Analysis

Critical Race Theory Comes To US-China Policy

(Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Gage Klipper Contributor
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China’s economic, political, and military power has markedly increased under President Xi Jinping as he seeks to supplant America’s global leadership role. But it’s racist if you notice — so shut up, you bigot.

This is the lunacy put forward by journalism and political science professor Peter Beinart in a New York Times guest essay. Couched in the language of social science and feigned moral authority, Beinart argues that Republicans’ “Asia First” approach — prioritizing a counterbalance against China’s rise as America’s primary foreign policy concern — conceals much more nefarious motives.

“[T]he problem with Republicans’ return to Asia First,” he concludes, is that “[m]any in the party don’t only see China’s rise as a threat to American power. They see it as a threat to white Christian power, too.” This is critical race theory applied to U.S.-China relations, and like CRT’s domestic explanations for everything from policing to meritocracy, the argument is quite the stretch.

Beinart traces modern Republican China policy to the “spiritual paternalism” of the 19th Century, when China held a “special allure” for Christian missionaries interested in “winning souls for Christ.” He cherry-picks quotes from mid-century Republican leaders to argue that the party believed Cold War “commitments were a distraction” from the “real menace” on the “other side of the globe.” Republicans were supposedly more interested in “supporting the Nationalist exiles” in Taiwan, whose leaders “were Christians themselves,” and “used this religious connection to drum up American support.”

While Beinart acknowledges that China’s current posture warrants a pivot for more than just “religious reasons,” the secular explanation apparently only applies to Democrats. He cites Gallup poll data that shows Democrats are 23 percent more likely to view Russia as a “greater enemy than China” while Republicans said the reverse by a “whopping” margin of 64 percent. He cites Pew data that shows white evangelicals are more likely than other groups to hold a “very unfavorable” view of China. (RELATED: China-Aligned Networks Targeted Candidates And ‘Posed As American Voters’ On Social Media: REPORT)

Beinart therefore concludes that Republicans view Russia as a “defender of conservative Christian values” and China as a “nonwhite superpower whose regime has spurned the Christian destiny many Americans once envisioned for it.”

As a social scientist, Beinart should know better than to confuse correlation with causation. Perhaps it is not religiosity that drives this discrepancy, but patriotism, economic status or partisan affiliation itself. Republicans view communist China as a greater threat to the idea of the nation, while Democrats hate Russia for the much more superficial reason of “Orange Man Bad.” The post-industrial Trump base is more likely to have been economically impacted by globalization over the past three decades, which saw working class interests sold off to China. Perhaps voters aren’t Republicans because they view China unfavorably, but view China unfavorably because they are Republicans. There are many alternative explanations besides white supremacist missionary zeal.

In ignoring the alternatives, Beinart takes the leap from reason to blind faith. Missionary zeal today is far less a hallmark of the Christian communities he derides, than it is part-and-parcel of contemporary left-wing thought. Critical theory, which dictates so much of American society, is indeed a secular religion. While it was born in the West, and generally is used to dismantle domestic laws and norms, Beinart takes a more dangerous step in applying it against America’s adversaries.

If white supremacy is the “most significant domestic terrorism threat facing the United States,” — according to the FBI, DOJ, DHS, and House Democrats — then what does that imply about Republican foreign policy on China? Should not all people of sound mind and good conscience come together to thwart “terrorism” against China’s sovereign power?

Ironically, this would make the Democrats a “paternalist” force — helping a nation perceived as too weak to save itself from the scourge of white supremacy. It is liberals today who continue the tradition of white, Christian saviorism more than anyone else, as they seek to “liberate” the non-white masses from the supposed racism of a system they themselves control.

More importantly, however, this analysis plays directly into China’s hands. China consistently uses American leaders’ own indictments of the system against them, attacking the U.S. over racism and inequality in international forums and documenting America’s so-called “human rights violations.” Xi is fixated on retribution for China’s “Century of Humiliation,” the period between mid-19th and mid-20th centuries where China was “gradually reduced by foreign powers to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society that suffered greater ravages.”

In these attacks, China seeks to undermine the moral legitimacy of American constitutionalism over the Chinese totalitarian system — distracting from its own record of aggression and human rights violations by pointing the finger at ours. (RELATED: ‘That Is Crap’: Biden, Xi Had Heated Argument Over Alleged Biolabs In Ukraine, Book Says)

Americans should possess the national self-confidence to understand the objective absurdity of drawing a moral equivalence between a country that strives perpetually toward greater liberty and equality and a system of domination and repression. Beinart not only props up this absurdity, but actually implies powerful forces in U.S. have long been the aggressor — justifying China’s grievances and the moral posture it seeks to hold against the West.

By denigrating half of the American public in this way, the piece reveals the deeper rot critical theory has brought to American life. Many can longer view America as a nation, but as a group of tribes unfortunately sharing the same land mass. If we cannot even agree to unite against a powerful foe that openly seeks to displace us, then there is little hope in coming together on much else.