Home Blogs Observations of an Expat: America’s Original Sin

Observations of an Expat: America’s Original Sin

Observations of an Expat: America’s Original Sin

Original Sin was propagated by St Augustine in the 4th century. It maintained that every human was born sinful and spent a lifetime fighting against it.

By Tom Arms

America has developed its own version of Original Sin. It is called the Critical Race Theory and is proving to be yet another toxic debate topic dividing Black and White and the growing chasm separating America’s right and left.

Original Sin was propagated by St Augustine in the 4th century. It maintained that every human was born sinful and spent a lifetime fighting against it. The Augustinian philosophy was a major tenet of the medieval church and proved especially with the breakaway Protestant sects. Gradually, however, first the Catholics, and then most of the Protestants revised their thinking. Sin was washed away with sacrament of baptism and replaced with personal responsibility.

Critical Race Theory maintains that all Americans—or at least all White Americans—are born racist. Racism is systemic in American society, reinforced by the law, sub-consciously taught in American classrooms and a key element in American political structures and police forces because of the country’s tainted history. It can only be rooted out with a serious re-education effort and change at every level.

This does not sit well with a lot of White Americans—and not just the White Supremacist brigade. They willingly accept that slavery, Jim Crow and segregation were bad and shameful. But White America made recompense for that with subsequent civil rights laws.

Critical Race Theory attacks their self and national image as the land of meritocracy where every person has an opportunity to rise to greatness on a level playing field which stretches from sea to shining sea. Yeah, sure, say Americans of color – If you are White.

Critical Race Theory has another element which disturbs many Whites. It vilifies slave-holding founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and attacks the constitution as pro-slavery. Generations of Americans have deified the founding fathers and the constitution is virtually a secular Bible. It is nigh impossible for them to jettison those beliefs.

Critical Race Theory (or CRT) had its origins in the 1970s with African-American Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell. He noted that despite the raft of civil rights legislation, there had not been that much of a change in the economic conditions of African-Americans. Bell concluded that that this was because the building blocks of American history had constructed a society which was systemically racist and that precedent-based law supported it.

CRT remained a relatively obscure theory until 1990 when President Bill Clinton tried to appoint one of its strongest proponents to a federal judgeship. The nomination was opposed by all Republican senators and a significant smattering of Democrat lawmakers. The nomination was withdrawn and CRT sprang into the headlines.

However, it did not become “The issue” until the Black Lives Matter and the murder of George Floyd Matter. And it truly took off with the New York Times Pulitzer prize-winning 1619 Project. The date is significant as the first time African slaves were landed in Virginia. The project itself “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the US narrative.”

The result was that companies and federal offices introduced CRT-based anti-racist training for their staffs and, more importantly, it started being taught in schools. The White backlash was led by one Chris Rufo who maintained that Critical Race Theory “poses an existential threat to the United States” and is “anti-American” He was given a megaphone platform by Fox News, from which called on President Trump to stop CRT training in federal offices. Trump listened and did just that, and went further and set up a commission to reinforce the traditional teaching of American history. He called it the 1776 Commission as a clear dig at the New York Times 1619 Project.

When Joe Biden took office he re-introduced CRT training in federal offices and scrapped the 1776 commission. “We can’t continue to just teach what we want to know instead of what we need to know.” He told a crowd gathered to mark the anniversary of the previously unmarked 1921 massacre of African-Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The political lines are now clearly delineated. The Democrats have embraced Critical Race Theory. The Republicans—seeing it as profitable stick with which to bludgeon the looney left Democrats—have attacked it as “toxic, anti-American, neo-Marxist, communist and, in its own way, racist.

The issue of CRT training in schools has already led to fights and arrests at normally boring public meetings of county state education boards. Corporate America is struggling with how to deal with the issue. It is now at the forefront of political debates between candidates battling in next year’s mid-term elections.

It is not about to go away. CRT will soon cross the Atlantic—if it hasn’t already—and become part of the debate over the colonial legacy of Britain and Europe. Critical Race Theory is here to stay. It can no longer be swept under the carpet. Ways must be found to deal with it to prevent dangerous divisions in society.

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[author title=”Tom Arms ” image=”https://sindhcourier.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Tom-Arms-Journalist-Sindh-Courier.jpg”]Tom Arms is foreign affairs editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and is based in London. He has nearly half a century’s experience of world affairs, and has written and broadcast for American, British and Commonwealth outlets. He is the author of “The Encyclopedia of the Cold War,” “The Falklands Crisis” and “World Elections on File.” His new book “America: Made in Britain” is due to be published in October.[/author]