Last month, in an appearance at Columbia University, his alma mater, [Attorney General Eric] Holder made a jarring statement in support of racial preferences, saying he “can’t actually imagine a time in which the need for more diversity would ever cease.” “Affirmative action has been an issue since segregation practices,” he declared. “The question is not when does it end, but when does it begin. . . . When do people of color truly get the benefits to which they are entitled?”
John Fund, Infinite Affirmative Action, NRO, 6 March 2012
Where did that come from? We've had affirmative action for over sixty years. It has been, as Thomas Sowell points out here, here and here, largely ineffective and unintentionally damaging. It is, in today's America, as pointed out by Victor Davis Hanson, ludicrous as a means of supposedly redressing wrongs. And, as pointed out by former Senator Jim Webb, affirmative action is grossly unfair and wholly repugnant to the proposition of equality. So how and why can Holder possibly make such outrageous remarks?
As a threshold matter, not that Holder's remarks come on the heels of an expose from Breitbart.com showing a young Barry Obama hugging and promoting Dr. Derrick Bell, the creator of "critical race theory." It also comes on the heels of the revelation that Prof. Obama, teaching Constitutional Law at Univ. of Chicago law school, made Derrick Bell required reading for his class.
Promoting the canard of wide spread racism - and racial entitlement - in the U.S. is utterly central to the left's survival. It is a foundational source of votes, money and political patronage for the left. In the fantasy world painted by the left, it is always 1950 - with the important exception to historical reality being that it is the conservative right, not the Democrats, who are the font of the racism. If the edifice created by the left cracks, if they don't get 90% of the black vote in every election, the Democrats are in serious trouble.
In the near total absence of any overt racism today, the left last resort is to the claim that racism, even if not conscious, is none the less inherent and endemic. That is at the heart of the ludicrous theory of "color blind racism" now being expoused by the left. And it is at the heart of Derrick Bell's "critical race theory" (CRT). Both ultimately reject Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s call for equality of all races, arguing that because of permanent racism, blacks will always require special treatment. Skin color is not irrelevant to these people, rather it is the defining characteristic.
A description of Critical Race Theory was memorialized by now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in her notes from a 1993 lecture on the topic:
Pervasiveness of racism: First, CRT takes as a given -- as its first premise -- that racism infects every aspect of American law and American life. That racism is deep and pervasive -- some would go so far as to say inevitable and permanent.
"Neutral" law as mechanism of racial subordination: Second, CRT attempts to show that the claims of the legal system to neutrality, to impartiality, and to objectivity are false claims. CRT attempts to show that the law -- even when it seems neutral and even-handed -- in fact works in the interest of dominant groups in American society and particularly in the interest of dominant racial groups. CRT attempts to show that the so-called "logic of the law," that so-called "neutral principles" are a sort of cover for a deeply ingrained system of racial domination.
Critical of civil rights strategies: Third, CRT generally is extremely critical of the activity -- the strategy and even the goals -- of the traditional civil rights movement. The thinking here is that the traditional civil rights movement believed that all that needed to be done was to make the laws neutral-- to end legal segregation in the schools, for example -- in order to achieve racial equality in America. But such reforms, critical race theorists say, were ineffectual, and necessarily so -- because they ignored the way even neutral laws could effect racial subordination. In addition, it might be said that critical race theorists see the civil rights movement as too "reformist," too "gradualist," not sufficiently committed to the broad-scale social transformations necessary to achieve racial equality.
Insistence on incorporation of minority perspectives and use of stories: Fourth, and relatedly, critical race theory insists that the law --legal doctrines of all sorts -- be reformulated, fundamentally altered, to reflect and incorporate the perspectives and experiences of so-called "outsider groups," who have known racism and racial subordination at first hand. Critical race theorists often write not in traditional, lawyerly terms, but with parables, and stories, and dialogues. The thinking is that these techniques can better demonstrate the actual experiences of members of minority group -- experiences which should be accepted by and incorporated in the law. In addition, the decision to spurn traditional techniques of legal argument reflects the belief that these apparently neutral techniques are not neutral at all -- that they have been the means of promoting not some objective system of truth and justice, but instead a system based on racial power.
Finally, Kagan demonstrated that Derrick Bell is an "examplar" of critical race theory:
Derrick Bell as examplar:
Now Derrick Bell's writing illustrates each of these four aspects of critical race theory. He believes that racism is a pervasive-- and a permanent --aspect of American society. Read 1. He believes that the legal system is a means of promoting a system of racial subordination--even, or perhaps especially, when it makes claims to objectivity and neutrality. Read 2. He is deeply critical of the strategies and goals of the traditional civil rights movement--of which he used to be a part. And he insists that law must take into account the experiences of minorities, which he attempts to explicate through dialogues and stories.
Is anyone in the least surprised that the same man who was BFF with unrepentant anti-American terrorists or who sat in the pews of a vile reverse racist for 20 years would embrace Critical Race Theory and Dr. Bell? And is anyone surprised that no administration in history has been so race-centric? Is anyone surprised that Obama, who campaigned on healing the racial divide, is actually intent on promoting the canard of wide spread racism and protecting, if not actually expanding, the racial spoils system?
Let's conclude with Dr. Thomas Sowell's thoughts on Derrick Bell from 1990: