On his first day in office, President Joe Biden rescinded the Trump administration’s executive order prohibiting critical race theory (CRT) training for federal agencies and federal contractors. This is a sad reversal for Americans committed to colorblindness in public life. But while the president’s order is binding at the federal level, state legislators still have a say in the matter. They should not shrink from resisting this pernicious philosophy.

Critical race theory understands the world by viewing everything—society, economics, education, family, science—through the lens of “whiteness” and white racism. White people, according to CRT, drift in a kind of amniotic fluid of privilege and unearned gifts based on the brutal ideology of “white supremacy.” Critical race theory includes values such as hard work, objectivity, deferred gratification, family, and respect for the written word as intrinsically racist, and claims that by “centering” these values American culture relentlessly suppresses black achievement while boosting white mediocrity into advancement. The “theory”—unfalsifiable because any argument against it can be dismissed as an expression of “white fragility”—demands that whites relinquish their unearned societal privilege and work to uproot racism from their own minds and from society at large.

CRT training sessions have become standard across academia, public education, corporate America, and government. Highly paid experts in indoctrination conduct multi-day seminars explaining how racist attitudes infect even the purest intentions, and why white employees are and will always be racist.

When they see it for what it really is, most Americans abhor critical race theory. Trump’s executive order declared that it would be “the policy of the United States not to promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in the Federal workforce . . . and not to allow grant funds to be used for these purposes.” It defined “race or sex stereotyping” as “ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of his race or sex.” It defines “race or sex scapegoating” as “assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex.”

President Biden’s reimposition of CRT training in the federal government is shameful. But it need not be the end of the story. Now is the time for governors and state legislators to step up—and to remember that these ideas don’t withstand scrutiny. In a state legislative committee hearing, the argument for colorblindness will always carry the day. As viewed through state and local media—where journalists are more likely to see their jobs as presenting both sides of controversies, rather than advancing the cause of social justice—the case against critical race theory will win hearts and minds.

To fight this battle at the state level is to win it—and to win it is to maintain a country founded on the ideal that all men are created equal. Not to fight this battle is to lose it—and to lose it is to concede that America should be a society that judges people based on the color of their skin, not the content of their character.

The only thing stopping state leaders is the political attacks sure to follow if they take a stand. If the past year provides any indication, CRT critics will be labeled by the national media and Twitter blue-checks as racists. After Trump defended—and Biden criticized—his executive order at the first presidential debate, NPR issued a “fact check” declaring: “Racial Sensitivity Training Is Not Racist.” It explained that “Racial sensitivity training, which addresses topics like white privilege and critical race theory, is aimed at creating inclusive workplaces for women and people of color.” Thus, only those harboring racial bias could oppose such efforts.

State leaders will have to decide whether imparting America’s principles to the next generation is worth the price of being excoriated on social media. If they decide that this is a price worth paying, they’ll pass laws prohibiting state and local government agencies, government contractors, and most importantly schools from using taxpayer money to indoctrinate adults and children into an ideology of racial and sexual scapegoating.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images


City Journal is a publication of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MI), a leading free-market think tank. Are you interested in supporting the magazine? As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, donations in support of MI and City Journal are fully tax-deductible as provided by law (EIN #13-2912529).

Further Reading

Up Next