The culture war has been one of the most often discussed topics in the conservative movement. Many have expressed frustration at the apparent inability of the Republican Party to garner more influence in the culture, which has led to a continual decline of conservative values in American society.
The root of the issue can be attributed to the party’s tendency to constantly act as the party of opposition, offering only criticism of the left’s policies without putting forth its own solutions to compete on the battlefield of ideas. This largely reactionary inclination can be seen in the current debate over critical race theory.
The Battle Over Critical Race Theory
Conservatives celebrated after states like Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Idaho, and several others introduced legislation to ban critical race theory in their schools. Amid widespread criticism from Democrats and media activist outlets, Republican leaders and influencers lauded the moves, touting the trend as a victory against the spread of the hard left’s latest attempt to fight racism with more racism.
But will this be a true victory? While they may have succeeded in banning critical race theory in school for now, they will not have defeated the idea in the culture, meaning it will only be a matter of time before the hard left manages to persuade a large enough number of Americans to mandate its inclusion in the education system.
Preventing the widespread acceptance of critical race theory will require more than pushing for bans. It is not enough to rely on the government to suppress problematic ideas. Moreover, simply criticizing the proposition and exposing its flaws is also not sufficient. To win this battle, conservatives will have to do more.
How to Defeat Critical Race Theory
If the conservative movement wishes to combat critical race theory effectively, it must move from being the opposition to becoming the competition. Instead of only criticizing the left’s idea, it must offer a competing solution that Americans should support in addressing race-related issues.
Up to this point, the right has mistakenly taken the position that racial disparities and government policies designed to create these problems have a negligible impact on the black community. In so doing, they have refused to engage in conversations on race in America, thereby surrendering to the left, which has happily taken full advantage of that dominance on these cultural issues.
Instead of pretending that issues involving racism are almost nonexistent, it would make more sense to address the problems head-on. This does not mean that conservatives need to adopt the hysterical tone that the left has taken. Indeed, the reality that so-called progressives exaggerate the impact of racism to spark fear, animosity, and division between Americans provides the right with an opportunity to act as the adults in the room and push conservative solutions to these problems.
The conservatives must develop their own remedies to the difficulties many African Americans face due to governmental “help” or champion ideas already created by others. One such example would be the Theory of Enchantment, which was created by entrepreneur Chloé Valdary, who has vocally criticized critical race theory and its adherents.
At a time when diversity training has become its own industry, Valdary is providing an anti-racism program designed to promote love and acceptance rather than guilt and division. Her theory is based upon three principles:
“Treat people like human beings, not political abstractions.
Criticize to uplift and empower, never to tear down, never to destroy.
Root everything you do in love and compassion.”
Valdary has taught her program to several different organizations in several countries. Her philosophy centers not just on interpersonal relationships but on valuing themselves. On Twitter, she noted: “A person cannot love another human being or treat another human being with the dignity they deserve if they do not love themselves,” which was a reference to a statement made by author and activist James Baldwin in his book The Fire Next Time.
The Atlantic noted: “Valdary believes that the same logic applies to people of all races, and she never segregates her students, as some DEI courses do, because ‘we all deal with insecurities.’ When humans handle insecurity poorly, she says, it fuels self-contempt––and overcompensation for self-contempt fuels extremist ideologies, including racism.”
The entrepreneur seeks to address racism by focusing on areas of commonality between everyday people. On Twitter, she explained that “you will be able to develop a capacity for empathy,” and that “you will naturally want to create inclusive spaces, because the lens through which you see the world will be driven by openness, not by fear or cynicism.”
“The problem with critical race theory is much deeper than that, though,” Valdary wrote for Newsweek. “It stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the complexities of our social and political realities, reducing them to a single factor: racism. But when it comes to how race and power intersect, black history is far, far richer than critical race theorists allow.”
The Conservative Movement Is at a Crossroads
Chloé Valdary managed to create an alternative idea to what adherents of critical race theory have put forward. When Americans have more than one idea from which to choose, it increases the likelihood that the hard left’s arguments will be repudiated. Conservatives don’t necessarily need to adopt Valdary’s ideas, but they cannot afford not to come up with another solution.
Proponents of free speech insist that the best way to beat problematic ideas is by using better ideas. Focusing primarily on pointing out the issues with critical race theory is not a sound idea. Instead of constantly being the opposition, conservatives must start being the competition. Otherwise, pernicious ideas like critical race theory will eventually win out.
Read more from Jeff Charles.
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