Was Soledad O’Brien Lying or Just Ignorant? Her Claims Are Undermined by the Words of . . . Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan
In assessing the significance of Barack Obama’s embrace, literally and figuratively, of Derrick Bell, we first have to clear away the misrepresentations from the media about what Critical Race Theory is, and Derrick Bell’s importance to that way of thinking.
As for the media misrepresentations, let’s recall Soledad O’Brien lecturing Joel Pollak on what critical race theory is:
Can we get a transcript of the critical part, please, Patterico? Why certainly:
POLLAK: Derrick Bell is the Jeremiah Wright of academia. He passed away last year, but during his lifetime, he developed a theory called Critical Race Theory, which holds that the civil rights movement was a sham, and that white supremacy is the order, and it must be overthrown.
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: That is a complete misreading. I’ll stop you there for a second, and then I’m going to let you continue, but that is a complete misreading of Critical Race Theory.
So who’s right? Does Critical Race Theory hold that the civil rights movement was a sham; that white supremacy is the order of the day; and that it must be overthrown?
Don’t ask me. Ask Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, appointed by President Barack Obama. If Kagan backs up Pollak on this, would you find that convincing?
Well, John Sexton researched Kagan’s lecture notes from a 1993 lecture she gave about critical race theory. Sexton — a new member of the Breitbart team! congratulations, John! — has published his findings at Big Government. The following are Kagan’s own words:
Derrick Bell as examplar: Now Derrick Bell’s writing illustrates each of these four aspects of critical race theory. He believes that racism is a pervasive– and a permanent –aspect of American society. Read 1. He believes that the legal system is a means of promoting a system of racial subordination–even, or perhaps especially, when it makes claims to objectivity and neutrality. Read 2. He is deeply critical of the strategies and goals of the traditional civil rights movement–of which he used to be a part.
Let’s take those point by point. Again, these are quotes from Kagan.
On Critical Race Theory seeing the civil rights movement as a sham:
Critical of civil rights strategies: Third, CRT [Critical Race Theory] generally is extremely critical of the activity — the strategy and even the goals — of the traditional civil rights movement. The thinking here is that the traditional civil rights movement believed that all that needed to be done was to make the laws neutral– to end legal segregation in the schools, for example — in order to achieve racial equality in America. But such reforms, critical race theorists say, were ineffectual, and necessarily so — because they ignored the way even neutral laws could effect racial subordination. In addition, it might be said that critical race theorists see the civil rights movement as too “reformist,” too “gradualist,” not sufficiently committed to the broad-scale social transformations necessary to achieve racial equality.
On Critical Race Theory and its belief that white supremacy is the order of the day:
What most critical race theorists believe is that law, in a variety of ways, works to maintain the subordination of members of minority groups.
. . . .
“Neutral” law as mechanism of racial subordination: Second, CRT attempts to show that the claims of the legal system to neutrality, to impartiality, and to objectivity are false claims. CRT attempts to show that the law — even when it seems neutral and even-handed — in fact works in the interest of dominant groups in American society and particularly in the interest of dominant racial groups. CRT attempts to show that the so-called “logic of the law,” that so-called “neutral principles” are a sort of cover for a deeply ingrained system of racial domination.
On Critical Race Theory and the belief that the existing system of white supremacy must be overthrown:
And what most critical race theorists believe is that the achievement of racial justice in this country, if possible at all, will require not merely the more even-handed application of current laws — that will do less than nothing – but a root and branch transformation of the legal system.
On every point, Kagan’s characterization of Critical Race Theory supports Pollak’s point of view. On every single point.
Open up your hearts and your minds to the words of Derrick Bell! And gimme a hug!
So when Soledad O’Brien claimed that Joel’s completely accurate characterization is a complete misreading, we have to ask: Was Soledad O’Brien lying? Or just utterly ignorant?
Either way, you can’t trust CNN on this issue. Want further evidence? Check this puff piece at CNN.com, continuing the CNN/Soledad O’Brien theme about how wonderful Derrick Bell was; how Pollak’s characterization of Critical Race Theory was supposedly a distortion; and so forth. The title? “Obama’s Harvard law professor challenged U.S. racism.”
Well, good for him!
WHAT DOES CNN NOT TELL YOU? Some of the more recent revelations about Bell appearing at www.Breitbart.com don’t appear in CNN’s puff piece. For example, here is Bell praising Louis Farrakhan as a “great hero for the people” (although he throws in the obligatory “I don’t agree with everything he says” line):
(Clip from Breitbart TV.)
John Podhoretz in Commentary:
It is incumbent on Powell and others, if they want to get in on the conversation about Bell, to explain what on earth is mainstream about comments he made in an eye-opening New York Observer interview published on October 10, 1994, that is not available online. Among other remarks, Bell denounced Henry Louis (Skip) Gates for writing a New York Times op-ed condemning black anti-Semitism:
I was furious. Even if everything he said was true, it was inexcusable not to mention what might have motivated blacks to feel this way, and to fail to talk about all the Jewish neoconservative racists who are undermining blacks in every way they can.
Bell went on to say, “Now, that wouldn’t excuse anti-Semitism, which is awful, but it would at least provide a context for this anger…”
It might seem nice of Bell to acknowledge the awfulness of anti-Semitism, but he didn’t mean it. The very same interview began as follows: “We should really appreciate the Louis Farrakhans and the Khalid Muhammads while we’ve got them.” Khalid Muhammad was Farrakhan’s right hand, who made a name for himself referring to Jews as, among many other things, “bloodsuckers” whose “father was the devil.” As for Farrakhan, if you need a refresher course in his vileness, look here.
I don’t think we should let Khalid Muhammad off quite this easily. Saying that Jews’ “father was the devil” does not quite capture the full extent of Muhammad’s depraved view of the world. Let’s look at a famous speech of his in which he advocates killing every white man, woman, and child in South Africa, to the cheers of the crowd:
It’s a short clip and worth your time. Here is a partial transcript:
We kill the men. We kill the women. We kill the children. We kill the babies. We kill the blind. We kill the crippled. We kill the crazy. We kill the faggots. We kill the lesbians. I said, God damn it, we kill ‘em all!
We need to appreciate men like that while we’ve got them, eh, Professor Bell. Eh, President Obama?
It’s worth noting that this speech was originally made in late 1993, while Bell’s praise came in 1994. Meaning that when Bell said we needed to “appreciate” Muhammad, Muhammad had already given a famous speech advocating killing women and children in South Africa.
Here, Derrick Bell opines that he is not sure blacks and whites will ever get along:
(Clip from Breitbart TV.)
It is a legitimate question to ask Barack Obama, who told a crowd at Harvard Law School to open their minds to the words of Derrick Bell, whether these are the sorts of ideas he meant.
Now gimme a hug!