The debate over CRT is, for better or worse, academic

By Christopher Havel

Pittsboro, NC – Seems to me that all this talk about critical race theory misses a couple key points. Mind you, I did my time long before this was a hot issue, so I had to edumacate myself on the subject a bit. For those who aren’t far too OK Boomer for their own good, the Simple English Wikipedia has some excellent articles that take really complicated subjects and make them understandable, when the regular Wikipedia is just jargon soup on the subject.

Real quick, for the far-too-OK-Boomer crowd — Wikipedia and its sister sites, such as the Simple English Wiki, were in fact, of questionable value because of their openness, back when they were very, very new. They’re now all maintained, Wikipedia itself in particular, mostly by a group of volunteers whose fervency for what they do genuinely approaches cultist status. Wikipedia is actually *more* reliable, and *better* at patrolling stupid/etc edits, than (for example) the website for Merriam Webster! There are actual scientific studies showing this, where they’ve gone in and done particular edits and seen how long it takes to roll them back. It’s not the early 2000s any more, get over it.


As far as I can tell, CRT is a mental tool of a sort, a way to think about racism and society and government and how those things interact with individual people and larger organizations such as non-profits, schools and universities, and corporations. This harkens back, in my mind, to the old globalization debate — which is to say, the old isolationist debate — whether we’re better off, as a people, as somewhat isolated nations, with strict borders and strict controls as to who gets in or out, when, why, and how much. Historically, as I see it, isolationism is real popular during and after a war, and in the run-up to one, and once people realize they can relax and that the Russians (or whomever) are, in fact, *not* coming, and we’re not all about to live in something closely resembling “Fallout 4”, isolationism kinda mostly fades into the background chatter and political grandstanding that is Business As Usual, and globalism becomes a thing again.

Here’s the thing, though. We’ve kind of already made that decision. Like it or not, nobody’s going back to the Gold Standard. Nobody’s cutting the country off from the rest of the world like North Korea… and, like it or not, that wall is pretty much not getting built. All of this is actually a good thing — to do otherwise is just not who we are.

America was founded on the principle of being a ‘melting pot’, a home for those who haven’t got one, or those who dream of something a lot better than what they can get elsewhere. We’ve always struggled with that, sure — from “No Dogs, No Irish” to Stephen Colbert’s infamous Migrant Farm Worker Day — but to turn our back on globalization, now… it would literally destroy us as a country. It’d be the single stupidest thing we could do. Our economy would collapse overnight.

At this point, the debate is, for better or worse, academic — pardon the term. We’re a global society. That means thinking outside of just Chatham County, outside of just North Carolina, outside of just the USA. It means thinking about the whole blue marble we have, and what we want to do with it, and who we want to be as humanity. That’s also why this particular post of mine takes a bit of a wide view — sometimes you just gotta step back a bit and look at things with the wide lens, you know? Go telephoto and all that, but with your mind.

That’s kinda what critical race theory is about, in its own way, actually, and in an era when far too few people have any real ability to think critically to begin with, I can’t see it as a bad thing. Kinda it comes down to this… you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube, but once you’ve gone and half filled the sink with it, you can clean it up if you’ve got a little bit of knowledge, some paper towels, and running water. Racism and society are both really, really complicated issues, and in my experience, just like a big hill of toothpaste in the sink, if you try and ignore that stuff, it’s just gonna sit there and get nasty. (In fact, historically speaking, whitewashing stuff like racism, and silencing debate on it, is a lot of why we’re still dealing with it! I respect Morgan Freeman, but this is one place I respectfully disagree with him.)

Seems to me, knowing how to clean up a mess is a good thing — especially since critical thinking can be applied to a lot of other things in one’s life, and doing so just generally makes folks better at living — individually, and with each other. Sure, it speaks to some pretty embarrassing stuff on the part of our ancestors, but the nice thing about that is that that means maybe someday it’ll all be cleaned up, and the world will be nice and shiny, and we won’t need CRT any more.

Sounds like a force for good to me. I’ll put my tick mark in the “yes, please!” column.

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That said, you know, I was never much of a poli-sci type. Too much mud-flinging, too much management type stuff, too complicated overall. I’m a tech guy and a nerd, and CRT is an acronym that means something entirely different to me… especially since I’m a retro-tech guy, I like those dusty old beige things from the 1980s and early 1990s, when Windows in general was kind of new and “The Secret of Monkey Island” and “Myst” were top headline games — not so much the modern nasty-gorey shoot-em-ups. (I can’t stand those!) Hey, speaking of that, and of CRTs, does anyone have an old 9-inch diagonal monochrome VGA monitor? I know better than to ask the local PTA Thrift here in Siler, what with that big sign on the door. But I’ve got this great idea for a retro all-in-one system design and it’s itchin’ at me, coz I can’t find the kind of screen I like. LCDs are too newfangled for this. If you got somethin, you know where to find me 🙂