Partial Transcript: The Trojan Horse that Deconstructs Communities


Given in the following is a partial transcript of a discussion on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality from the following video:

The Trojan Horse – Ep. 1 – Deconstructing Communities – Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay (1:35:24)

The three participants include Michael O’Fallon, Founder of the conservative Evangelical think tank Sovereign Nations, along with Dr. James Lindsay and Dr. Peter Boghossian, two participants in a 2017-8 Grievance Studies exposé which entailed the successful publishing of a series of fabricated articles in Progressive humanities and social studies academic journals.

The discussion begins with Michael O’Fallon reading portions of resolution Article 9 supporting the use of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality as valid tools within the Southern Baptist Convention.  He asks James and Peter for their thoughts:

[Explanatory comments are enclosed in square brackets.]

James: That would tell you that you have a very lovely wooden horse sitting outside your gate.  Every word of that sounds wonderful. Nice varnish on the wood.  And what’s inside is a hot mess.  It is letting something in that is in many respects parasitic, and in many respects designed to be divisive, and to increase salience, awareness, focus upon issues that have a political nature tied to race politics for the purposes of pushing identity politics into whatever it’s trying to be inserted; in this case, the Southern Baptist Convention.

It comes in a pretty package. None of that sounds terrible, and it’s all superficially true.  It is a tool for analyzing race relations in society.  There are other tools that one might consider to be more rigorous.  But it is a tool, and what that tool’s composed of is … let’s take a look at the word “critical”, here.  What does the word “critical” mean?  The word “critical” means in this context looking at in extreme closeness, analyzing particularly the use of language, history, etc. in order to make problems related specifically to oppression more visible so that people will want to enact a revolution to overturn the power dynamics that are alleged to be a part of it.  That’s “critical”.  “Critical” means in a sense complaining about in a specific way to effect a radical political agenda.  To make problems visible that you wouldn’t otherwise see.  Now, obviously there can be benefit to making problems visible, but it is a method that is specifically designed to focus on problems and only on problems.

[4:42] Then there’s the “Theory” side.  Critical Race “Theory”. This “Theory” is not the word “theory” that you might hear from scientists, it’s not the word “theory” that you might hear from a lay person: “Oh, I have a theory about…”.  This is a specific meaning of the term “Theory” in the sense of Sociology or Social Philosophy would be a better way to put it.  Which is supposed to be some kind of explanatory structure; and in this case, Critical Race Theory is directly derived from (a) Critical Legal Theory, which does the same thing with law, and tries to pick apart where the law has been insufficient, make problems visible, in order to effect a political change, and (b) Postmodern Theory.  And Postmodern Theory is this idea – among many other things – that knowledge is produced within various communities, unique to that community, that cannot then be evaluated from outside of that community. 

So in the case of Critical Race Theory, the way that gets applied is that… say, people of whatever race… roughly have the same experiences in life of oppression, based on their racial status, or of dominance, if that race is one that’s considered dominant – “White” – so that they have roughly the same experiences in life, so they roughly should have the same view of oppression, and that gives them special insight that is not available to anybody else.  And so you have to defer to that as though it is true.  You can’t possibly question that, or doubt that, or demand a different form, or more rigor, or another layer or level of analysis, because that would be to foist another culture’s process of legitimizing ideas upon a racial culture that doesn’t necessarily embrace that. So the claim would be that, that identity group has knowledge that can’t be questioned from outside of that group. So you have no option other than to agree with it.  That’s Critical Race Theory. [7:06]

[Michael asks if CRT is a tool of construction or a tool of destruction?  James implies that its really about destruction, as in the solvent that dissolves everything.]

James: [7:37] The intersectional framework is one where you start subdividing identity groups to try to claim… so you as a human being, as an individual are not to be viewed as an individual with your own agency.  You’re to be viewed as an individual who has a combination of whichever identity groups you are in, and each of those has its own essential experience of oppression, particularly, that gives you the “lived experience” as they call it that you have that confers knowledge upon you, and that is intimately related to the power dynamics, not just as they happen to be in society now, but as they are theorized to be based on history, based on the hypothesis that a power dynamic once in place always works to justify and maintain itself, and really can’t be corrected.  That idea was from Audrey Lord, who articulated it as “The Master’s tools will not dismantle the Master’s house.”  So, it’s a heuristic or as its originator or its progenitor Kimberly Crenshaw called it, a practice of trying to winnow out more and more specific special interests within a population, based on their identity markers, and to claim that they have unique experiences that give them unique insight into the world that everybody else can’t possibly criticize and have to listen to and accept by fiat.

Peter: I think it’s important at this stage to unpack a little bit what the Master’s tools are.

James: So some of the Master’s tools in the case would be “reason”, “logic”, “science”, “evidence”, “exegesis”.

Peter: Let that sink in for a second.

James: The argument from within Critical Race Theory is that the people who invented those methods of legitimizing knowledge – who happen to be white, western, males, straight, what have you – built the method of legitimizing knowledge – what we call science, reason, logic, exegesis, whatever it happens to be – specifically for the purpose of understanding knowledge the way they want to understand knowledge so that their power is maintained, so that they can exclude what they call “other ways of knowing.”  The knowledges (plural) of other cultures that within those cultures are equally true, and they say that there’s no external, objective location to which you could retreat, or back up and look, to say: “ok…”

Peter: No “Gods-eye” view.

James: “No Gods-eye View from Nowhere, is what they sometimes call that.  It’s the “No Gods-eye View from Nowhere” is what they refer to as the objective stance.  And they say such a thing is not possible.  There’s only the possibility of understanding from within your cultural milieu.  And your cultural milieu has its methods of making knowledge claims, and you can’t evaluate one from another.  So there’s no way to say (in this context) “my reading of scripture is more authoritative than yours”, “my reading of history is more authoritative than yours”, it’s not possible to make such claims, because somebody else making it from another culture might say, “Well I see it differently, and because you don’t understand the oppressions and the ways we’ve been excluded from the conversation over however many hundreds of years of history, it’s not possible for you to even understand what we’re talking about, so you just have to accept by fiat what we’re saying.”

Peter: It’s even worse than Tom Nichols idea of “The Death of Expertise”.  And this relates to many of the things that we talked about the other day, about research justice, about reality tunnels. Now you can see why someone who has this reality tunnel and is way down here in the gamma quadrant, and the people with reason, evidence, are way up here in the alpha quadrant.  So it really speaks at a very fundamental level to how you make better more discerning judgments about anything, not just morality.  Literally anything you can think of.  And there is a certain epistemological toolset that comes along with this Standpoint Epistemology.  They even have a name for it.

James: The idea really is like a conspiracy theory with no conspirators.  It’s that society – each cultural group within society – has its own use of language, its own means of producing knowledge, and that’s only valid within that construct.  So if you want to appeal to logic, to evidence, to history, to whatever, they can say, “well we have a different logic, reason, and so on. You exclude emotion from being a pathway to legitimate knowledge.”

Peter: And that creates several problems.  Among the problems it creates are…so when the Klan comes to put a cross up on your Black neighbor’s lawn and light it ablaze, yeah, well that’s their truth, just their story that they have, and I have my story, and you have your story… So, I would be morally horrified…  That’s why I yelled out from the audience, “answer the question”, because I knew for a fact that the moment that Hicks asked the question, the obfuscation would be anything but an honest straight-forward answer to the question.  Because that’s almost what he has to do to maintain a position that’s inherently indefensible.  But even beyond that, when you start thinking about what that means, absent the … if it’s possible to bracket the moral horror, it’s impossible to bracket the physical horror show.  I mean, what if you have a dental pain?  What if you have tooth pain?  What are you going to do, go to the witch doctor who’s going to sing a rain dance?  I mean, the whole system is set up … that sort of underscores the question, is that just verbal behavior?  Do people actually believe this?  Or do they just give it lip service?

Michael: Well I think that what you can see in some of the things you’ve stated are evident within New Testament scholarship, right now at the conservative evangelical reformed level. To actually derive at the truth, you must go through the different standpoint epistemologies, because they might have the real truth, as opposed to an objective truth. [14:40]

James: Right. So, let me talk about Standpoint Epistemology, giving kind of an analogy so people can understand it, because it’s really a counterintuitive idea for a lot of people.  So Standpoint Epistemology – to speak kind of philosophically and broadly without the analogy – is this idea that how you are situated in society, meaning how you are situated as an identity, and how that identity is related to power in society, as written by theory in terms of how power works, dictates what you can and cannot know. A good way to understand Standpoint Epistemology at to think of it kind of like color blindness that’s caused by having various identity group privilege.  So the idea is that if you are in the dominant group, you live in a world from the perspective of the dominant, in a dominant world.  So you have one perspective, the dominant perspective. 

If you are a marginalized group, you will have the marginalized perspective while living in the dominant world, so you also have the dominant perspective as well the marginalized perspective, suggesting you have information which is the experience of oppression in the system that other people don’t have.  This has a degree of sense to it.  There is something to this.  And it behooves us to listen to things that have been marginalized and excluded.  But listening is not the same as believing.  Hear out, investigate, that’s different from “listen and believe”; “shut up, listen and believe” is even further down that path.

So you can think of it like color blindness.  If you happen to be the intersection of all the dominant things, [15:47] the most dominant things: white, straight, male, western, able-bodied, thin, fit, whatever they happen to be.  Then it’s like you can only see in gray-scale.  You see the world – everything’s in the colors you live in.  Only gray-scale vision: everything’s black and white.  But then, say that you’re a woman, instead.  That’s like being able to pick up “red”.  So now you can see more of the world. And we can look at this building.  We can say “Oh, those bricks are very organized and nice.  But if we had a person who sees “red”, “red brick”.  Well, we couldn’t possibly know that without someone being able to tell us.  How do we know it’s not “blue” or “green”?  What do those words even mean, if we actually can only see in gray-scale?

Now suppose it’s a Black woman. An intersected identity, it’s Intersectionality and how it used standpoint epistemology to justify why people of marginalized entities have special status that have to be listened to and believed.  Now it’s like adding in “green”. You the person can see “red” and “green”.

Add in like disability status, or a sexual minority.  Now they can see in shades of “blue” as well.  You can add in… we’re going to sort of run out of colors, but you can continue to add more dimensions. […] You can have more and more layers of depth that you get, the more intersected identities you have.  And Standpoint Epistemology is the idea that it is possible; that the people that have more experiences of marginalization therefore have more access to see the world and understand the world, and access truth that people who live with dominance cannot possibly understand. [17:27]

And the belief is such that this is so pernicious and so total in the same sense that you see in “total depravity”, totalizing over everything. In fact, it affects every part of your being, that you can’t possibly understand the experience of somebody who can see in a different color than you can, just as if you were truly colorblind, and would have no idea.  Like they say that there are some people who are so-called “tetra-chromates”, who detect a 4th basic color; very very few, very very rare, they’re all women, it’s various biological reasons.  It’s like THAT.  They have the ability to see a richness of color that nobody else has.  And that’s what Standpoint Epistemology connects to oppression.  That’s what Intersectionality uses to claim that the oppressed person has knowledge that you cannot possibly understand, and you just have to believe pretty much literally on faith, on their testimony.  That some people’s testimony because of who they are in their identity is superior to that of other people.  And the only thing more privileged people can do is listen.  They can’t understand, they actually can’t even fully empathize because they’re outside of it, and you have to be able to meet somebody to empathize.

Peter: And they can’t adjudicate between competing testimonies.

James: Exactly.

Michael: So if you look at this from the perspective of, this is a faith that states that it has belief in objective truth, has objective standards, has a confessional process, has an exegetical method that it’s been committed to for years, then all of a sudden, with a crisis being reported that we must deal with these things now, and this is brought in as an analytical tool, in terms of understanding how we need to deal with these things, where else would you see that happen?  And what would you say?

Peter: Well I was laughing because of the way you explained that. It really is the trojan horse, but it’s even in a sense worse than a Trojan Horse because what it has in it are horrific parasitizing ideologies that almost like vampire ideologies.  We see this in the academy. We’ve already seen this played out, and if all you would need to do is to look at a system where it has played out, and look at multiple systems where it has played out.  Plot the trajectories of those and then ask yourself what is different about any other system that could withstand this trojan horse parasitizing that none of our secular institutions could withstand.

James: Yeah, a good example would be the Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington, which melted down pretty famously a couple years ago.  It’s not difficult to track exactly how this worked.  What happen was Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality were brought in as core tenets in what they called an equity plan for the college…

Peter: I’m sorry, can I interrupt you?

James: Yes, of course.

Peter: So that is one of the words that I think we have to talk about, and it’s a key word, when people hear “Equity”, they have to know it’s not what they think it is. It doesn’t mean what they think it means, and that’s time to start paying attention. When you hear the word “equity”, boom!  Ok, go ahead.

James: If “equity” meant the same thing as people think, which is equality, they would be synonyms, and you wouldn’t have to use the word “equity”.  “Equity” is defined to mean adjusting shares, so that people are made equal.  It is equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity.  It’s “jimmying” the system so that everything comes out fair on the end, and no matter what the inputs were going in – effort, merit, etc., plus the starting place question. 

So, at the Evergreen State College, they introduced this with the Equity Plan, and the whole campus more or less adopted it, with one exception: Professor Bret Weinstein, who did not accept it, and vocally did not accept it, and ended up the center of a riot, and he wasn’t fired from the college, but they ended up leaving the college in not a good way.  And the campus devolved literally to the point where angry students were roving campus in mobs with bats. They were pulling people out of their cars outside the college, presumably looking for Bret Weinstein or other people who they might have associated with him.  And you had this complete meltdown of anything like order, or anything like education, utterly and totally, and the reason is because Critical Race Theory has this nice trojan horse, even the one I described the nice colorblind epistemology, it’s easy to say “there might be something to that”.  And this is the trick.  If you think about there’s something there.  Yeah, there’s SOMETHING, but they’re asking for a lot more than what that nice something is. It’s the difference between “listen” and “shut up and listen and believe”. 

And so what came with it with the Equity Plan was a number of the more recent developments in Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality as they are applied to education, which includes concepts especially like “White Fragility”.  The ideas from Critical Race Theory that are imported on this are that Racism is EVERYWHERE.  It is ALWAYS.  It is IMMINENT throughout society, and so any time that there’s anything that can be read – that’s the critical part – anything that can be read a racist, is a manifestation of a systemic problem that is just beneath the surface, and occasionally pops up.

So therefore, every instance of Racism isn’t some jerk did something racist, and we’re talking about the most possibly small close-reading, maybe somebody could construe it as racist, because they said they were offended, and you can’t deny their truth, because of the Standpoint Epistemology.  It could be the smallest tiny thing.  It’s not an example of a guy who transgressed or like maybe me saying a “guy” instead of a “person”.  It’s not proof that I transgressed, it is proof that latently, I have sexism that is part of my entire world view that’s been baked into me by the way that I’ve been conditioned to think by a whole society that’s infected with this, that can only be cured by revolution. 23:41 Which is what happened at Evergreen.  It caused it to melt down, because it comes out with these ideas, like “racism is everywhere, always, it’s “imminent”, “everyone participates in it”, “Whites automatically benefit from it, and can’t help but do so, so they’re sort of extra complicit”.

Then only way to deal with that is to do anti-racist work; that’s what they call it: “Anti-Racist Work”.  Think of it almost like a brand name, it’s a very specific term.  It’s not this general term: “Oh, I think this is what it means”.  It means that you must constantly look for ways in which you and others around you are participating in the deep system that’s just under the surface and always hiding, and hides in subtle ways.  You have to buy in to the ideology of systemic racism.  And constantly look for it in yourself and in others.  And point it out to make it more visible so that you might lead people to want to effect the revolution.

Peter:  So…I can’t remember the plank [he’s referring to the SBC Article 9], I think it was the last one.  It’s not really asking people to adopt what they think it’s asking to adopt.  It’s asking them to take in an entirely different worldview that’s in many senses is not only incompatible, but will eat away the values that they have.

James: Yeah.  One of the core tenets is the work of anti-racism is NEVER DONE.  NEVER.  You can’t do it right.  You can’t finish.  And then…

Michael: Never accomplished.

James: Yeah.  It can never be accomplished.  And then they safeguard this off of these very again superficially interesting at least ideas like “white fragility”.  White fragility is an idea that is from a scholar named Robin D’Angelo. She wrote the idea down in 2011, and she’s got a big book 2018 about it. Big tour all around; she speaks all over the place.  To a lot of churches.  She’s spoken to … The idea of White Fragility is that if you in any way disagree with any of this Critical Race Theory, if you in any way disagree, it’s because you don’t have the “racial stamina” to do the anti-racism work, to constantly re-examine yourself and find your hidden racism, that you automatically participate in.  If you ignore it, that’s a manifestation of your white fragility.  That’s proving that you’re complicit in the system, that you’re unwilling to do the work.

If you just go away from it, that’s because you’re too fragile to get engaged, you’re unwilling to engage.  And I bring up white fragility, but that’s the tip of an iceberg that has characterized Critical Race and Social Justice scholarship for the past decade at least, and really going back I would say, pushing back to at least 2004-5.  The scholarship is all been converging upon this idea that any kind of disagreement whatsoever is either a character failure, like literally participating in white supremacy-grade character failure, a failure to be willing to engage, because you can’t handle it, or you’re fragile, you’re privilege has made you too weak, you’ve become too comfortable in your privilege to want to do the work to believe the system, or that you are somehow actively complicit in it.

Peter: Which, just parenthetically, you could substitute literally anything for white fragility.

James: Other forms of privilege: male fragility, if a woman comes up and says you’re being toxically masculine, and you say, “I don’t think I am”, or they accuse you of hegemonic traditional masculinity, like you saw in the American Psychological Association’s report on how to deal with men and boys that came out last year, and you say, “I don’t think that’s what this is”, or, “the things you’re calling toxic masculinity in certain contexts certainly are a problem, but in other contexts, like, you know, a war, where we’re literally defending our soil, or what we had happen to see the other night, walking down the street, when all of a sudden see a sexual assault occurring.  And a couple of us decide to turn and intervene.  Sometimes that willingness to go do that, this toxic masculinity defend impulse is valuable.  To say that, would be “Oh, that’s male fragility. You’re afraid to engage in your anti-Patriarchy work.”

Michael: Right.  There is no win. [28:10]

Peter: There’s no way to win.  Not only is there no win, there’s perennial loss.

James: There’s perennial losing.  So let’s say you do capitulate.  You go along with it. Right?  “You did it wrong”.  No matter what you did, you did it wrong.  Why? Because Critical Race Theory, going back to its very founder  Derrick Bell, Law Professor at Harvard, operates off  what’s called the “Interest Convergence Theory”, which lead him to re-write history, but also to analyze events in terms of: you would only possibly decide to go along with Critical Race Theory as a privileged person for example, or do the anti-racism work, if you identified that it’s in your best interest to do so as a white person. 

So to position yourself – these are technical terms – as a Good White.  Barbara Applebaum is another one of these major Critical Race and Intersectionality Educators, the pedagogy theory scholars.  And she had a book a couple years ago called, “Being Good, Being White”.  And it’s talking about how – when you try and do the anti-racism work — unless you do it exactly to satisfaction – which is never quite possible – because of the “critical thing”, because of the Interest Convergence thing: it was actually in your interest. 

If you could go and try to make yourself less racist, and you go and try to help a minority that you feel has been excluded and do whatever to help them out, now you’re positioning yourself as a “Good White”.  You’re trying to give yourself extra status in this new community that you didn’t really earn, you’re just trying to make yourself look good for other people.

Peter: Imagine – back to the [SBC Article 9] resolutions – imagine the incredible extra epistemological and ontological baggage that seemingly innocuous statement brings in.

Michael: Right. [29:56] To the point where today there are many articles and books and so forth that are within the Evangelical community – this isn’t on the fringe – that are asking the question, “Can a white person be saved?”  “Can a white person be legitimately be considered a Christian?”

James: Well that’s not surprising at all.  Because the concept of privilege within Critical Race Theory or Intersectionality more generally I should say – operates in exact parallel to “total depravity.”  It is a form of power that corrupts you to want to maintain and preserve it.  Conditions you (white fragility) to not be willing to engage with the hard spiritual work of undoing that.

Michael: So then the introduction of something that would like a “woke” church, then, because you’re coming from a perspective that’s outside the church, and you hear someone with these concepts and ideologies are legitimizing the idea of a “woke” church.

James: You’ve got to think about it like this, though. You have the idea… Let’s say that you adopt Critical Race tools, and you adopt the idea that somehow white privilege is a sin, complicity with the problem, then remember, everyone is complicit, and whites benefit most, so that’s a sin, it’s a cardinal sin somehow attached to being white, whatever that actually means, given that people of all kinds of ethnicities are considered to be white, but the last tenet is, it’s never done.  It’s never accomplished. So that’s your sin, and there’s no way to work your sin off.  There’s no way to atone for your sin. [31:00]

[End of Transcript]

The overall discussion lasts for another hour, and there is much additional useful information concerning the contours and application of Progressive ideology; this video is essentially a Primer on the elements of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.  The conclusion of all three participants is that the introduction of this ideology is a recipe for disaster, regardless of where it is applied; the 2017 Evergreen State meltdown is a poster child.  The three were not aware of any “community” where this ideology has been put into practice where dissention and group destruction did not occur.