Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.
Except for this part:
All these different ideas grow out of longstanding, tenacious intellectual debates. Critical race theory emerged out of postmodernist thought, which tends to be skeptical of the idea of universal values, objective knowledge, individual merit, Enlightenment rationalism, and liberalism—tenets that conservatives tend to hold dear.
I’ve never known a conservative to hold that kind of principled perspective. I’m guessing the author was trying to be charitable, but mainly what I’ve encountered is conservatives trying to rationalize their beliefs, which they acquired by tradition and upbringing rather than by actual reason. Claiming to be a “classical liberal” or that they hold “Enlightenment values” is just an excuse that sounds good…unless, of course, the values they are endorsing are imperialism, colonialism, and the inherent superiority of Western European culture. I can believe they sincerely agree with those aspects of the Enlightenment.
What we’ve got is a set of feel-good labels that obscure the complexity of what the phenomena named actually mean. It’s like saying “I like Thai food” without any further specification.