After nearly two long weeks in anticipation, BYU finally released the results of their investigation into the women’s volleyball match against Duke. BYU stated after reviewing “all available video and audio recordings, including security footage and raw footage from all camera angles taken by BYUtv of the match… we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event.” BYU’s statement came as a relief for many, and a letdown for those hoping these unfounded allegations would help propel Critical Race Theory (CRT) into action.
Since the release of the statement, groups such as the Black Menaces and Stop Your Silence have remained, ironically, silent. Those who were quick to jump on the original hoax now sit quietly on the sidelines. Duke issued a reply to BYU’s investigation, and it is exactly what was expected. Nina King, Vice President and Director of Athletics at Duke, said in a statement, “[w]e unequivocally stand with and champion them, especially when their character is called into question.” King goes on to say, “Duke Athletics believes in respect, equality, and inclusiveness, and we do not tolerate hate and bias.” King, while not acknowledging the results of the investigation, pledged loyalty to her team that just disseminated unfounded accusations of racism. The validity of the allegations does not matter; Duke will “unequivocally” defend their team even if the incident never happened. These political power games are not uncommon in the framework of CRT.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL RACE THEORY
Critical Race Theory posits that all economic, social, political, and individual inequalities are results of racism. If taken logically to its full extent, one would then wonder why Indian Americans are the most prosperous ethnic group in America given the supposed “systemic” white supremacy. CRT has deep philosophical and ideological backgrounds that cannot be fully explained in a single article and necessitate further reading to fully comprehend CRT’s origins. However, we can single out various aspects of CRT that are apparent in the reactions to the “racial-heckling” incident. There is a reason that Rachel Richardson, The Black Menaces, and Stop Your Silence immediately advocated for Critical Race Theory or antiracism training at BYU, even without verification of the allegations. Critical Race Theory is a fusion of neo-Marxism and postmodernism. Originating from French intellectuals in the 1960s and 70s, postmodernism is the radical skepticism and criticism of meta-narratives and Enlightenment reason. Typical postmodern ideas claim that logic, reason, speech, and discourse are subjective manifestations of power. While this may seem unclear to the reader, these tenets of postmodernism have been implemented directly into Critical Race Theory.
SKEPTICISM OF ENLIGHTENMENT RATIONALISM
In the beginning paragraph of their book Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, prominent Critical Race Theorists, state the following:
“Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.” (emphasis added)
The questioning of Enlightenment rationalism, or of scientific and logical reason, comes from postmodern thinkers like Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, and Michel Foucault. Foucault argued that a claim to knowledge or truth was merely based on the common beliefs of the culture. For example, many ancient cultures believed and accepted that the sun rotated around the earth. So, any claim that the sun did not rotate around the earth was regarded as false, and therefore had less power within the culture. We know, through modern scientific knowledge (Enlightenment rationalism), that the sun does not rotate around the earth, but vice-versa. Although, even this could be considered a culturally relative truth claim, as it was heavily influenced by the Enlightenment era.
CRT has integrated this skeptical cultural-relativist epistemology by stating “since different races have different cultures, they also have different ways of knowing.” CRT then argues “white” culture prohibits all other “ways of knowing,” and instead favors Enlightenment (white) rationalism and logic over storytelling or subjectivity. “White” epistemology is, according to CRT, solely in the pursuit of power and dominance over all other racial groups. So, to reject “white” ways of knowing, CRT must adopt subjectivity and storytelling as its epistemology.
In Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, “legal storytelling” has its own chapter. Legal storytelling, according to CRT, is a method in science and law that communicates the “lived realities” of those affected by systemic racism. By telling false hyper-emotional stories, CRT projects a narrative that makes everything seem more apocalyptic than it is. An example of CRT storytelling is Jessie Smollett, who claimed that two men attempted to lynch him while calling him racial slurs and saying, “This is MAGA country!” The outrage from this incident was similar to the coverage of the media claiming Rachel Richardson’s story was evidence of systemic and institutional racism. Today, Jessie Smollett still sticks to his false narrative. To him, it’s reality - his reality.
THE DUKE RACE HOAX
The Duke race-hoax is a perfect example of the quasi-postmodern storytelling in Critical Race Theory. Rachel Richardson accused a BYU fan of yelling a racial slur for the “entirety” of the game, something that evidently did not happen. By alleging this, Richardson successfully created a false environment of systemic and institutional racism at BYU through her storytelling. Immediately, student activists took advantage of her claim and used it to push mandatory CRT and anti-racism training for all faculty and staff. Then, when BYU delayed responding to the event as they searched for evidence of her claims, BYU and its student body were labeled racist. Two weeks later, when BYU confirmed suspicions that the incident never occurred, student activists fell silent. When confronted about the invalidity of the incident, the student activists say they still believe her “lived experience.” This is CRT storytelling at its worst.
The damage has been done by Rachel’s storytelling, so how do we combat the consequences? We can all become more informed about the background and origins of Critical Race Theory. Cynical Theories and Race Marxism by James Lindsay are great introductory books to Critical Theory. If a student or faculty member at BYU refers to the incident as true, call it out. Explain that the events don’t add up in Rachel’s story, quote BYU’s investigation, and educate them about CRT and its storytelling component. There may be students and faculty that continue to advocate for CRT out of compassion, but there is nothing compassionate about it. The “Theory” has no compassion nor good intentions.
The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author.
The Cougar Chronicle is an independent student-run newspaper and is not affiliated with Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints