How CRT led to Kendi

I want to draw attention to Aaron Sibarium’s superb Washington Free Beacon column “How Critical Race Theory Led to Kendi.” It actually illuminates the phenomenon of CRT as we find it manifested everywhere in our institutions. Christopher Rufo has doggedly documented the metastasis of this cancer (the link is to Rufo’s City Journal columns).

Sibarium’s column struck a personal chord with me. He links to and quotes from Alan Freeman’s 1978 Minnesota Law Review article “Legitimizing Racial Discrimination through Antidiscrimination law: A Critical Review of Supreme Court Doctrine.” My last semester in law school I was a student in Professor Freeman’s Civil Rights course.

I had been hired to clerk for Eighth Circuit Judge Myron Bright after graduation. Judge Bright asked me to take the course in federal civil rights law because civil rights cases were to be among my primary responsibility in my work for him.

Professor Freeman was an early proponent of Critical Legal Studies and its CRT variant. He was a frank Marxist and persistent critic of Supreme Court jurisprudence that he asserted gave with one hand what it took away with the other. He taught all the leading cases interpreting 42 U.S.C section 1983 and the related Eleventh Amendment jurisprudence — the Supreme Court had just decided the Monell case — but this was perhaps the leading theme of the course.

His remarks in class prompted my interest in his utopia. One morning after class I asked him if he would join me for coffee in the Riverbend Cafeteria then adjacent to the law school. In the course of our somewhat stilted conversation I asked him what country he would hold out as his real-world model. He said with only slight hesitation: “North Korea.”

That was memorable. I certainly had no answer to it. I’ve thought about it a lot since CRT has emerged into national controversy. Professor Freeman, by the way, moved on to Buffalo Law School and died way too young at the age of 51.

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