Wealth & Poverty Review Against Wokeness

Conservatives must understand the threat posed by critical race theory. Originally published at City Journal

President Trump recently issued an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from using “critical race theory” as part of their personnel-training programs. The president acted in response to my reporting exposing the use of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” training courses in federal agencies. These programs, based on a neo-Marxist ideology that originated in law schools a generation ago, purport to expose and correct “unconscious racial bias” and “white privilege” among their employees. Critical race theory treats “whiteness” as a moral blight and maligns all members of that racial group as complicit in oppression. Critical race theory now forms the basis of personnel-training programs around the country, from corporate America and universities to churches and nonprofits.

The racial narrative that underlies these initiatives poses a grave threat to the ideal of colorblind justice under the law enshrined in the American constitutional system. Yet, despite its growing reach and cultural influence, and its role in motivating the Black Lives Matter and Antifa-led riots over the last three months, critical race theory has gone largely unchallenged by conservative leaders. Many have been slow to oppose the radical demands of groups such as BLM, either out of fear of being labelled racists or because of ignorance about the ideological agenda of these groups. Instead, conservatives have continued to “fight the last war” against the familiar enemies of cultural relativism or tax-and-spend liberalism, not recognizing that a new, virulent form of radicalism now animates the American Left.

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Christopher Rufo

Former Director, Center on Wealth & Poverty
Christopher Rufo is former director of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty. He has directed four documentaries for PBS, Netflix, and international television, including his latest film, America Lost, that tells the story of three "forgotten American cities.” Christopher is currently a contributing editor of City Journal, where he covers poverty, homelessness, addiction, crime, and other afflictions. Christopher is a magna cum laude graduate of Georgetown University, Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellow, and has appeared on NPR, CNN, ABC, CBS, HLN, and FOX News.