The key to outrunning a bear, as the old joke goes, is not to outrun the bear at all — just outrun the slowest person in your group. Opinion columnists operate under similar principles. The key to being a successful one isn’t to write the best opinions — just write better opinions than the worst ones.
This brings me to last week’s guarantee of job security, an opinion column published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal titled, “Critical race theory falls apart when you consider what happened in Afghanistan.” The thesis Victor Joecks advances while he’s getting mauled by a bear is that, contrary to the supposedly anti-American ideas presented by some proponents of “critical race theory,” the United States military is a force for good, actually, at least when compared to the likes of the Taliban. If it wasn’t, why are there so many Afghan refugees trying to escape to the irredeemably racist United States?
I put “critical race theory” in quotes because, as I’ve explained once before, good luck pinning down what anyone is actually talking about when they bring it up these days. On one side of the fence is a group inspired primarily by the Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo (an individual mentioned favorably as a source in Joecks’ piece) who, and I’m paraphrasing him, seeks to “decodify the term” and “recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.” This might actually have succeeded if those arguing against this version of “critical race theory” actually knew which range of cultural constructions are unpopular with Americans — but because the people responsible for the “recodification” were a bunch of too-online conservatives trying to outdo each other for attention, status, and funding, they recodified “critical race theory” as the set of cultural constructions which