How the New York Times’ Attitude Toward CRT Has Evolved

Critical Race Theory is said to have originated in the law schools; in particular, at Harvard Law School in the early 1970s. This is somewhat ironic. In those days, Harvard was considered a conservative law school, attended by people who actually wanted to be lawyers. Yale was the liberal alternative for people with political ambitions. Harvard Professor Derrick Bell is often identified as the founder of CRT. I knew Professor Bell, who taught my first year Criminal Law course. He seemed like a decent enough guy, if somewhat unorthodox in his methods. He did not give full rein, then, to his anti-Americanism.

The CRT movement apparently spread out from the law schools to academia in general. From there it has infected public schools down to the elementary school level. Meanwhile, the liberal attitude toward this viciously racist, divisive and ahistorical movement has evolved. We can see this in the case of the New York Times. In 1997, the Times ran a piece on CRT headlined, “For Black Scholars Wedded to Prism of Race, New and Separate Goals.” That article is not easily available online, but Unz has lengthy excerpts which I rely on here.

In 1997, the Times’s view of CRT was balanced and, on the whole, negative. It begins, appropriately for CRT, with an anecdote:

Taunya Lovell Banks, a law professor at the University of Maryland, was traveling by train to Baltimore a few years ago when a man exposed himself to her and then ran into the next car.

Professor Banks and the conductor discussed what to do, including whether to have the man arrested. The conductor suggested just letting him off at the next stop. And that set Professor Banks to thinking about the circumstances.

She and the man were black; the conductor was white. Would the conductor have treated the matter differently had she been white? What if the conductor had been black? And was the man mentally disturbed because, as a black man, society had pressed him too hard and provided too little help?

A relatively minor black-on-black crime, but of course it must be the white man’s fault.

Critical race theorists, who are on the faculty at almost every major law school and are producing an ever-growing body of scholarly work, have drawn from an idea made popular by postmodernist scholars of all races, that there is no objective reality.

No one in the world actually believes that there is no objective reality. To take one of countless illustrations, imagine that you bet with a friend on the outcome of the World Series. You win the bet and try to collect. Your friend tells you that there is no objective reality, and according to his “lived experience,” his team won the Series. There is no subculture in the world in which this works. When someone says there is no objective reality, what he means is that he intends to exercise power over you, and no facts or arguments you might present will dissuade him.

While they do not disapprove of integration that occurs naturally, critical race theorists reject the classic liberal view of integration as the ultimate goal. They deride the concept of a colorblind society.

This is the fundamental conflict, still. Should we disregard race as irrelevant, or should we permanently balkanize our society along racial lines and institutionalize racial preferences that favor one group (blacks, which is the only point) over all others?

One important battleground in critical race theory is the criminal justice system: Why, the theorists ask, are a disproportionate number of the men in America’s jails black? Many critical race theorists say it is because the system is infected with racism at every level, from prosecutors’ offices to judges’ chambers.

Physical descriptions of perpetrators by victims say the reason is that blacks commit a disproportionate number of crimes. That has been proved over and over, in every possible way. But, hey, that is just “objective reality.” We now begin to understand why CRT advocates are at war with the truth.

Back in 1997, the Times was willing to give equal time, and implicit approval, to a University of Minnesota law professor who took a dim view of CRT:

Critics of critical race theory, like Prof. Suzanna Sherry of the University of Minnesota law school, contend that it defies common sense and abandons intellectual principles in an effort to promote the political standing of blacks in society.

That sums it up very well.

”The problem with denying any objective reality,” she said, ”is that there is no way of mediating among the competing perceptions of reality except power. And what they ultimately want is more power for their perceptions.”

Bingo. CRT advocates want power. See, for example, H.R. 1, justified on the absurd (and racist) ground that blacks can’t figure out how to get a driver’s license or how to vote, but obviously intended to facilitate voter fraud so as to perpetuate the Democratic Party’s power.

There is much more, which you can read at the Unz link above. The notable point, I think, is that in 1997, the New York Times could run a balanced and, on the whole, negative article on Critical Race Theory. That could never happen today. Why?

To be sure, the Times has gotten more radically left-wing in the last 25 years. But I think the more salient point is that in 1997, the Democratic Party had not yet adopted CRT and, in fact, was broadly suspicious of it. That is what has changed. Today, the Democratic Party is all-in for CRT. Times reporters and editors, slavish followers of the Democratic Party Line, can only comply. So if you want to read intelligent discussion of CRT, you will have to go somewhere else.