Skip to main content

Yes, You are Promoting Critical Race Theory


My last post was inspired by a common defensive retort I've heard Social Justicians make when their "work" is correctly identified as promoting Critical Race Theory. The retort claims that Christians are incorrectly identifying the "work of 'social justice' as promoting Critical Race Theory," and are doing so in order to avoid dealing with the real problem - social injustice, as they perceive it. My goal in that post was to demonstrate that those who promote "social justice" are actually promoting the philosophical concepts and practices of French postmodernist philosopher Michel Foucault, as his thinking has been very influential among, albeit somewhat retooled by, Critical Race Theorists.

In this post, however, my goal is to address the logical errors inherent to the retort, and refute the idea that Christians are using the issue of "Critical Race Theory" as a red herring, a distraction from the "social injustices" spoken about and addressed by "Social Justice" advocates. The accusation regarding the function of our claim that "social justice" advocates (hereafter, SJAs) are promoting Critical Race Theory is false, as is the claim that we are making the claim because we have immoral motives.

Those who make the retort must repent of their slander, and return to Christ; or else cease from claiming they are children of God.

Let's begin.

The Retort and Its Logical Fallacies

1. Circumstantial Ad Hominem

If you haven't heard the common retort today from social justice advocates (SJAs), it is something along the following lines -

"We are not promoting Critical Race Theory! You are only saying that we are pushing Critical Race Theory because you want to change the subject in order to deflect from the real issues at hand - social injustices like systemic racism!"

This, to put it kindly, is a logical disaster. Firstly, it is a textbook example of what is called the circumstantial ad hominem fallacy. As one site helpfully explains -

Circumstantial ad hominem occurs when someone argues that their opponent’s argument must be invalid because his or her position is predisposed by their personal circumstances.

When we argue that "social justice advocacy" is critical race theory in action, we are implying that it is false. So the SJAs'  retort can be rephrased, in order to reveal the fallacy at work here, as follows - 

"You are only saying that your claims about our work are true because it serves your best interest in this debate to do so. You'll distract people from the real issues, like systemic racism!"

One's motives to affirm or reject a claim do not render the arguments they use in their attempt valid or invalid, sound or unsound. Even if we had bad motives, it is our argumentation that must be scrutinized and shown to be problematic, fallacious, etc.

2. Begging the Question

Secondly, the retort is also an example of begging the question, seeing as our claim that SJAs are promoting Critical Race Theory when they promote social justice activism rather transparently rejects the SJAs' belief that things like "systemic racism" are the "real" issues. Claiming that we are trying to deflect from the real issues of "social injustices like systemic racism" presupposes the truth of the very thing we are challenging - the philosophical beliefs that must be held in order for one to even be able to speak about "systemic racism" or "social justice" as the SJAs do.

Refuting the Retort's Main Justification

As you can imagine, there are different reasons why SJAs believe their retort is justified. One of the most common reasons is that there are explicit terminological differences between Critical Race Theorists and SJAs. Since CRT concepts are not being explicitly spelled out  by SJAs, they argue, it is clear that SJAs are not promoting Critical Race Theory. This, however, is yet another fallacy, known as the word-concept fallacy. From the absence of CRT terminology among SJAs it does not follow that CRT concepts are not present in their thinking, speaking, and activism.

If one were to go from door to door, dressed in a three piece suit, carrying an attache filled with Awake! magazines, and asking people if they wanted to live forever in Jehovah's coming New Heavens and Earth, it would not be incorrect to say that he is promoting the teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses. If he were to retort by saying "I AM NOT a Jehovah's Witness. I don't even know what Jehovah's Witnesses are, or what they believe!," assuming that he is being honest, he would be correct. However, this would not absolve him of the charge of spreading the teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses, seeing as he is still promoting teaching that is, in the main, identical to theirs.

Now, some individuals might argue in the above way because they aren't aware of logical equivalence. When two propositions (statements/assertions) are logically equivalent this means that they have the same meaning, irrespective of their grammatical and verbal differences (for more on this subject, see Sec. 3.3 of Stanford University's Introduction to Logic, here). 

Other individuals, however, argue in the above manner in order to purposefully confuse their objectors. They are gaslighting their objectors by means of nitpicking and hairsplitting. Rather than acknowledging their acceptance of, say, key Marxist beliefs about anthroplogy and economics, they draw attention to details of Marx's philosophy that they vociferously reject.

Final Practical Remarks

The end result of the SJAs' hairsplitting and nitpickery is confusion in the mind of their objectors. Naïve, unlearned, and overly sensitive believers may fall prey to this, so we ought to inform them not merely of what they will face in the SJAs' retort, but also of what the Scriptures teach about morality. If our brothers don't understand that they are absolutely free to restate their opponents' position in different words, and summarize their opponents' beliefs according to how much they share in common with another set of beliefs, then they will fall for what I've elsewhere called the "Nobody Understands Me Fallacy" (see here). If our brothers don't understand that we ought to obey God rather than men, and that SJAs' beliefs contradict God's character, as revealed in his Law, then they will likely feel guilty for not entertaining the foolish and wicked beliefs of the SJAs. This is because they will accept the SJAs' claims that some action or another is sinful, when those actions are actually not sinful.

In other words, we need to be well versed in systematic theology, and prepared to help our family in Christ grow in their understanding of systematic theology as well. Doing this will help us understand what Scripture teaches about the nature of man, his responsibility before God, and his responsibilities to others, and by so doing avoid the condemnation of SJAs falsely claiming they have been sinned against because they have, correctly, been identified as wolves in sheep's clothing promoting Critical Race Theory.

[N.B. If you want a very good and widely accessible book on Social Justice, Critical Race Theory and how and why it is infiltrating professedly evangelical churches, check out Jon Harris' book "Social Justice Goes to Church: The New Left in Modern Evangelicalism."]