Critical Race Theory and Freudianism

These two concepts are rarely if ever mentioned together.  Yet they have more than just a little bit in common, none of it good.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) maintains that in all cases in which blacks fall behind whites (or Asians, who do not figure heavily in this theory), the causal agent is racism on the part of whites.  For example, blacks do poorly compared to whites with regard to employment, criminality, family formation, intelligence, wealth, income, health, and much more.

The cure?  Whites should abjure racism.  This is difficult, to say the least, insofar as CRT also maintains that to be white is to be a racist, per se.  It is highly problematic to expect white people to give up being white.

What of the arenas where blacks outstrip whites, such as basketball, football, jazz and rap music, track and field, marathon racing, gymnastics, etc.?  To be logically consistent (not a characteristic for which CRT is widely known), the explanation would have to be that racism on the part of blacks is responsible.  The solution?  Black people would have to abjure their racist practices; they cannot give up their skin color, either, so that would not be a solution.  Then whites would be able to catch up to blacks in all these dimensions of black superiority.  If you believe this, I don't know what to say.

What is Freudianism?  This is the theory that people's psychological debilities stem from childhood, particularly from their relationships with their mothers.  It employs a whole host of techniques to ward off psychoses and neuroses, including identification and analysis of the Id, the Ego, and the Superego; dream analyses; free association; and much more.

Let us now consider what Critical Race Theory and Freudianism have in common.

They are both closed systems, irrefutable under their own respective terms, no matter what evidence arises that might falsify their views.  Take Freudianism first.  If someone were to object to this entire enterprise, pointing out, perhaps, a low to non-existent cure rate, this would be rejected out of hand on the ground that the critic is exhibiting psychiatric debilitations in his rejection of this theory.  He is psychologically sick; otherwise, he would not be criticizing this perspective.

In like manner, if one were to reject CRT, one would be immediately labeled a racist in that milieu.  If a black person were guilty of taking such a position, he might be castigated as a "self-hater."  White people are beyond the pale, so to speak.  If they disagree with CRT, they would certainly be considered racists.  But even if they agreed, enthusiastically, and were thus considered "allies," the same conclusion would have to be drawn: skin color is all.

Should either of these two "disciplines" be taught at the university level?  (High school students are way too young and immature for either.)  There would appear to be no difficulty for Freudianism.  It has been a staple of psychology courses for almost a century and has created no discernible difficulties (although of late behavioral therapy has stolen a march on this viewpoint).

Matters are rather different with CRT.  On the one hand, university students are presumed able to deal with all sorts of difficult issues.  The presumption is that anything and everything should be grist for their mills.  This holds true even for theses that are objectively and patently false, such as phlogiston, Keynesianism, Lamarkianism, and Marxism — and, yes, CRT should be added to this list.  Young scholars at institutions of higher learning should become acquainted with both falsity and truthfulness.

However, there is a problem with CRT that does not arise with any of these other fallacious doctrines, including Freudianism.  In the view of practitioners of CRT, disagreement with any of their findings, premises, or theories constitutes violence.  Even silence about them is considered a violent, aggressive act.  Divergence from the niceties of CRT is akin to punch in the nose.  What response is justified?  Why, another punch in the nose!  In other words, a CRT professor would be entirely justified, at the very least, in squelching any and all disagreement with his viewpoint.

That is not exactly the manner in which civilized scientific discourse operates.  There, all viewpoints are on the table, even including rejections of CRT.

My conclusion is that CRT should indeed be taught at the college level, alongside many other fallacious doctrines, but if and only if its adherents eschew this pernicious aspect of their philosophy: that verbal disagreement with, or even silence about, their perspective is considered in effect a criminal act.

Image: JMacPherson via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

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