Xi Van Fleet was six years old when the Cultural Revolution was initiated by Chairman Mao in Communist China. She witnessed the government suppressing people who spoke against Mao, who expressed their religious beliefs, or who failed to show adequate devotion to Mao’s cultural goals. She recalls a teacher in one of her schools who liked to wear pretty clothes. She was accused of being bourgeois, and the students attacked her verbally and spat on her. She recalls government officials going into homes and smashing religious items or destroying anything that represented the past, books, pictures, vases, whatever. She remembers statues being torn down. She remembers schools and other institutions changing their names to rid themselves of the memory of those who did not fit the current political or social priorities. She remembers people being encouraged to report each other for their “wrong” political or social ideas, including children turning in their own parents to the authorities.
At 26, Van Fleet was able to escape China and come to the United States. She remembers how free she felt. She was able to obtain books that would give her information on both sides of issues. She was able to speak freely with others about political or social ideas, to agree or disagree without fear of being ostracized or even arrested.
Now, Van Fleet is worried about where schools are going with their adoption of critical race theory. “Critical race theory has its roots in cultural Marxism,” Van Fleet told the school board of Loudoun County, VA at a Tuesday meeting. “It should have no place in our schools. … You are now teaching, training our children, to be social justice warriors and to loathe our country and our history.” Van Fleet argues that Communist China under Mao “used the same critical theory to divide people.” The difference, Van Fleet said, is that the Communists in China “used class instead of race.”
“To me, and to a lot of Chinese, it is heartbreaking that we escaped communism and now we experience communism here,” Van Fleet told the Loudoun school board. “I just want Americans to know that their privilege is to be here living in America, that is just the biggest privilege.” Van Fleet agrees that it is a good thing to be against racism. But, she says critical race theory is “basically breaking the system that is against racism.”
It seems to me that we ought to listen carefully to those who experienced efforts by repressive governments to force people to think a particular way, or to act a certain way, or speak a certain way. Critical race theory seems intent on teaching that the United States is built on slavery and racism, and is therefore corrupt and irredeemable. Our children are being taught that there are two types of people in the world: the oppressors and the oppressed — and that your belonging to either group is determined by your skin color, regardless of the economic, educational, physical or other advantages any particular family or individual might enjoy or do not enjoy. This is the nonsense of CRT. You are no longer an individual. You are nothing more than one of a group, and the group to which you belong is determined by something over which you had no control: the color of your skin. This is what we used to teach Black children and Native American children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Jewish children and Irish children years ago, decades ago, when racism was built into the school system by law. The goal, I thought, and which was largely demonstrated when I was in school, was to disregard our differences and focus on our common heritage and values as a nation. The message was that, regardless of our differences, we could be friends, colleagues, co-workers, and community leaders. No, we were not perfect in implementing those ideals, and still are not. But, our imperfections did not and do not convince us to abandon those ideals.
The current emphasis on race and critical race theory is exactly that. Frustrated at the imperfect practice of our ideals of a community where merit and hard work and dedication led to advancement and not arbitrary elements like race and ethnicity, there are those who have given up on the ideals themselves and are demanding that recognition and advancement be based on race and ethnicity, or the history of past abuses. CRT advocates a step back in race relations, where everything is based on race and even the best of efforts to move beyond a racial standard is met with cynicism and suspicion.
We had better not move down this road. If we do, it will lead to division, anger, anxiety, paranoia, lack of trust and a desertion of the values and virtues that are necessary for any community to survive and prosper. We will implode upon ourselves, guaranteeing our own demise by our misguided efforts to build a better world, because how we will have defined a better world is really a dystopia of social discord.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.