Government institutions cannot eliminate subconscious or conscious prejudices. The 20th century’s infatuation with “science” and brain chemistry has resulted in great hubris by academics and government to do exactly that — change the brain. But it has always ended in disaster. This was the theme of Anthony Burgess’s iconic novel “A Clockwork Orange.” Years later, Burgess wrote, “It would seem that enforced conditioning of the mind, however good the social intention, has to be evil.”
Critical Race Theory is evil. It seeks to condition young minds to eliminate subconscious racism. We are told by CRT proponents that “the system” that strives to be colorblind and treat all people equally is deficient due to subconscious prejudices. Their answer is to impose a new color-conscious system that will eliminate subconscious biases — starting in kindergarten.
A cursory examination of the science reveals just how idiotic this whole ideology is, and why eliminating racism by imposing racism really is as stupid as it sounds. How did we get here? We got here through academics who misapply statistics to call for the impossible.
Consider this excerpt from a Vermont doctor who claims there is “structural discrimination” in Vermont’s healthcare system:
‘Research has shown things like implicit bias, things like structural discrimination and processes actually impact people’s health,’ she said. ‘Some that is conscious, and some of that is unconscious.’
Part of the solution, she says, is equality for all patients: “We will know when we get to the point when we have reached equality when the research shows that everyone gets the same treatment, everyone has the best possible outcomes — and that’s what we are striving for.”
Here’s the problem — the research will never “show that everyone gets the same treatment, everyone has the best possible outcomes.” That utopian ideal — lovely as it sounds — has never been achieved in any society, because it is impossible. Thomas Sowell explains this in great scientific detail in his book “Discrimination and Disparities”:
The belief that disparities in incomes are indicators of disparities in the treatment of those with lower incomes is part of a more general set of assumptions that some one particular factor is the key or dominant factor behind the differences in outcomes. In the early twentieth century, the key factor behind economic, intellectual and other disparities among different groups was assumed to be genetics. That view was as dominant then as the opposite view today that disparities in outcomes imply discrimination. American colleges and universities had hundreds of courses on eugenics then, just as many academic institutions have courses — and whole departments — teaching that outcome disparities imply discrimination.
Nor was genetic determinism peculiar to the United States or confined to any particular part of the political or ideological spectrum, though American Progressives took the lead in promoting genetic determinism in the United States then, as they later took the lead in promoting the opposite presumption that disparities imply discrimination in the second half of the twentieth century. On both sides of the Atlantic, and in both eras, leading intellectual and political figures were in the forefront of those promoting the prevailing presumption of their times. (Thomas Sowell, Discrimination and Disparities, p. 25.)
Yes, folks, the hubris in doctors who claim they are going to eliminate racism in the “system” echoes the painfully idiotic precedents of the eugenics and lobotomy movements in academia. In all cases, self-proclaimed liberators launched huge experiments without pausing to weigh all the evidence (or, as with CRT, after slanting and manipulating the evidence). Vermont’s progressives (who were at the forefront of both the eugenics and lobotomy movements) have already implemented this experimental ideology on Vermont children, without considering the potential for harmful negative effects.
As history shows, infatuation with science often results in a sort of religiosity, and that has been especially true with cognitive neuroscience (to which the Vermont doctor above alludes). There is then often a rush to alter legal rights in response — as with commitments (or lobotomization) of the mentally deficient, or the forced sterilization of the indigent and impoverished.
But there is reason to pause. Cognitive neuroscience is still in its infancy, and much of what has so far emerged that might be relevant to the law consists largely of hypotheses that are far from certainties. The natural impulse of forward-thinking people to employ the wonders of neuroscience in making the law more ‘modern’ and ‘scientific’ needs to be tempered with a healthy skepticism, or some dire results are likely. Indeed, the history of using ‘brain science’ to alter the law is not a pretty picture. A few examples will illustrate the point.
The writer, a federal judge, then recounts the horrors of the eugenics and lobotomy efforts, as well as other examples of misplaced trust in so-called “science” (such as psychotherapy). He then cautions against moving too swiftly:
Clearly, then, brain science, or what has passed for it, has had a problematic impact on the law, suggesting that proposed interactions should be approached with caution. Which brings us back to cognitive neuroscience. It cannot be doubted that cognitive neuroscience has made considerable advances in recent years. But despite the considerable publicity it has received, it is still not able to produce well-tested, reliable procedures for detecting and measuring specific mental states in specific individuals. Neuroscience has something to offer the legal system and, given the rapid rate of its current development, may have even more to offer in the future. For now, however, the lessons of the past suggest that a too-quick acceptance by the legal system of the latest neuroscientific discoveries may be fraught with danger.
CRT is fraught with a multitude of such dangers. For instance, the doctor quoted above presumes that all disparities between races in Vermont are caused by racism. There has been no proof for such a dangerous allegation aside from disparities in outcome, which could have many other causes. Leaping from “subconscious bias” to deliberate systemic oppression is a dubious enterprise, especially when it churns up unjustified racial hatred.
For centuries the arc of the moral universe has been bending toward justice as a result of changing people’s explicit behaviors and beliefs, not on the basis of ferreting out implicit prejudicial witches through the spectral evidence of unconscious associations. Although bias and prejudice still exist, they are not remotely as bad as a mere half a century ago, much less half a millennium ago. We ought to acknowledge such progress and put our energies into figuring out what we have been doing right—and do more of it.
Our brains have evolved such that we have a large and highly-complex frontal cortex, which allows us to inhibit impulses, make complicated decisions and behave in socially appropriate ways. It’s the frontal cortex that helps most of us tamp down our gut reactions and, in our conscious behaviors, strive to treat members of all races equally. “The human mind is extremely adept at control and regulation,” [neuroscientist David] Amodio says, “and the fact that we have these biases should really be seen as an opportunity for us to be aware and do something about them.”
That’s why, in the end, Amodio doesn’t think that the mere existence of implicit biases provides any excuse for the display of overt or explicit racism. After all, stereotypes are ubiquitous. We all perceive them in our culture, but we do not all act upon them. In other words, we have the ability—and the responsibility—to regulate our own behavior.
The CRT being launched in Vermont schools does not teach these truths. It teaches an ideology, reflected in the BLM flags displayed at schools in violation of the First Amendment, that says that all white people are biased and that government must reallocate wealth — and brainwash children in schools — to redress this horrible state of affairs.
“Systemic racism” has never been proved, but is constantly assumed — racial disparities can have a host of other causes. CRT expressly calls for a race-based government system in an endless cycle of policies designed to impact the human brain, to achieve an impossible goal.
However well-intentioned, CRT is a “theory” being rapidly and roundly discredited, for good reason. It has no place in Vermont school curricula.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2021. All rights reserved.