Soledad O’Brien: Okay, you can stop tweeting me about Critical Race Theory now
posted at 4:15 pm on March 12, 2012 by Allahpundit
Via the Daily Caller. I sympathize with the Political Math guy’s take on this but this clip is so dumb that you should watch it for the entertainment value, if nothing else. The key bit comes at 2:50. Remember when Joel Pollak described CRT as an argument that “the civil rights movement was a sham and that white supremacy is the order and it must be overthrown,” earning instant sneers from O’Brien? She restates his position here for her guest, Professor Dorothy Brown, as “he said Critical Race Theory is all about white supremacy.” Brown seems taken aback by that, understandably — the way O’Brien phrases it, it sounds as if Pollak was claiming that CRT was itself white supremacist in nature, which is insane. So, good job to everyone involved here in debunking something that no one is claiming. The other possibility is that Brown understood Joel’s point perfectly well despite O’Brien’s mangled attempt to restate it and simply thought his description of the discipline was wrong. If that’s the case, we have an even bigger problem. Go read Jim Treacher’s post to see why, paying special attention to the law review excerpt he found and who the author is. Either Joel’s being sandbagged here by an academic who agrees with him when the cameras aren’t on or the whole conversation’s FUBAR because O’Brien couldn’t get his position right when asking her question.
For the record, National Review checked with Harvard Professor Stephan Thernstrom on Friday to settle the great Pollak/O’Brien CRT dispute and got this response:
Stephan Thernstrom, a professor of social history at Harvard, explains to National Review Online that he sees Pollak’s explanation as “a little crude but essentially right. O’Brien is simply blowing smoke.”
Thernstrom explains that “CRT does boil down to the assumption that white supremacy lives on, only in more subtle ways. Proponents would refer more often to ‘white privilege’ than ‘white supremacy,’ but I’m sure you could find them using the former term as well.”
He notes, however, that Pollak “certainly” went too far in his claims about what CRT proponents think about the civil rights movement: “They admire it greatly because it was a mass movement by blacks and led by blacks. . . . But they would maintain that the actual legislation and court decisions that resulted from it were very minor advances that made hardly a dent in the oppressive structures created by whites to keep blacks down.”
Tom Maguire went dumpster diving through the NYT’s archives and found that their treatment of CRT over the years dovetails with Pollak’s definition too. O’Brien could have conceded the accuracy of his definition during their interview and stuck with the argument that his association with Bell means nothing when assessing Obama’s motives, but she and CNN evidently felt obliged to go the extra mile of trying to make it look like Pollak quite literally didn’t know what he was talking about. Go figure that Joel, a Harvard Law grad, knows what’s being taught at Harvard Law.