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Jodi Shaw’s battle with Smith College may be ending, but the war against Critical Race Theory has just begun

Michael Rectenwald
Michael Rectenwald

is an author of 11 books, including the most recent, Thought Criminal. He was Professor of Liberal Arts at NYU from 2008 through 2019. Follow him on Twitter @TheAntiPCProf

is an author of 11 books, including the most recent, Thought Criminal. He was Professor of Liberal Arts at NYU from 2008 through 2019. Follow him on Twitter @TheAntiPCProf

Jodi Shaw’s battle with Smith College may be ending, but the war against Critical Race Theory has just begun
The former employee's battle against the Massachusetts based school is a sign of the times and, hopefully, of things to come. It’s long past time this pernicious ideology got the scrutiny and repudiation it so richly deserves.

After over a year of combating Critical Race Theory (CRT) at Smith, Jodi Shaw finally submitted her letter of resignation to President Kathleen McCartney. She thereby relinquished her position as a Student Support Coordinator in Student Affairs, which earned her a whopping $45,000 per year.

But, you see, Jodi Shaw is “privileged,” and, according to the CRT experts at Smith College and elsewhere, her privilege needs to be eradicated. She needs to be subjected to CRT’s racial profiling, struggle sessions, and shaming routines in order to root out her secret disease. Seeing no end in sight, Shaw finally decided she’d had enough. 

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The ins and outs of Shaw’s battles with Smith follow a predictable pattern. I’m not surprised that the college has attempted to discredit her. In fact, having been the subject of NYU’s attempts to discredit me after I criticized social justice ideology at NYU and across academia at large, I’d be surprised if they hadn’t launched their campaign of administrative gaslighting

But the intricacies of Shaw’s case at Smith College are less important than the war it represents. The war is with a regime bent on silencing dissent and forcing submission to its essentialist, racist, totalitarian worldview. The objective of this ideology is to shame the majority into accepting that their way of life has come at the expense of racial injustice, and they must forfeit its benefits. They must scrutinize and humiliate themselves, forever.

Racism, this ideology holds, is everywhere. It is present in inscrutable ways in every aspect of society. And racism and white supremacism are permanent, short of the vicious cleansing routines administered by those who wield their identities as weapons. 

According to CRT, every aspect of society is racially inflected, and every dominant attitude is based in white supremacy. Expecting people to be on time: racist. Professionalism: white supremacism. Believing in meritocracy: white supremacy. Perfectionism, a sense of urgency, a preference for the written word, binary thinking: white supremacist.

Being white: racist.

Any resistance to the tenets of CRT on the part of white people is white fragility and a sure sign of racism. Any denial on the part of black people, on the other hand, is evidence of internalized racism or false consciousness, a result of being socialized into a white supremacist culture. The only acceptable position is to concede and consent to the premises of CRT. Anything less is racism and white supremacism. 

Thus, while racism itself may not be omnipresent in America and beyond, the consciousness of racism surely is. 

This is the theory that Jodi Shaw faced at Smith College, and to which she rightly objected. Her resistance to “racial sensitivity training,” a phrase that CRT uses to mask its racial fundamentalism, was taken as evidence of her own racism. Once she admitted to her discomfort during a training session, her fate was sealed.

Shaw launched her campaign in a widely viewed video in which she requests that Smith College end its adherence to CRT. “I ask that Smith College stop reducing my personhood to a racial category… Stop telling me what I must think and feel about myself… Stop presuming to know who I am or that my culture is based upon my skin color… Stop asking me to project stereotypes and assumptions based upon their skin color...” 

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Turning the tables on CRT, Shaw denounced it as racist, as a way of reducing people to their phenotypes. Shaw asked that Smith cease its campaign of racial essentialism and treat its students and staff as individuals. This is the classical liberal viewpoint that Shaw apparently learned as a student at Smith, and which is under assault there and throughout the entire Western world. 

Jodi Shaw is a David in a David and Goliath tale—until more warriors join the fray. It’s time to eradicate this pernicious ideology, before it’s too late. 

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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