William S. Lind provides a well summarized explanation of Critical Race Theory and it's relation to the Frankfurt School. I've heard these terms and understood how they related to one another, but I haven't seen all the key words and key concepts summarized in one, easy to read document. This will be my reference in explaining it to others:
To his great credit, President Trump recently ordered an end to “anti-racism” training for federal employees and contractors. A number of articles discussing his actions have referred to “critical race theory”. What is “critical race theory”?
Critical race theory is a subset of critical theory, which in turn is a central element in cultural Marxism. Like the bulk of that hideous ideology, it was created by the Frankfurt School, formally the Institute for Social Research, a Marxist think-tank founded in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1923 (it still exists). When Hitler came to power, the Frankfurt School relocated to New York City, where it remained until 1947 when it returned to Frankfurt.
The Frankfurt School translated Marxism from economic into cultural terms. The Frankfurt School’s primary goal was to destroy Western culture, which it defined as “oppressive”. Critical theory is a tool to that end.
The term is something of a play on words. What is the theory? The theory is to criticize. By submitting every aspect of Western culture to constant, unremitting criticism, it would be discredited to the point where people would abandon the ways of thinking and living it embodied. What would replace them? The Frankfurt School refused to answer that question, although one of its key members, Herbert Marcuse, promised a world of all play and no work. In the 1960s, college students in large numbers believed that promise, which is the philosophical equivalent of buying the Brooklyn Bridge.
Critical theory now wells up around us in many different forms. Feminism endlessly criticizes the family, marriage, and traditional definitions of men’s and women’s roles. Education theory demands children be taught certain “attitudes”, including disrespect for parents and elders, rather than skills or facts. Critical race theory says that all whites are inherently evil “racists” and “oppressors”, regardless of what individuals do. It demands whites grovel at the feet of blacks, endlessly apologizing for “discrimination” and “white privilege”. Even if whites do what it demands, critical race theory continues to denounce them. Like the rest of critical theory, its demands can never be satisfied, because then the criticism would end. Remember, the theory is to criticize, endlessly, relentlessly, until any defenders of Western culture or traditional ways of living are silenced, “cancelled” or liquidated.
Critical theory, in all its forms, says its goal is “equality”. This goal can never be achieved, because nature has made people unequal. So the criticism must go on forever. But cultural Marxism’s desire for “equality” is also a lie. What it actually seeks to do is invert all existing relationships, relationships that have evolved over many generations and reflect reality. Inversion includes putting blacks over whites, women over men, and gays over straights. That was exactly what the “anti-racism training” President Trump cancelled was about: whites were to crawl on their bellies before blacks, submitting themselves to whatever demands blacks made of them. Sometimes this was literal: showing that critical race theory had conquered him, the head of Chick-fil-a said every white man should shine a black man’s shoes, then he did exactly that, on camera. I don’t know about you, but I’ve eaten my last Chick-fil-a sandwich.
The essence of critical theory is that it can never be satisfied. So why should we try? If cultural Marxists denounce us as “racists”, “sexists”, or “homophobes”, who cares? Their boogeyman words have no real power, and they are all lies. Men and women are inherently different and their traditional social roles reflect their inborn differences. There are differences among races and ethnic groups within races. Does anyone think the Cleveland Cavaliers would have won the NBA championship if the team had been all-white? Or that Sub-saharan Africa would be what it is today if it were inhabited by Chinese? Who pretends there are no differences between, say, Irishmen and Russians? How many people, looking for a good time on a Saturday night, go to a Russian bar? And moral disapproval is not a “phobia”, an irrational fear.
President Trump showed courage in the face of cultural Marxism and we should do the same. Break its rules, defy its commands, thumb your nose at its lies, and expose what it really is: a Marxist ideology no less totalitarian in its ambitions that was the economic Marxism of the Soviet Union. As Rod Dreher wrote, live not by lies.