I appeared last week on Allie Beth Stucky’s Relatable Podcast (video and transcript below), to talk about the new website developed by the Legal Insurrection Foundation, criticalrace.org.

You can read the background at Legal Insurrection launches ‘Critical Race Training In Higher Education’ website and can view my appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight here.

The benefit of the podcast format it that it provides time to discuss issues in depth, and that is what we did.

The video is immediately below, and the transcript (auto generated) below that.



ABS: Professor Jacobson, Thank you so much for joining me. You started this website, criticalrace.org. Can you tell us what it is and why you started it?

WAJ: Well, the, what it is, it’s a website devoted to documenting critical race training on campuses around the United States. And what it is is we have a map of the United States. We have, various school entries, and you can hover over the map and click on your state and click on your school and see what activities they have going on.

Now, some of the activities you may like, some of the activities you may not like, it’s actually a very neutral database. While we have our own views of critical race training, and we don’t think it’s helpful to education, nonetheless, this is a resource that really anybody can use. And that’s what it is. Most of what we have on there are things the schools tell themselves, the schools tell their students. Everything is sourced and everything is linked, no rumors or anything like that. And so there’s a link for everything and you can see what’s going on.

Now, his is not a list of schools to avoid. We don’t take a view on any particular school. It’s really a resource for parents and students, so they know what they’re getting themselves into if the student attends this college.

Now, the reason I created it was I’ve been watching a lot of these developments over the years, and I follow them. I have a website called Legal Insurrection and we have followed these things, but it really crystallized last spring in June when the president of Cornell University assigned as suggested reading to the entire campus, the book, How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram Kendi, And in fact, that book was going to be the basis for summer discussions at Cornell University. And they made it available to everybody free of charge online, electronically.

So I went and I read it and I was actually pretty shocked because the philosophy there is quite discriminatory. It’s actually the opposite of what Cornell’s non-discrimination policy is. He explicitly advocates, current discrimination in order to remedy past discrimination. So it’s an advocacy for discrimination.

It also sets up a very coercive paradigm, which is you are either “anti-racist,” and that’s the word, or you are racist. There’s no in-between. So the traditional American civil rights notion of treating people fairly without regard to skin color, et cetera, has no place in that universe. You’re either with them or you’re against them. And if you’re not with them, you are racist. He refuses to recognize any concept of being non-racist. A non-racist is somebody who simply goes around, treating everybody equally, is in fact racist unless they become an activist. So this was very alarming to me.

That was furthered when in July of that year, the President of the university announced that she was starting an initiative to push anti-racism, teaching and training into every aspect of the university. Now she left the details to be worked out by the faculty Senate and others, but the topics, included curriculum possible, mandatory course requirements for students, possible mandatory training for faculty. And so this was extremely alarming to me, and so we started to look into critical race training, anti-racism training and gather the data.

But what really pushed us over the edge to starting this website is feeding off of what the university had announced, several hundred faculty, students and staff signed an open set of demands in September fulfilling or calling for the university to fulfill this anti-racist initiative. And some of the things they called for included explicit discrimination in hiring and promotion, they called for racial discrimination and promotion in hiring. That certain people of certain races should be hired and promoted above others, which is completely shocking because that’s actually illegal. What’s even more shocking is that numerous law school faculty signed onto this.

And now it’s over at the Faculty Senate. So it would actually, and I’ve gone back over my timeline here, actually was after the September set of demands that we made the decision to construct a separate website because we don’t feel that parents and students know what’s going on. The way I was feeling is somebody applying to Cornell has no clue what is really going on on this campus. I’m not saying they shouldn’t apply. All I’m saying is people need to know, and that’s what our website does.

ABS: And tell me what you think the practical implications of this kind of anti-racist theory would be, obviously a discrimination, at least when it comes to admissions or when it comes to choosing faculty. What other consequences do you think this has for students versus society in general, if we are saying the only way to rectify past wrongs is to now commit wrongs against other groups today,

WAJ: Right. And now that you mention it, I haven’t thought of it this way. This whole philosophy is essentially two wrongs make a right, which we’ve all been taught or most of us have been taught as children is not actually a good thing.

So what I think it does, it really creates a fissure on campus, because you are either with them or you are against them. And if you’re against them, by definition, you are racist.

Forget about what your views are, forget about how you conduct your life. And so you set up this conflict on campus of the anti-racist versus the racists, but it’s completely constructed by them. It’s not reality. Most people on campus are non-racist. They go about their life. They don’t get involved in politics. They don’t get involved in activism. They treat everybody fairly. They don’t discriminate. That whole cohort of people, who is almost certainly a majority of students on campus, are now branded racist.

And that is a coercive tool that is used for political purposes on campuses. We see it all the time, but particularly this year, it’s us versus them. And I think that’s entirely a negative for a campus. It’s also very coercive. You don’t learn things by being coerced. The school might be able to force you as a freshmen or sophomore to take a course where they teach this stuff. And we all know the vast, vast majority of students are just going to sit there and shake their head and go along to get along, because they don’t want to be called names. But it doesn’t change any minds. It doesn’t convince anybody. It perpetuates what’s been going on that they claim is negative.

So I think what’s the downside. It brands, people who are not racist as racist, because that’s the way they’ve constructed it. It demonizes large sections of the campus. It coerces large sections of the campus and it doesn’t change any minds. I don’t know how it could get any worse than that.

ABS: Right. And we kind of skipped skipped by in academia or just in society in general, in politics, in the social and cultural sphere. Uh, the debate of the premise of critical race theory, which is that America, even in 2021 is systemically and pervasively racist. And therefore everyone in particular who is white is at least complicit, if not actively a part of all of these racist systems. And you could see how, if you believe that, and that is your premise, how people who don’t fight to dismantle that kind of systemic racism, in the same way that you would say someone who sees bullying happen and just walks right by it, well, that’s not enough, you need to fight against that bully. You could see how Ibram X. Kendi goes to his, gets to his conclusion, if you believe in the premise that America is systemically racist in 2021. But I would say that is debatable at best. And we’re not even allowed to push back against that premise to say, is America in 2021 systemically racist to where we actually do need to discriminate against other other groups in order to make other groups feel better or to lift them up, right?

WAJ: That’s right. They set the parameters of the conversation, and the parameter of the conversation is that we need to upend our society because it’s systemically racist. Now I don’t accept that that’s true. There may be inequalities. There are inequalities in many aspects of life, but systemically we’re actually anti-racist. We have laws, we have enforcement, we have bureaucracies. The law does not sanction racism. That is what a systemically racist society would be, where the law actually upholds racism and it doesn’t here. So it’s not a systemically racist.

That’s not to say there aren’t things that can be improved, but they have created this construct where everything needs to be torn down. And if you’re standing in the way of that, you must be complicit in the system. And if you are supporting the system, they call you a white supremacist. Now I’m old enough that when people, when I grew up in people were called white supremacist, it was people who had explicitly racist views. It was not people who simply support the existing system we have. Maybe want to improve it, maybe want to, you know, do other things. And so they, they demonize people and they try to set people back on their heels by applying phrases to them and characterizations to them, which are not actually accurate.

And I think the one thing you’ve pointed out, the systemic racism is a very pernicious view of things. Because if that is the truth, then everything needs to be torn down. And we know that’s not true. We are a system which tries to enforce non-discrimination. We have non-discrimination laws. Campuses more than anything have enormous bureaucracies devoted to non-discrimination. It’s the priority on virtually every campus on this country. So I think that this notion that we need to tear everything down and we need to brand everyone who doesn’t agree with us as a racist is so pernicious. And it’s really, I think, tearing a lot of campuses apart.

ABS: Yeah. And, you know, I think some people would argue that there actually is discrimination on college campuses, but it’s not against, um, it’s against groups like Asian Americans, perhaps, or white Americans in the admissions process. There have been people that argued that that is actually a form of institutionalized discrimination and racism against groups that are typically not seen as the victims of that. And so that would meet Ibram X. Kendi’s definition of what it means to be anti-racist to actually discriminate to try to make up for past discrimination. My last question for you is what parents and what a potential university students need to be on the lookout for when they’re trying to figure out if the college that they are applying to, if it teaches things like this, because a lot of times it’s covered in euphemisms like diversity and inclusion training, what do they need to be looking for?

WAJ: I think you’re right. They use the euphemism of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and equity is the key word because equity does not mean equality. A lot of people mistake that they think equity equality, it’s the same thing. Equity is equal results. And that’s why sometimes in Kendi’s view and other views, you have to discriminate to get those equal results, because we know historically for reasons that have nothing to do with race, that different groups perform differently in different aspects of society. And that’s a natural occurrence. It’s not necessarily the result of racism,  it’s the result of a complicated set of factors.

On campuses now, and there’ve been lawsuits, there is a lawsuit against Harvard that I think is going to end up in the U S Supreme court challenging the affirmative action that Harvard has. And the people who were most discriminated against statistically, were Asian Americans or people of Asian descent who had to receive some enormous, multiple higher on sat scores and grades to be treated fairly, who had a one 10th chance with the same grades and sat scores of getting in.

And that’s really at the forefront. And that really shows the complexity of this issue. There are systems in place now meant to address historic discrimination, which themselves may be discriminating. And the courts will have to decide that, but that is, I think one of the conundrums here. We saw this out in California, where there was a proposition passed, I think it was 30 years ago, I might be off on the number of years,  to essentially do away with affirmative action in higher ed admissions as discriminatory. So it basically said you cannot discriminate on the basis of race and other factors in admission. And that essentially did away with affirmative action. And there was just a proposition this year in a year when Biden won, where they were going to undo that and they would now allow a discriminatory admissions practices and it lost significantly in California.

So I think, you know, we have to sometimes put aside the people who run the campuses and the student activists who run the campuses from the rest of the population. I don’t believe a lot of these practices are actually popular in the general population. I don’t believe they’re popular among non-whites even, because I think most people in the country recognize that discrimination is a bad thing, no matter who it is against. And I don’t think that a lot of other racial or ethnic minorities necessarily adopt these proposals because they statistically have been the victims over the last several years.

ABS: Yup. You’re absolutely right. I think most people agree that meritocracy is fair. Most people agree and true equality, not this convoluted definition of equity. Most people agree that we shouldn’t be discriminating against any group in pursuit of some kind of cosmic and tangible anti-racist, uh, justice, Ibram X. Kendi’s definition of justice. Anyway, thank you so much for what you do. Thank you for creating this website, sent anyone, uh, you know, anywhere that you want them to go to your websites or to any work that you’ve written, tell them how they can support you.

WAJ: The website that we just created is called criticalrace.org. My main website is legalinsurrection.com. That’s legalinsurrection.com. That’s a politics and law website, which deals with a lot of other issues, or you can just Google my name and you’ll find out plenty about me, some good, some not so good.

ABS: Well, thank you so much, professor. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Take care.


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