Critical Race Theory: How to Be an Anti-Rationalist

By Phil Bair


September 15, 2020

Many conservatives are bewildered and befuddled by the apparent intellectual incoherence of the left. But if we really understand Marxism beyond the superficial levels we often see in the blogosphere and social media, all the bewilderment disappears.

We think on the basis of the linear classical method of logical development. In other words, we follow the fundamental laws of logic. For us, truth is therefore an objective metaphysical reality independent of the material world, and independent of who believes it and who doesn’t.

Marxism does not share this approach to truth and rationality. Marxists “think” on the basis of the dialectic method articulated by German philosopher GWF Hegel, not the linear analytic method codified by Aristotle and beautifully articulated as the divine Logos of John chapter 1 in the Bible. The Logos is both the reason of God and the persona of the Son of God. The truth is both rational and personal: the Logos became flesh and lived among us. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The reason of God is what we invoke to conduct a rational analysis of philosophy, theology, and the nature of our modern ideological landscape. It is the process of rational thought derived from our ability to think on the basis of God’s rules given to us because we are made in his image.

For the Marxist, on the other hand, “reason” is purpose-driven activism, not logical analysis or detached critical thinking. “Truth” for a Marxist is the realization of revolution, not an analytic property of abstract propositions.

The dialectic method of the Marxists is ultimately irrational when seen from the traditional Western (and Biblical) angle, which is the valid approach that matches reality. This irrationality is what fuels the subsequent corrosion of the leftist intellect. Nowhere is this intellectual dysfunction more obvious (or more humorous) than in the fact that Karl Marx, the “thinker” on whose ideology critical race theory is based, was a raging anti-black racist. Marx’s contempt and hatred of blacks has few rivals in human history. Think about that for a while. 

That’s what we are dealing with when it comes to left-wing sophistry—which is enshrined in the Democratic Party, critical theory, and critical race theory.

The third item in the list above is the focus of this essay. A book will be forthcoming from me and others on this topic and on the greater threat of neo-Marxism in general. What we discuss here will barely scratch the surface. But that doesn’t mean we can’t focus on some of the most important aspects of this movement and therefore be motivated to begin to marshal a defense against it. 

Critical race theory is a branch of critical theory, and possesses all the properties and characteristics of critical theory itself. Critical theory is a methodology for destabilizing and deconstructing Western culture and its institutions so that a new society can be built on the ashes of the old. Critical race theory carries on this tradition by focusing on one singular category of social theory: racism.

Two volumes from critical race theorists stand out as high profile exemplars of their methodology: Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado, and How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi.

We will consider some of the key concepts both of these works articulate and put them to the test of rationality (real rationality) so that the uninitiated can gain a proper understanding of just how irrational and corrosive this methodology is. 

The first order of business in understanding critical race theory is to observe that it is not a set of abstract concepts that have no impact on the real world. Despite the word “theory,” it is very much a matter of practice, which is why I call it a methodology rather than a worldview or an ideology. Richard Delgado wrote, 

Unlike some academic disciplines, critical race theory contains an activist dimension. It tries not only to understand our social situation but to change it, setting out not only to ascertain how society organizes itself along racial lines and hierarchies but to transform it for the better. (Richard Delgado, Critical Race Theory: an Introduction, 2017, p. 8; emphasis mine)

This follows the contours of critical theory as George Lukacs rendered it 100 years ago in his 1923 volume History and Class Consciousness:

In all metaphysics the object remains untouched and unaltered so that thought remains contemplative and fails to become practical; while for the dialectical method the central problem is to change reality. (p. 9; emphasis in the original)

As I have already observed, the neo-Marxist definition of “reason” is purpose-driven activism—designed to deconstruct the old social order and replace it with a new vision for society. If the critical theoretician’s approach does not automatically translate into social change by virtue of its very nature, it is no longer considered rational. 

This stands in contrast, as Lukacs pointed out, to classical metaphysics where the “object [e.g. the prevailing social order] remains untouched and unaltered.” This does not mean that the classical theoretician’s ideology never translates into social change or cultural reform. The social response of the theorist is rather based on conviction and motivated by sound principles of justice and compassion. The idea that classical social theory is of no value in facilitating cultural reform is a common fallacy CRT activists commit on a routine basis. This fallacy is essential, however, for their framework to remain intact. 

Delgado continues:

First, racism is ordinary, not aberrational— “normal science,” the usual way society does business, the common, every-day experience of most people of color in this country. Second, most would agree that our system of white-over-color ascendancy serves important purposes, both psychic and material, for the dominant group. The first feature, ordinariness, means that racism is difficult to address or cure because it is not acknowledged. (CRT, p. 8)

Racism, for the CRT disciples, is built in to our day to day experience and activities. Not a day goes by that people of color do not have some “experience” of racism. Presumably this is true whether people of color are aware of that “experience” or not. Racism is everywhere: it’s in the air, it’s in the water, it’s in our offices and churches and shopping malls. It is impossible to look in any direction without racism being in your field of view. It is impossible to carry on our every-day activities without racism saturating our entire sphere of life. 

Delgado tells us our “system” (which is intrinsically racist) “serves important purposes” for the dominant group (whites). Of course, whether the system serves important purposes presupposes it’s racist and that it exhibits these properties for this reason. If the claim that racism permeates the system has no empirical support, then whether it serves any purposes, important or not, is irrelevant. Further, even if the system serves various observable purposes, it does not follow that racism is the cause or the motivation behind them.

These are clear examples of how Marxist theory inhibits rational thought in the classical sense. Fallacies like this, combined with the incessant propensity for adopting false ideas based on a vacuum of empirical evidence, lead to a detachment from objective reality (another racist idea according to critical theorists) and therefore a severe negation of intelligence. We should recognize at this point that critical theorists aren’t ultimately concerned about intelligence. They care about the potency of their social theory in pulverizing Western culture, not whether it’s coherent, valid, or true.

Critical race theory tells us that all white people are racist, that racism is baked in to Western cultural institutions, including religion, education, music, literature, and cinema, that whites are unaware of their innate racism, that they will become defensive if you confront them on this issue (see White Fragility), and that all whites are incorrigibly guilty of the racism that has existed throughout history, even though they weren’t even alive during any of those periods. White people truly have supernatural powers. 

One of the central concepts in Marxist theory is that all people reflect the attributes of their class rather than having any individual character or moral integrity of their own. If the class to which you belong is racist, you are a racist by definition and by default. There will be no discussion. When racism is derived from your class, it will be embedded in your thought processes and social structures (which are formed by those classes). Delgado:

But if racism is embedded in our thought processes and social structures as deeply as many crits believe, then the “ordinary business” of society—the routines, practices, and institutions that we rely on to do the world’s work—will keep minorities in subordinate positions. (CRT, p. 27)

This is a clear exposition on class oppression as Marx articulated it, as did the scholars of the Frankfurt School. This illustrates how critical race theory carries on the traditions of classical Marxism through cultural Marxism, and transmitted from critical theory in general. There is a unified class consciousness here that has been preserved and weaponized in a way that is more potent than ever before. One’s class is everything. The individual has no meaning and no significance. 

Herbert Marcuse was one of the central figures in the neo-Marxist movement beginning in the Frankfurt School and having spread to the United States to be headquartered at Columbia University. He writes: 

The class is the actual social and economic unit, not the individual. It achieves an independent existence over against the individuals, so that the latter find their conditions of existence predestined, and hence have their position in life and their personal development assigned to them by their class, and become subsumed under it. The ‘personal individual’ becomes a ‘class individual’ and his constituent properties become universal properties that he shares with all other members of his class. His existence is not his, but that of his class. (Herbert Marcuse, Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory, 1941, p. 295)

If you are white, you are a “class individual,” and there is no hope of transcending the racist attributes your class confers upon you. It is an incurable disease. You are completely incapable of becoming a non-racist. . . ever. It’s built into your class DNA, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The only option available to you is to become locked into a dismal personal struggle against your own pernicious nature for the rest of your pathetic life—truly a message of hope and liberation. 

The only good news that emerges from the gloom is that if you swear fealty to the “crits” (critical race theorists), and prostrate yourself before the holiness of the morally superior minorities you have been oppressing since the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, you could, if the gods of social justice deign to allow it, someday graduate to the status of an “anti-racist.” Forget ever being a “non-racist.” That’s out of the question. You never have been, and you never will be. You are guilty of keeping minorities in “subordinate positions” since before you were born, and you will be shown zero mercy for this capital transgression regardless of how much and how long you may plead for it. 

Kendi writes:

Racist ideas make people of color think less of themselves, which makes them more vulnerable to racist ideas. Racist ideas make White people think more of themselves, which further attracts them to racist ideas. This is the consistent function of racist ideas—and of any kind of bigotry more broadly: to manipulate us into seeing people as the problem, instead of the policies that ensnare them. When racist policies resound, denials that those policies are racist also follow. What’s the problem with being “not racist”? It is a claim that signifies neutrality: “I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism.” But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of “racist” isn’t “not racist.” It is “antiracist.” The claim of “not racist” neutrality is a mask for racism. (Ibram X Kendi, How to Be an Anti-Racist, 2019, pp. 7,10,11)

If Kendi were to reason in the classical sense, he would immediately realize that he is involved in a glaring false dichotomy. But he doesn’t reason in the classical sense. He is submerged in dialectical thinking. This is ironic if you have ever studied Hegel’s dialectic theory. Hegel would have synthesized the opposing ideas of racism and anti-racism. This illustrates how regardless of whether someone is committed to Hegel’s dialectic method, they are still made in God’s image—their minds still need to function as God has designed them. Though Kendi is inadvertently thinking in analytic terms, he nevertheless continues to stumble and fall over classic logical fallacies like the false dichotomy. He recognizes that being a non-racist is a logical possibility, but he suppresses this option out of desperate necessity. His only remaining choice is between committing a logical fallacy and watching his entire narrative fall apart. But since he is ostensibly committed to his incoherent dialectic, not only is he probably unaware that he is committing this kind of logical fallacy, he wouldn’t care even if he was. Preserving the anti-racist narrative is all that matters.

It gets worse. People often use the phrase “it begs the question” in popular culture. But Montoya would be the first to point out that that phrase doesn’t mean what they think it means. To “beg the question” in classical rational theory is a fallacy where you assume what you are trying to prove, and you assert your proposition without offering a speck of evidence to support it. When crits like Kendi speak of “racist policies,” they never feel the need to establish the existence of those policies and how they are racist. The problem gets even deeper when you watch Kendi and others like him attempt to “support” the existence of systemic racism by citing the litany of socio-economic disparities permeating our society. Thus they not only commit the fallacy of begging the question, they also commit the general fallacy of irrelevant conclusion which towers over it. To wit:

Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing. Here’s an example of racial inequity: 71 percent of White families lived in owner-occupied homes in 2014, compared to 45 percent of Latinx families and 41 percent of Black families. Racial equity is when two or more racial groups are standing on a relatively equal footing. An example of racial equity would be if there were relatively equitable percentages of all three racial groups living in owner-occupied homes in the forties, seventies, or, better, nineties. A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups. An antiracist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial equity between racial groups. By policy, I mean written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people. There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. (Kendi, p. 19)

All this “inequity” is presented as examples of racial bias and discrimination. Intelligent observers will easily see that “inequity” has more possible causes than we can count. I have said this over and over, but conservative voices who know something about how the socio-economic machine works are silenced, ignored, mocked, and ridiculed for daring to point out the obvious. 

This is typical. Absurd propositions must always rely on spurious “evidence” that doesn’t support the conclusions the sophist pretends it does. The intended target audience of these books will see a series of statistics like this and will assume without a second thought that they are valid and relevant. But it’s a scam. Even a mockery of empirical evidence has no relevance to those who have abandoned the rational principles that make it meaningful. The very terminology involved is misleading. What is called an inequity is really only a disparity. The former word is an emotionally charged question-begging epithet. The latter is useless, and doesn’t achieve the intended emotional or demagogic effect. The word “inequity” will induce the reader to react in horror since the word implies an injustice where none actually exists. If you were to substitute the word “inequity” with the word “disparity” in the above statements, the whole narrative would lose its luster.

Do crits offer any solutions to the alleged racial injustice they pretend saturates our society? Not really. Since they believe racism is baked into the white class, the only way to eradicate racism is to turn the guns of discrimination on the class from which it is allegedly derived. Kendi trumpets the true militant nature of his agenda by saying:

The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination. (p. 20)

Critical race theory is not interested in justice, equity, or fairness. The only interest is in taking the oppression of the oppressors and using it as a weapon against them. Discrimination has always been seen as a form of oppression. Kendi wants to discriminate against the alleged oppressors, which reduces him to a primitive tribal chief who uses the same weapons against his enemies that his enemies have supposedly used against him. So Kendi’s answer to oppression is reciprocal oppression. For him and others like him, oppression is evil only as long as the other tribe is guilty of it. This is a recurring theme in left-wing circles: if you think your enemy invokes underhanded tactics in their assault against you, whether they actually have or not, you are justified in using the same tactics against them, regardless of whether they are intrinsically moral. Kendi’s entire agenda is to adopt the very racism he claims fosters the “inequity” he so loudly condemns.

The problem with what I just said is that I’m reasoning on the basis of classical principles of logic. Since the crits don’t play by the same rules, all the astute analysis in the world is useless.

In the antebellum United States, slaves were considered non-persons, not human. When a certain class of people is considered non-human, there is no limit to the horror and atrocity that can be inflicted upon them. Consider critical race theorist Ashleigh Shackelford. She describes herself as a “black fat cultural producer, multidisciplinary artist, nonbinary shapeshifter, hood feminist, and data futurist.” In her critical race theory presentations, she tells her mostly white audience the following:

“All white people are racist. You’re always going to be racist, actually. White people are born into not being human. That’s what y’all are taught to do, to be demons.” 

I would be willing to bet real money that very few critical race theorists can comprehend that this is blistering racism. Not only is it racism, but it opens the door to the violence against white people we are seeing in our city streets. 

But again, the recognition that this is nothing more than another form of vile racism doesn’t matter to the critical race theorists. They are past the point of reason (in the real-world sense), and they are past the point of any inkling of racial reconciliation. Their agenda is not reconciliation, it is revolution. The words of Kyle Reese in The Terminator have never been more timely: 

“Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop until you are dead.”

The parallels are too accurate. Marxists, wielding the weapons of critical theory and critical race theory, can’t be bargained with or reasoned with. They don’t feel any empathy, despite the fact that empathy is one of their holy words. They do not fear any repercussions to the violence their BLM soldiers inflict on white people in the streets, since they know the police will do nothing to stop them. They don’t feel remorse, because they feel they are oppressed and the oppressors must pay for their alleged non-stop racist oppression of our culture. They have reached the point of no return, and they are out for blood. This may seem surreal to some of you reading this, but the only way anyone can deny it is if they haven’t paid attention to what is going on in our inner cities, or they are Democrats, or they are members of the mainstream media. 

Conservatives, who are the real anti-racists, find all this not only absurd, but appalling. I slogged through the sewage of books like Critical Race Theory, How to Be a Non-Racist, White Fragility, and others. But the material even in the introduction and first chapter in each case is so saturated with incoherent nonsense that it was hardly necessary to read the rest of the book. But I did anyway. Have you ever started a movie that was so incredibly stupid that you were tempted to turn it off? But if you’re like me, you keep watching, hoping it will redeem itself later and stave off your depressing regrets for wasting time you’ll never get back. It never does. 

Those of us who have studied Marxism and neo-Marxism for years are not at all surprised by this anti-rational claptrap. Ordinarily we would ignore puerile anti-intellectual garbage like this. But since it exerts such a powerful influence over the anti-rational masses who are the products of the Marxism-soaked public colleges and universities, we have no choice but to address it. This is especially true since critical race theory is only one tentacle of the larger threat of critical theory we face in our society. 

The crits are aware of the objections conservatives and other intelligent life on this planet have raised. Delgado again: 

Other conservatives have seized on President Barack Obama’s election to declare that America is now a post-racial society, so that it is time for blacks and other minorities to stop complaining and roll up their sleeves like anyone else. Welfare payments, they say, merely create dependency and idleness. Because most critical race theorists believe things are more complicated than that, many of them have stopped focusing on liberalism and its ills and have begun to address the conservative tide. (CRT, pp. 30-31)

Of course crits believe things are more complicated than that. They have to be. If they aren’t, they would have to pack up their things and go home. Game over. To preserve the sophistry of CRT is vital as long as their agenda is to vanquish the “oppressive” system and put themselves in absolute power over the rest of us as their totalitarian dreams depict. Equally unsurprising is that many crits feel they have to address the incipient “conservative tide” being mounted against it. We can only hope and pray that critical race theory drowns in the tide.


About the Author

By Phil Bair

Phil Bair studied philosophy, technology, earth sciences, and music theory at the University of Iowa, the University of Colorado, the National Institute of Technology, and Simpson College in Indianola Iowa. He has been dedicated to independent study and research for over thirty years in a variety of subject matter pertaining to the Christian world view. He has written several monographs on the relationship between theology and hope, being true to the Word of God, the creation/evolution controversy, and critiques of alternative spiritual doctrine and practices. He has written two books: From Rome To Galilee, an analysis of Roman Catholic theology and practice, and Deconstructing Junk Ideology - A Modern Christian Manifesto, a series of essays on the culture wars and applying Biblical principles to our socio-political landscape. He has delivered lectures, seminars, and workshops to churches and educational institutions on apologetics, textual criticism, creation science, ethics, critical thinking, the philosophy of science, understanding new age thought, and the defense of Christian theism, as well as current religious, philosophical, cultural, and political trends, with an emphasis on formulating a meaningful and coherent Christian response in those areas. His roles include author, speaker, Bible study leader, worship pastor, and director of contemporary music and worship for several evangelical churches. He has served as philosophy consultant and speaker for Rivendell, a cultural apologetics organization founded in Denver, Colorado and headquartered in Santa Barbara, California.