David “Vichy” French

Real appeasement has never been tried

In his latest New York Times piece, co-authored by Kmele Foster, Jason Stanley and Thomas Chatterton Williams, David French and company oppose the opposition to Critical Race Theory (CRT) as led by Christopher Rufo on the basis that “speech codes” threaten “liberal education.” They say that their argument is not to defend CRT, but they fail to define speech codes or liberal education, and instead minimize CRT, project its worst features onto Rufo’s camp, and attempt to convince their audience that resistance to it is not only unprincipled, but futile.

To minimize the divisive goals of Critical Race Theory, the authors elevate it as an “academic discipline,” and a “critique of racist structures,” of which some of them remain “skeptical.” They thus fail to articulate the opposition’s stance on Critical Race Theory, and adopt a pose of liberal neutrality and elite indifference which obscures the true nature of the present conflict in American schools. 

Avoiding the discomfort or guilt of children while teaching history is not a valid educational principle, they argue, because history is messy, and to clean it up for the sake of feelings is to whitewash the past: “Indeed, the very act of learning history in a free and multiethnic society is inescapably fraught. Any accurate teaching of any country’s history could make some of its citizens feel uncomfortable (or even guilty) about the past. To deny this necessary consequence of education is, to quote W.E.B. Du Bois, to transform ‘history into propaganda.’”

The bills inspired by Rufo do not state that children should not be made to feel uncomfortable in any way by an even-keeled lesson in history. The bills instead emphasize that children should not be made to feel uncomfortable precisely on the basis of their immutable identity in the particular way that Critical Race Theory divides and categorizes people, singling out white children and forcing them to publicly “examine their privilege” in light of the liberal revisionist retelling of the past that would make them believe all their ancestors are in hell. 

CRT is not, contrary to the authors’ implicit suggestion, a new, “critical” but still neutral administration of historical fact. It instead explicitly, necessarily demonizes an entire racial group as a part of its so-called interpretive lens. To end with the Du Bois quote as if to suggest that the opponents of CRT are the party guilty of turning American history into reductionist propaganda is flagrant political projection and gaslighting.

The authors’ final rhetorical strategy is to tell the reader that they already have all the protection they need in the form of existing anti-discrimination laws. Rather than pursue legal action as a group, the authors suggest that it would be “wiser” for victims of anti-white bias to file individual complaints:“Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act both prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, and they are rooted in a considerable body of case law that provides administrators with far more concrete guidance on how to proceed. In fact, there is already an Education Department Office of Civil Rights complaint and federal lawsuit aimed at programs that allegedly attempt to place students or teachers into racial ‘affinity groups.’”

Has any white person ever succeeded against the courts in a case where they were discriminated against for being white? The cited civil rights campaign was filed for the sake of high-achieving Asians seeking college admission. Of course, the open secret of civil rights law, which these authors know yet deny, is that it simply doesn’t apply to white people. “White” is not a protected legal category. By practice, it is instead the implicit aggressor category against which all others collectivize to secure legal privileges. The authors know that official recourse for aggrieved whites is impossible. Yet they encourage the reader to pursue only the impossible, not to mention alienating, route, rather than that which is at least effective in elevating awareness of overt racism. You have to wonder why.

Totalitarians do not get very far without the help of enablers who, whether out of fear, principle, or instinctual subservience to power, pave the way to hell. Thankfully, no “conservative” who has ever attempted to conserve anything (especially the innocence of children) reads David French. He does not write for conservatives. He and the rest of the “good faith conservatives” write for liberals and for libertarians who need liberals to pat them on the heads and say, “Good boy.” The project of the obsequious person is to secure his social status among people who hate him. Maybe he knows that. Maybe that’s why.