correctness. Undefeated and the New Kid are positive and not weighed down by grievance mongering. 

An important take-away from Gurdon's piece, however, is that the academic racism of Critical Race Theory (taught in the UNC System) is bearing fruit in our libraries. 

Who knew that Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House on the Prairie fame and May Hill Arbuthnot, author of the old Dick and Jane readers, were such reactionary troglodytes that they needed to be erased by the ALA from the literary stage. One is reminded of Soviet politicians who fell into disfavor and tossed by Stalin down the memory hole. 

Most chilling--as noted by Ms. Gurdon--is the story, Dig, by A.S. King, a popular fiction writer for young adults. Ms. King, a white woman, brings Critical Race Theory to life in her award-winning book. Like Soviet children who were lauded for reporting on their parents, King's white teen subjects are apparently glorified for hating and "coming for" their own parents and grandparents. 

Where will all this stoking of racial resentment and shaming end?

Are our libraries--and schools--becoming hatcheries for the deconstruction of American history and culture?

PS: What is Critical Race Theory (CRT) you may ask? I attach a description from the Harvard Law Record. If not being undertaken now, there is need for an educational Manhattan Project to refute or at least give balance to the corrosive doctrine of CRT in our university classrooms.

Wall Street Journal
Children’s Books: All Woke—and All Winners
0On hue, heritage and the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards for 2020.
By  Meghan Cox Gurdon  Jan. 31, 2020 11:14 am ET
Members of the general public may be unaware of the degree to which identity politics are pervading the world of children’s literature. Books are increasingly assessed as much for the racial and ethnic backgrounds of those creating the art as for the excellence of the art itself. A social-media commentator caught the zeitgeist this week with unintentional comic brilliance. During the American Library Association’s initial announcements of its biggest accolades on Monday, this plaintive tweet went out: “Love the ALA awards and seeing so many worthy books recognized. But if I were a female/non-binary illustrator, I imagine I’d feel a little discouraged right now.”
The ALA awards already include encomia for specific types of people. There are awards for books by Latino and African-American writers and illustrators. There’s an award newly brought under the ALA mantle that celebrates “the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians.” There are awards for books that portray and affirm the “Jewish experience,” the “disability experience” and the “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience.” So the idea of categorizing books and their creators is not new. And at its best, this approach represents an earnest and welcome effort to raise the profile of writers and artists whose work might otherwise escape broad attention and to expand the variety of stories and characters that children encounter in literature.
But what’s happening now goes much further. The industry that produces the baby books, picture books, chapter books and novels read by America’s children and teenagers is undergoing ideological capture by the intersectional left. The ALA continues to purge itself of association with individuals from the pre-woke past. Recently, May Hill Arbuthnot (1884-1969), a pioneering scholar of children’s literature who also co-created the “Dick and Jane” books, joined Melvil Dewey (inventor of the library classification system) and Laura Ingalls Wilder (author of the “Little House” books) in having her name stripped from an ALA distinction, in this case a prestigious annual lecture.
Authors and illustrators are being flamed online and having their reputations traduced and their careers threatened for transgressing the capricious new standards of ideological purity. One of these is a preoccupation known as #OwnVoices, in which authors of a specific race, heritage or disability are held to be the only valid portrayers of characters of that particular race, heritage or disability. Anyone of a differing race, heritage or disability—say, a woman of Puerto Rican descent who writes about Mexicans, or a Native American Pueblo writer who draws on Navajo culture—may be slammed, or worse, for appropriation. A recent much-talked-about “diversity in publishing” survey conducted by Lee & Low Books (the second since 2015) bemoans the pallor, heterosexuality and general able-bodiness that prevails in the industry. The 2019 survey asks: “If the people who work in publishing are not a diverse group, how can diverse voices truly be represented in its books?”
Well, one way is for those voices to be singled out for accolades, which is what happened on Monday: Most of those who won outright or received secondary honors for the three most prestigious ALA awards happen not to be white. All three of the winning books deal explicitly with race, one of them in a mode of bitter polemic. Given the high quality and enormous range of new books for young readers in 2019, the choices suggest that artistic quality is not the only criterion at work.
[….]

A.S. King’s young-adult novel “Dig” (Dutton, 392 pages, $17.99), which won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, vibrates with the retributive anger of critical race theory. In an afterword, the author, who is white, describes the book as “uncomfortable.” That’s one word for it. Pitiless and cold-blooded are others. Five white teenagers are connected in ways that only one of them understands in this story of awful wealthy white grandparents, their awful and feckless white adult children, and the woke grandchildren who regard their elders with contempt. The writing is strong, but the whole thing is soaked in venom. Indeed, near the end, Ms. King makes a chilling promise about her young characters: “They are coming for their parents. They are coming for their grandparents. They are coming for you.”

In fact, they’re already here.
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INDEPENDENT AT HARVARD LAW SCHOOL SINCE 1946
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Racism, Justified: A Critical Look at Critical Race Theory
Posted by Bill Barlow on February 29, 2016 in Opinion
By now, most of you have heard of Critical Race Theory. Its narrative, ideology, and even vocabulary have become a familiar refrain. “Systemic oppression,” “institutional racism,” and “white privilege” have become common topics of debate. At Harvard Law, a group of protestors calls for $5 million and three tenure-track faculty to establish a program on Critical Race Theory at HLS. But, beneath the demands, there remains a lack of clarity about what Critical Race Theory actually means.
Critical Race Theory Calls for Permanent, Codified Racial Preferences
At the heart of Critical Race Theory lies the rejection of colorblind meritocracy. “Formal equality overlooks structural disadvantages and requires mere nondiscrimination or “equal treatment.”[1] Instead, Critical Race Theory calls for “aggressive, color conscious efforts to change the way things are.”[2] It contemplates, “race-conscious decision making as a routine, non-deviant mode, a more or less permanent norm”[3] to be used in distributing positions of wealth, prestige, and power.[4]
Critical Race Theorists wish to move beyond the narrow scope of current American affirmative action policies, “which strangles affirmative action principles by protecting the property interest of whiteness.”[5] Instead, Critical Race Theorists argue for a “conception of affirmative action where existing distributions of property will be modified by rectifying unjust loss and inequality.”[6] “Property rights will then be respected, but they will not be absolute; rather, they will be considered against a societal requirement for affirmative action.”[7] “In essence this conception of affirmative action is moving towards reallocation of power.”[8]Race-conscious decision making is necessary to “deliberately structure institutions so that communities and social classes share wealth and power”[9] where race is seen as “a rough but adequate proxy for connection with a subordinated community.”[10]
Meanwhile, Critical Race Theory treats the idea of meritocracy—or the idea, in this context, that the law can and should treat all equally regardless of the color of their skin—as “a vehicle for self-interest, power, and privilege”[11] This “myth of meritocracy” is merely a tool to perpetuate the existing power structures that are based on white supremacy and white privilege. Thus, the myth of meritocracy marginalizes people of color.[12] The only alternative, then, is to use racial preferences to “delegitimize the property interest of whiteness—to dismantle the actual and expected privilege that has attended ‘white’ skin.”[13]
Critical Race Theory Rejects Liberalism
Along with meritocracy, Critical Race Theory “rejects the traditions of liberalism.”[14] As described by Critical Race theorist Richard Delgado, “[Critical Race theorists] are suspicious of another liberal mainstay, namely rights.”[15] “Particularly some of the older, more radical Critical Race Theory scholars…believe that moral and legal rights are apt to do the right holder much less good than we like to think.”[16] “In our system, rights are almost always procedural (such as due process) rather than substantive (for example, to food, housing, or education).”[17] “Moreover, rights are said to be alienating. They separate people from each other ‘stay away, I’ve got my rights’—rather than encouraging them to form close, respectful communities.”[18]
As a result, Critical Race theorists tend to be less protective of traditional liberal rights, most notably those involving speech. Critical Race theorists have called for “tort remedies for racist speech”[19] and some theorists believe that “formal criminal and administrative sanction—public as opposed to private prosecution—is also an appropriate response to racist speech.”[20] These debates, once academic in nature, have become increasingly salient with the recent wave of campus protests.[21] Concerns about free speech are interpreted by some Critical Race theorists as an expression of “white fragility,” which is “in and of itself an expression of white supremacy.”[22]
Critical Race Theory’s Narrative Approach to Truth
Critical Race Theory is uniquely reliant on narrative to substantiate its claims. “An essential tenant of Critical Race Theory is counter storytelling.”[23] Narrative analysis can be used “to reveal the circular, self-serving nature of particular legal doctrines or rules.”[24] “Most mainstream scholars embrace universalism over particularity, and abstract principles and ‘the rule of law’ over perspectivism.”[25] “Clashing with this more traditional view, Critical Race Theory emphasizes the opposite, in what has been termed the ‘call to context.’”
“For Critical Race Theorists, general laws may be appropriate in some contexts (such as, perhaps, trusts and estates, or highway speed limits), but political and moral discourse is not one of them.”[26] Narratives need not necessarily be true to prove their point. “In order to appraise the contradictions and inconsistencies that pervade the all too real world of racial oppression, I have chosen in this book the tools not only of reason but of unreason, of fantasy.”[27]
Narratives are employed to shore up other basic premises of Critical Race Theory, such as the notion that “racism is a permanent component of American life” and that racism continues to play a “dominant role” in American society.[28] For instance, Critical Race Theorists use individual narratives of hate crime incident to explore the import and impact as hate speech in order to argue for the inadequacy of current punishment.[29] Salient to the current campus debate, campus protestors often employ narratives to argue that Harvard today engages in “systemic racism and exclusion.”[30]
A Brief Critique
Critical Race theory offers a potent mix: rejecting racial neutrality in the law, rejecting the liberal emphasis on individual rights, rejecting the possibility of objectively neutral legal analysis and embracing “the tools not only of reason but of unreason.”[31] It is an unusual combination for a theory originating on the far left.
If Critical Race theory were just about affirmative action, perhaps we could let such indulgences slide. But Critical Race theory not only directs how to structure the university, but also how to structure the relation of the individual to the state. Racially-based taxes, racially-based employment quotas, racially-based redistributions of wealth: none would be beyond the theoretical horizon of Critical Race theory. All are justified by an appeal to inadequate racial justice, an appeal that can neither be proved nor disproved, an appeal that can just as easily be used for naked racial subordination. All fall within a context where speech labeled as “hurtful” and “racist” could be punishable by law, and opponents of the racial regime would be silenced.
To teach Critical Race Theory is to teach the latest in a sad line of theoretical justifications for legally-codified racism. As a proponent of academic freedom, I have no problem with this, just as I would have no problem for studying the legal justifications for other regimes that have codified race into law. But let’s not pretend that we are doing anything else, and let’s certainly not mandate the teaching of any such ideology.
Bill Barlow is a 3L.



[1] Harris, Cheryl. “Whiteness As Property”. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement. Kimberle Crenshaw. 1st ed. New York: New York Press, 1995. 289
[2] Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical race theory: an introduction (2012), 49
[3] Kennedy, Duncan, “A Cultural Pluralist Case for Affirmative Action in Legal Academia.Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement. Kimberle Crenshaw. 1st ed. New York: New York Press, 1995. 164
[4] Guinier, Lani, “Groups, Representation, and Race-Conscious Districting: A Case of the Emperor’s Clothes”. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement. Kimberle Crenshaw. 1st ed. New York: New York Press, 1995. 215, making the case that “race is as effective as geography in functioning as a political proxy.” The article defends certain principles behind race-conscious districting. This article does not, however, call for explicit transfer of political power on the basis of race, only race conscious decision making in districting.
[5] Harris, Cheryl. “Whiteness As Property”. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement. Kimberle Crenshaw. 1st ed. New York: New York Press, 1995. 290
[6] Harris, Cheryl. “Whiteness As Property”. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement. Kimberle Crenshaw. 1st ed. New York: New York Press, 1995. 290
[7] Harris, Cheryl. “Whiteness As Property”. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement. Kimberle Crenshaw. 1st ed. New York: New York Press, 1995. 290
[8] Harris, Cheryl. “Whiteness As Property”. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement. Kimberle Crenshaw. 1st ed. New York: New York Press, 1995. 290
[9] Kennedy, Duncan, “A Cultural Pluralist Case for Affirmative Action in Legal Academia.Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement. Kimberle Crenshaw. 1st ed. New York: New York Press, 1995. 162
[10] Kennedy, Duncan, “A Cultural Pluralist Case for Affirmative Action in Legal Academia.Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement. Kimberle Crenshaw. 1st ed. New York: New York Press, 1995. 162
[11] “What is Critical Race Theory?” Form the UCLA School of Public Affairs, seehttps://spacrs.wordpress.com/what-is-critical-race-theory/
[12] See “What is Critical Race Theory?” Form the UCLA School of Public Affairs, seehttps://spacrs.wordpress.com/what-is-critical-race-theory/. See also Godsey, Mark A., “The Myth of Meritocracy, and the Silencing of Minority Voices: The Need for Diversity on America’s Law Reviews” (1995). Faculty Articles and Other Publications. Paper 84.http://scholarship.law.uc.edu/fac_pubs/84
[13] Harris, Cheryl. “Whiteness As Property”. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement. Kimberle Crenshaw. 1st ed. New York: New York Press, 1995. 288
[14] See “What is Critical Race Theory?” Form the UCLA School of Public Affairs, seehttps://spacrs.wordpress.com/what-is-critical-race-theory/. See also Anthology, xix-xx, on the divide between Critical Race Theory and traditional liberalism.
[15] Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical race theory: an introduction (2012),50
[16] Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical race theory: an introduction (2012),50
[17] Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical race theory: an introduction (2012),50
[18] Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical race theory: an introduction (2012),51
[19] Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical race theory: an introduction (2012),47
[20] Mari J. Matsuda, Public Response to Racist Speech: Considering the Victim’s Story, 87 Mich. L. Rev. 2321 (1989).
[21] For a short review of some recent conflicts between protestors on issues of free speech, see “Fascism at Yale”http://hlrecord.org/2015/11/fascism-at-yale/
[22] “Free speech, Black lives, and white fragility” by Bennett Carpenter, Duke Chronicle, January 19, 2016. http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2016/01/free-speech-black-lives-and-white-fragility
[23] “DeCuir, J. T., & Dixson, A. D.. (2004). “So When It Comes out, They Aren’t That Surprised That It Is There”: Using Critical Race Theory as a Tool of Analysis of Race and Racism in Education. Educational Researcher33(5), 27.
[24]Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical race theory: THE CUTTING EDGE (2000)https://www.temple.edu/tempress/chapters_1100/1169_ch1.pdf xvii
[25] Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical race theory: THE CUTTING EDGE (2000)https://www.temple.edu/tempress/chapters_1100/1169_ch1.pdf xvii
[26] Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Critical race theory: THE CUTTING EDGE (2000)https://www.temple.edu/tempress/chapters_1100/1169_ch1.pdf xvii
[27] Derrick Bell, And we are not saved: the elusive quest for racial justice (1987). 5.
[28] “DeCuir, J. T., & Dixson, A. D.. (2004). “So When It Comes out, They Aren’t That Surprised That It Is There”: Using Critical Race Theory as a Tool of Analysis of Race and Racism in Education. Educational Researcher33(5), 27
[29] “DeCuir, J. T., & Dixson, A. D.. (2004). “So When It Comes out, They Aren’t That Surprised That It Is There”: Using Critical Race Theory as a Tool of Analysis of Race and Racism in Education. Educational Researcher33(5), 28
[30]See https://reclaimharvardlaw.wordpress.com/ for the point that Reclaim Harvard Law believes that Harvard engages in systemic racism and exclusion. The import of personal narratives to this conclusion is evident in the community meetings as well as personal discussions with members of the protest movement.

[31] Derrick Bell, And we are not saved: the elusive quest for racial justice (1987). 5.

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