Yesterday, Iowa passed a law aimed at keeping schools from teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT)—a congeries of ideas about racism that took shape in academia and has gained much purchase on the American left. Several other states are considering similar legislation. As Pamela Paresky writes, much Critical Race Theory, and the more general notions of social justice that undergird it, opens the door to anti-Semitism, and sometimes leads directly through it.
CRT relies on narratives of greed, appropriation, unmerited privilege, and hidden power—themes strikingly reminiscent of familiar anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. To make matters worse, the expectation of solidarity between social-justice allies allows anti-Zionists to use the latent anti-Semitic themes of CRT to propagate a false narrative about Israel without opposition from within the movement. This magnifies the existing anti-Jewish nature of the social-justice project.
In the critical-social-justice paradigm . . . Jews, who have never been seen as white by those for whom being white is a moral good, are . . . seen as white by those for whom whiteness is an unmitigated evil. This reflects the nature of anti-Semitism: no matter the grievance or the identity of the aggrieved, Jews are held responsible. Critical race theory does not merely make it easy to demonize Jews using the language of social justice; it makes it difficult not to.
One “critically informed” social-work curriculum teaches that the notion of Jews “pulling themselves up by their bootstraps” is a “myth.” Instead, having “become white,” Jews benefited from federal programs that allowed “Jews and other European immigrants to be recognized or rewarded.” In other words, these social-work students are not taught that anti-Semitism is a conspiracy theory about Jews gaining unmerited success and power. They are taught that Jews, having been initiated into whiteness, have gained unmerited success and power.
According to Ibram X. Kendi, the leading scholar of antiracism, “racial inequity is evidence of racist policy,” and “racial inequity over a certain threshold” should be “unconstitutional.” This obviously presents a particular problem for Jews, who represent roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population. A much higher proportion of Jews than non-Jews attend college. Jews represent an outsize share of winners of major awards, like Nobel prizes. As of 2020, seven of the twenty wealthiest Americans were Jewish. In virtually every major American industry and institution, Jews hold leadership roles disproportionate to their overall demographic numbers.
Applying the thinking of Kendi and like-minded writers to these statistics leads to the unavoidable conclusion that, as Paresky puts it, “Jewish success can be explained only by Jewish collusion with white supremacy.”