No, CRT Is Not The Same As GRT

No, CRT Is Not The Same As GRT May 21, 2022

I want to say a little something about Critical Race Theory, and how it’s different from another theory that’s been in the news lately.

I don’t really feel that I should have to say this, because the two theories are not the same at all, nor are they equal opposite bookends for one another that can be easily compared. But certain people on the internet seem to be mixed up. As far as I can tell from the garbled prose, they’re claiming that Critical Race Theory and something called the Great Replacement Theory are two equally wrong, equally dangerous notions, one held by the evil Left Wing and one held by the evil Right Wing, one saying that the replacement of white people would be a good thing and one saying that the replacement of white people would be a bad thing, with none but the Substack blogger himself standing in the happy medium. So, with that in mind, let’s clarify:

Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is an academic concept. In essence it is the theory is based in the ideas that race is not something innate in people but a construct made up by societies, and that racism is not only an individual bias but can be baked into legal and social codes, and that we might improve society by deconstructing the constructs. It’s way more complicated than that, but that’s the beginning.

The Great Replacement Theory, or GRT, is a conspiracy theory. It claims that race is very real and innate indeed, and that white people are being replaced by other sorts of human being as part of a deliberate plot, a form of genocide. The conspiracy theorists usually blame this on a secret Jewish cabal. American GRT conspiracy theorists tend to believe the cabal is controlling the gullible dupes in the Democratic party to let in too many Latino immigrants, but you can find versions of GRT in many countries in many eras of history.

–CRT is a way of describing and explaining things that have actually happened, such as red-lining. You can call the same set of events something else if you want. You can argue about different reasons for the events. In Catholic theology, you might describe a similar phenomenon with the term “structural sin.”

–GRT is a way of talking about something you think might happen, the eventual replacement of communities of white people with non-white people in a given place.

–CRT talks about actual people who are known to us, laws that have been written, and things that have been done.

–GRT talks about secret groups pulling the strings, an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence.

–CRT is taught in law schools. It is not taught in the girl scouts or in Kindergarten or at summer camp or on PBS cartoons. It’s not even taught in middle or high school unless you’re in extremely advanced placement classes. It’s a complicated academic theory.

–GRT is taught in seedy internet forums and the talking points are sometimes repeated on a certain cable news channel for old people.

–Since CRT is a way of describing actual events and things people have done publicly, we can point to evidence in the real world to describe what we’re talking about.

–Since GRT is a conspiracy theory about a secret Jewish cabal, we cannot point to evidence of the secret plot we’re claiming to have discovered.

–CRT has never, as far as I’m aware, been the motivation for a terrorist attack.

–GRT has been the motivation for several terrorist attacks including the recent one in Buffalo, the mass murder of Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh, the mass murder at a supermarket in El Paso, and the mass murder at a mosque in New Zealand.

In short, Critical Race Theory is an academic theory used to describe real things and Great Replacement Theory is a crackpot racist excuse used to kill people. They are not the same.

I hope this helps.



Image via Wikimedia commons
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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