by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A little dust-up on Twitter this week revealed something important about the ongoing debate over critical race theory and public education, plus the state of elite academia — namely, that much of what the left calls “anti-racism” is actually just regular old racism, shoddily repackaged.
Here’s what happened. An innocuous comment from Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney, suggesting we need to teach natural law in public schools, prompted Matthew J. Peterson to reply that it’s not enough to ban critical race theory, we need to replace it with natural law. This in turn inspired Yale University philosophy professor Jason Stanley to aver (in a since-deleted tweet) that natural law is “a dogwhistle to white Christian Nationalism.”
Boy, that escalated quickly. And it didn’t stop there. The back-and-forth unleashed a string of outraged tweets about natural law, mostly from people who don’t seem to know what natural law is, confusing it for social Darwinism or some such. Stanley got some pushback for his gross mischaracterization of natural law and then complained, disingenuously, about “intentional misrepresentation” (later claiming his tweet was meant to be sarcastic) before logging off Twitter, saying, “This was a failure.”
Indeed it was, but the failure is deeper than professor Stanley is likely to admit. He wrote a book about fascism and teaches in the philosophy department of an Ivy League university, so he should know that natural law has nothing to do with white Christian nationalism. He should also know that suggesting, as Peterson did, that an education grounded in natural law is infinitely superior to one grounded is critical race theory isn’t some kind of racist dogwhistle.
Indeed, he should know that natural law stands in stark opposition to racism of any kind, because it posits that all human beings, regardless of their race or any other characteristic, have inherent rights. …