Non-Critical Race theory
The war against merit is gaining ground
Critical race theory (CRT) rejects the principle of equal opportunity. Supporters of CRT contend equal opportunity is a myth, not a reality, and that those who pursue equal opportunity are terribly misguided. After all, they say, the civil rights movement yielded only “symbolic” gains for black Americans, but left their economic conditions virtually unchanged.
“The only cure for past discrimination is current discrimination,” says Ibram X. Kendi, one of the advocates of CRT, and “the only remedy for current discrimination is future discrimination.” It was the late Alan David Freeman, one of the authors of CRT, who explained why we must end the merit system in America. He argued that there should be an “all-out assault on meritocratic pretenses” and that this would mean a “thoroughgoing scrutiny of the ideology of meritocracy, of ability, of quality, all of which I believe are basically class-loaded concepts that parade themselves as criteria of objective quality, when in fact they are instruments of class domination.”
But wait a minute here. Isn’t America built around the shared values and aspirations of the merit system? Don’t we recognize people based on their achievements or their abilities? Or hiring the best person for the job? Of course, it is. And it’s precisely the reason why America is so racist and unjust, according to CRT, and why eliminating meritocracy altogether is necessary.
It’s unjust, they argue, to require people meet a set of arbitrary standards to climb the social, political and economic ladder – and that the merit system unfairly privileges the rich and well-connected.
In an article published by Princeton University Press, author Clifton Mark explains, “The belief that merit rather than luck determines success or failure in the world is demonstrably false. This is not least because merit itself is, in large part, the result of luck. Talent and the capacity for determined effort, sometimes called ‘grit,’ depend a great deal on one’s genetic endowments and upbringing.”
You may be shaking your head by now, saying, “This is too much.” But if you think this is all empty rhetoric, think again. The war being waged against merit is gaining ground. Programs for the gifted and talented are being dismantled across the country. Universities have been reducing the importance of standardized admissions tests and putting more emphasis on “holistic assessment” instead.
Companies are hiring based on quotas (not talent) and in the name of “equity” (sexual orientation, race, wokeness). President Biden is even proposing to abolish credit scores for individuals and establishing a publicly run credit reporting agency that won’t perpetuate damaging “racial disparities” (since low credit scores apparently only discriminate against low-income people of color).
Who among us would feel comfortable flying with a pilot who had been chosen by committee or a lottery, rather than training and experience? Do we really want a society where individual abilities are secondary to your sexual orientation or the color of your skin, or where achievement is attributed to luck and not effort?
None of this has worked out well for countries that have dismantled or otherwise resisted meritocracy. Greece has struggled for decades – up to a quarter of the total population has been out of work at some point over the past decade. Italy has been stagnating since the mid-1990s. Portugal, Spain, the list goes on and on.
One country not on that list? China. They are seemingly embracing meritocracy (even though they are far being such). Children compete to get into the best nursery schools. The university entrance exams in China evaluate knowledge – not squishy wokeness.
And although meritocracy is hardly reflected by President Xi Jinping appointing himself president for life in 2018, China understands the causal relationship between political meritocracy and growth, while the U.S. is retreating from it.
This is why we must begin supporting what I call “Non-Critical Race Theory,” which is the idea that people should generally disregard one another’s skin color so that they might not be “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” That was Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, but it was also true when it was written into our Declaration of Independence.
You see, what proponents of CRT, or those seeking to dismantle meritocracy altogether, fail to understand is that the very founding of this country was rooted in upending any system that unfairly privileged the rich and wellconnected. After all, America was founded upon an idea that “all men are created equal.” We were the first country established, not by ethnicity or conquest, but by a philosophy. Our founding fathers were way ahead of the woke today.
America was, and is, built around the shared values and aspirations of opportunity and merit. If that’s not good enough for you, what’s your alternative? A society based solely on luck, or the benevolence of our elected officers, or the generosity of the elites?
Or should our lives be arranged so everybody will end at the finish line at the same time, instead of just making sure everyone begins at the starting line at the same time?
You only need to look at societies like China and Russia, where equality of outcomes has been their basic goal, to answer that questions, and you’ll see the tyranny foisted upon their people in the absence of putting freedom above all else.
So, if liberty is embodied in the creed, “all men are created equal,” does that likewise mean that we shall all be kept equal? Can we remain a free people if we guarantee equal outcomes for all?
If not, how “critical” can this supposed “race theory” be?
Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.