The state of New Hampshire is trying to advance a bill in its state house of representatives (HB544) that mirrors the executive order President Trump issued “against Critical Race Theory,” which is to say against the divisive (and racist/neoracist) tenets at the heart of Critical Race Theory and so-called “diversity” training sessions based upon it. After testifying in support of the bill in a legislative committee meeting on February 18 (in which sitting state representative Kris Schultz slandered me), I have followed up with the legislative committee this week by sending the following letter urging positive endorsement and support for the bill as it hopefully makes its way to the New Hampshire House floor. Because I think it might be instructive for other people to see what I wrote, the letter I sent is reproduced below (correcting a typo or two from the original). I encourage other people to follow suit in their own states, urging similar legislation or executive action and then showing up to testify and sending letters of support and encouragement.
To whom it may concern,
I am writing as an expert and concerned American, though not a New Hampshire citizen, in unequivocal support of HB544 which bans the teaching of certain divisive tenets as though they are fact. I also testified in the committee hearing as an expert on Critical Race Theory, against which this bill is ultimately based, on February 18 of this year. Please give this important, necessary bill your full-throated endorsement and a positive recommendation.
I don’t know that this is the time for lengthy written testimony, so I’ll try to keep my remarks brief. The bill being proposed, it should immediately be noted, bans not only the divisive tenets that stem from the Critical Race Theory worldview and its related activism, which is very aggressive and very interested in achieving dominance in our schools, workplaces, and lives, but it also bans trainings and uncritical teaching of what would be the more commonly understood forms of unacceptable bias, behavior, and ideology, including both white supremacy and patriarchy. It prohibits recipients of state funding from the same things the Civil Rights Acts and the Fourteenth Amendment are already supposed to protect against, although these are failing. Namely, the bill would prohibit teaching as uncontested fact or mandating training in racial and sex stereotyping, scapegoating, and discrimination, as well as positioning the state, institutions, etc., as intrinsically racist in a “systemic” way, which has allowed them thus far to avoid being found in violation of either the Civil Rights Acts or Fourteenth Amendment despite openly and explicitly advocating, in the words of the theorist Ibram X. Kendi, “present discrimination,” which is billed as a necessary remedy to past discrimination. While someone might argue that this bill is unnecessary because of the Civil Rights Act, in practice this has not been borne out, making a bill like this more necessary than not. Every American, and every New Hampshire citizen, should not want discrimination, stereotyping, and scapegoating to be a part of their workplace training modules or children’s education. This bill helps support that fundamentally equal and fair treatment before the law, which is currently at risk.
It should also be noted that this bill has First Amendment relevance as well, and not in the way its opponents would explain. The essence of the First Amendment is that people have freedom of conscience, particularly with regard to matters of spiritual belief, and freedom of speech, such that the state can neither compel nor restrict speech. Opponents of this bill will say that the bill seeks to restrict speech, but this is not true. It explicitly leaves provision for workplace trainings and education that don’t teach these already-illegal tenets as uncontested fact. Moreover, the situation is quite the opposite to that portrayed by the opponents to the bill who oppose it on free-speech grounds. These workplace trainings and educational programs violate for very many people both freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. Their freedom of speech is violated by compelling them to admit to complicity in racism and sexism, among other social violations that are unlikely to be true. It also compels them to adopt a particular approach to anti-racism and anti-sexism that is very narrow and to speak on its behalf. This latter example, then, not only violates freedom of speech but also the freedom of conscience implied by both the free-exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment. It is not the state’s place to be dictating (or funding the dictators of) how one is to feel about the issue of racism and sexism. Citizens, the overwhelming majority of whom firmly reject racism and sexism, should be granted the freedom of conscience to oppose those on terms they find recognizable, which in a free, liberal country like the United States will mostly likely be rooted in equality, colorblindness, individualism, and universal humanity, which are solidly American values. They may also do so from Judeo-Christian principles, for example the famous injunction from Paul that in Christianity there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free,” etc. They should not be compelled to do so in the terms most often employed by so-called “anti-racist,” “diversity,” “racial sensitivity,” and “culturally responsive” programs today, which are a specific ideology known as Critical Theory, which explicitly rejects virtually all of these values for others, sometimes termed “liberationist” and at other times rightly labeled “neo-Marxist,” including in the words of the activists pushings these programs themselves. While the law may not bear out today that these trainings and pedagogical pursuits violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as existing Civil Rights legislation, it is likely that they will eventually. It is therefore better to get on the right side of this issue now and take proactive steps to strengthen a legal architecture that is failing citizens in their most fundamental rights.
For the sake of brevity, I will not elaborate at length on the theory underlying the overwhelming bulk of these trainings and relevant school curricula, which is Critical Race Theory, the same (neo-Marxist) Critical Theory mentioned above specifically made to take race as a category of difference upon which Marxian conflict theory (oppressors versus oppressed) is to be applied. I will simply remind the committee that in addition to this theory being one among many approaches to the issue of race and racism, it is one that is rooted specifically in making precisely the same mistake that made racism the problem it has been throughout our history as a nation, which is specifically placing social significance into racial categories and considering that significance determinant and in some ways relevant to one’s social standing and access to power. This was a horrific thing to have done in the 16th century going forward, and it’s no better to do in the 21st century. It didn’t work out then, and it won’t work out now, unless one’s goal is to effect an American Cultural Revolution in mirror image to the one Mao perpetrated on China in the 1960s-1970s, which (as few people know) used many of the same arguments and ideas about race, applied to the Han Chinese race instead of “whiteness.”
Critical Race Theory begins from the assumption, in its own words, that racism is the normal state of affairs of society, changing the question from “did racism take place?” to “how did racism manifest in that situation?” (for racism is assumed to be relevant to every situation), and it calls into question “the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and the neutral principles of constitutional law.” That is, it is presumptive, divisive, and explicitly un-American, if not anti-American. Moreover, it is designed not to be able to be disagreed with, as all disagreement is framed as some variation of racial “fragility” or “privilege-preserving epistemic pushback,” which is to say a cynical drive to maintain one’s social dominance, not legitimate criticism of the genuinely bad arguments and cynical assumptions put forth by the theory itself. Because it cannot be disagreed with without accusations of bad intentions and motivations, it is divisive and very difficult to uproot once installed. Because it believes “there is no neutral” between “dominance” and “oppression” (Marxian conflict theory), it is again divisive and in fact polarizing. Because its issues are so sensitive and because it addresses them in such an accusatory way (everyone who doesn’t agree with it is racist and white supremacist), it diverts incredible volumes of resources to dividing and polarizing every environment it can gain a foothold in. HB544 exists to minimize that destructive influence and colossal waste of (taxpayer-funded) resources. Even worse, not only is there no evidence supporting the application of this theory, there is evidence against its claims that it can generate that which it claims to generate, so it tears apart organizations and poisons minds (including those of children) with its divisive tenets while profiting off a fraudulent enterprise that robs the taxpayers while destroying their communities.
On these grounds, and possibly hundreds of pages more that I could write if needed, I again urge you in the strongest possible way to support and recommend HB544 as a step in the right direction, away from these divisive teachings and in support of the fundamental inalienable rights this country has always recognized and strived to extend to all citizens, even the allegedly privileged ones. This bill is important for New Hampshire, and it sends a message to America, whose federal government has just unambiguously signaled it wants to take us in the opposite direction by rescinding a similar federal executive order. That opposite direction is back into racial and sex discrimination, stereotyping, and scapegoating, and its into things America has never been and has never been willing to become, namely whatever it is that Critical Theory (i.e., neo-Marxism) aims to make of it.
James Lindsay, Ph.D.
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