American universities have a duty to resist CRT and DEI

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The American university is just one of a growing list of cherished American institutions being victimized by a pervasive “woke” agenda which pushes Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) on campus, in the workplace and in board rooms. On its own terms, the philosophy of CRT flies in the face of what a university is meant to be. In practice, CRT/DEI rejects the notion of ultimate Truth, and in doing so, dilutes academic rigor, chokes intellectual freedom and actively promotes distrust and fragmentation among communities.

Khiara Bridges, in her book “Critical Race Theory: A Primer,” preaches four fundamental tenets of CRT: (1) Race is a social construction, (2) racism is a normal feature of American society , (3) traditional liberal understandings of racism must be rejected, and, most tellingly, (4) “CRT believes that all knowledge is political. It believes that scholarship that ignores race is not demonstrating ‘objectivity’ or ‘neutrality.’”

In CRT/DEI terms, scholarship is valuable only insofar as it presents itself through the lens of power dynamics and acknowledges the omnipresence of oppression. Since the primary modes of oppression in effect today are systemic racism, sexism and heteronormativity, the value of intellectual content is determined by the degree to which the subject accepts the relative status of his or her racial or sexual class within the framework of oppression.

In other words, the value of thought only begins where your skin color or sexual preference ends. This sort of philosophy has given life to mangled and misguided conceptions of Truth, perhaps most dangerously in education.

In 2021, the Oregon Department of Education disseminated a toolkit on how to “dismantle racism in mathematics,” instructing educators to reject teaching methods which perpetuate “white supremacy”, including “the focus on getting the ‘right’ answer,” and the requirement that students show their work. The toolkit, entitled “Pathway to Math Equity Micro-Course,” teaches that “upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity and as well as fear of open conflict.” Bridges affirms this notion in her book, writing, “CRT tends to understand ‘neutrality’, ‘objectivity,’ and ‘reason,’ to be traps. They are excuses for maintaining the current maldistribution of racial power.” The commitment to truth or knowledge, in CRT, is a thinly disguised obsession with race, sex and power.

Equality as an ideal, then, isn’t with reference to something like shared human dignity or capacity for reason, but something nebulous and accidental, i.e. your skin color or gender. This understanding of equality results in a terrifying rationalization for discrimination.

Bridges insists that in order to achieve “substantive equality, there must be some dissimilar treatment of the dissimilarly situated individuals and groups in society.” The value of thought is relegated to whether or not you agree with CRT’s worldview and, by extension, Marxist metaphysics (or, rather, lack of any metaphysics), as well as unadulterated moral relativism.

This philosophy is completely antithetical to the proper understanding of a university. In “The Idea of a University,” St. John Henry Cardinal Newman writes that the name “University” denotes “a seat of universal learning” which is an assembly of learned people who, “zealous for their own sciences, and rivals of each other, are brought, by familiar intercourse and for the sake of intellectual peace, to adjust together the claims and relations of their respective subjects of investigation.”

The University is a competitive and diverse marketplace of ideas, radically open to discourse and debate, oriented towards Truth. Knowledge is an end in and of itself, bolstered and informed in part, of course, by lived experience and upbringing, but truly diverse only in virtue of its substance.

Everyone is equal in virtue of their relationship to our highest ideal, Truth, evidenced by the exercise of our highest capacity, reason. For Newman, the university is a place where there is only one orientation – to the Truth.

The idea that truth is indeterminate and morality is relative results in a tangled mess of competing truths and morals. Who is right? Who is racist? From the witch-hunt for Dr. Ilya Shapiro at Georgetown to Riley Gaines’ being attacked at San Francisco State University, the legacy of CRT and DEI has been Nazi-like in its ideological purges and Soviet-style in its intimidation of those who still adhere to what a university should stand for.

Thankfully, our small campus has so far resisted the goosestepping horde of the “woke”; true to our name, we are still committed to Wisdom, Truth, and Virtue. Dr. Sanford, in an interview with Catholic Answers this past January, stated that “the University of Dallas is the university of no compromises.” Dr. Sanford knows what time it is: do you?

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