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Letters: A critical theory

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A critical theory

David L. Hudson Jr.’s article “Legislators Take Aim at Critical Race Theory,” February-March, page 20, casts opponents of critical race theory as reactionaries standing athwart to progress. Foremost, it takes the position that critical race theory is not a defined concept, but assuming that it were, it pervades U.S. law to the point that a “fundamental reorientation of legal studies on race” is called for to remedy the injustice.

While it is difficult to take a position on a point that isn’t clearly defined, that has not deterred commenters of all stripes from the attempt. Critical race theory proponents claim the recent backlash springs forth from a wide variety of sources. These include the recent denial of a second term to the 45th president, the imminent minority-majority status of nonwhite voters and increased parental supervision of their children’s curriculum stemming from the coronavirus. Critical race theory proponents elide from their narratives the factors that other conditions, such as disability and class, may have upon the judicial system and economic outcomes.

Persons with disabilities broadly suffer from diminished opportunities and negative outcomes throughout American society. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, persons with a disability have far lower education attainment than the general public. Twenty-one percent of persons with disabilities have not completed high school versus 10% of the general public. Moreover, persons with disabilities make up more than one-half of American adults living in long-term poverty. These statistics are relevant in that disability—rather than race alone—is strongly correlated with adverse economic and criminal justice outcomes.

Placed within the context of the newly reenergized social justice movement, critical race theory advocates do not address the societal needs of persons with disabilities. As long as this glaring omission remains, attaining fundamental justice by virtue of evaluating this America’s history through the lens of critical race theory will remain an incomplete endeavor.

James Morgan
Washington, D.C.

Arms talks

I am quite concerned that “Race to the Bottom,” February-March, page 11, does not represent as careful of an elucidation of the topics upon which it touches as one expects of an article published in the house organ of the American Bar Association.

I do understand that it expresses the opinions of the author, Liane Jackson. Nonetheless, it ignores some well-established facts and seems to misstate some others.

The beginning of the article seems to imply that guns are generally unnecessary for self-defense and are more likely to provoke than quell violence. This ignores the fact that almost all government security personnel are armed. It also ignores the fact that many private institutions, such as banks, employ armed guards.

The author may well feel that her sense of personal safety would not at all be enhanced by carrying a firearm. In at least two situations she mentions—“the scene of a crime” and a “SWAT standoff”—she would be in the presence of armed law enforcement officers. She certainly acknowledges at least one incident in which she was accompanied by an armed photographer.

It is not appropriate in an ABA Journal article to pejoratively refer to persons who have come to a different judgment on the value of owning a gun for personal safety as “fixated on gun ownership.” One may dispute the representativeness of specific stories of violent crime being deterred by an armed civilian, but their existence certainly prevents one from reaching a balanced view that there is no reasonable basis for wanting to own a firearm.

The author provides absolutely no justification for concluding that the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict would have been different if he had been a Black man. One does not have to agree with the verdict in that case to recognize that there was credible evidence presented at trial to justify it, including testimony that one shooting victim was about to strike Rittenhouse in the head with a skateboard and the admission of another, who survived, that he was shot after pointing a gun at Rittenhouse.

Interestingly, the author neglects to mention that in neither the George Floyd case nor the Jacob Blake case has any evidence been adduced that the [incidents] were in any way attributable to racial animus.

In the latter case, it was concluded that Officer Rusten Sheskey was justified in believing that Blake was going for a weapon. While one can disagree with that factual conclusion, it is difficult to attribute Sheskey’s exoneration to “unjust laws” or even “unequal protection.”

If the author was aware of a single jurisdiction in the U.S. in which carrying an assault rifle at a tense public protest makes out a case for “criminal menacing,” she should have identified it. All 50 U.S. states have self-defense doctrines that require the prosecutor prove the defendant was not acting in self-defense if the defendant interposes such a defense.

Finally, Kyle Rittenhouse may have exercised poor judgment in showing up in his close relative’s nearby town with an assault rifle, but no evidence has been adduced to show he did so “to demonstrate the dominance of the white power structure.” Certainly, there is no question that the demonstrators he went to face off against caused substantial property damage in Kenosha, and he certainly did not provoke anyone to do so.

Lawrence Pope

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