To rational, educated adults,
Critical theory (also capitalized as Critical Theory) is an approach to social philosophy that focuses on reflective assessment and critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures. (Wikipedia)
Post-Modernist academics often shorten it still further to just “Theory.”
Critical Race Theory
“Critical Race Theory” is a subcategory of this general academic approach that focuses specifically on—duh!—race. Again, that’s to rational, educated adults. To the kind of adults who allow Faux News to do their thinking (“We Misinform; we decide; you believe even the most preposterous lies and conspiracy theories our manipulators can concoct!”), “critical race theory” means anything scary and threatening to white supremacy and complacency imaginable.
This bullshit-based confection seems to have been deliberately concocted by a guy named Christopher Rufo. He said in a memo:
The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory. We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.
Wow! That there’s a mouth crammed full of half-chewed gobbledygook, isn’t it! What he meant was that he was gonna redefine the term to mean anything related to race that white folks find even vaguely scary or distasteful. And, with the enthusiastic support of the propaganda spewing from the sewer pipes Breitbart, Faux News, etc. he has succeeded. By now Faux alone will have used the term around 2000 times, with no sign of slowing.
Who’s promoting the misunderstanding, and why?
I was struck by a sort of throwaway line in the Chris Hayes segment on this phenomenon. His guest was Brandy Zadrozny, a senior reporter for NBC News. She had headed the team that prepared a story focused on a small town in Maine where a “critical race theory” molehill had erupted into a volcanic mountain. It should have been a sitcom episode, but had instead become deeply serious.
The throwaway line mentioned that the eruption had been financed by Far Right groups like ALEC and The Heritage Foundation. Thing is, groups like this don’t make investments just for the fun of watching small town white folks get their knickers tied into knots of fear and outrage. I mean, they enjoy it, I’m sure, but they always keep bigger, longer range goals in sight. Right now they’ve been concentrating on suppressing the vote and promoting autocracy.
How might one make honorable Americans, who believe in democracy, agree to accept blatantly obvious democracy-destroying voter suppression? Make them fearful, make them defensive, piss them off. And that’s exactly what this CRT horseshit is intended to do.