Christopher Cantwell launches a critical discussion of race theory during the Charlottesville trial

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Add federal courts to the list of American institutions now involved in the ever-growing discussion of critical race theory (CRT).

Authorities in Charlottesville, Virginia are currently working the trial of two dozen white nationalists and neo-Nazis linked to the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in the quiet university town.

One of the defendants in the case calls himself white nationalist and podcaster Christopher Cantwell, also known as the “crying nazi“For a weepy video he recorded after his attendance at the rally.

Mr. Cantwell represented himself in court and used Thursday’s proceedings to ask extremism scholar Pete Simi, who offered his expert testimony to the court on behalf of the plaintiffs, about the increasingly controversial academic concept he seeks to understand. the role racism plays in influencing American social institutions.

The right-wing defendant asked Simi if he is familiar with the anti-racist writings of scholars such as Ibram X Kendi and Robin DiAngelo, and if they should be considered critical of race theorists.

“Would it be fair to say that an understanding of critical racial theory is important to understanding white supremacy?” Mr. Cantwell asked, before continuing to argue that there are a variety of definitions of white supremacy that don’t all involve violence.

Lawyers for plaintiffs in the case, a group of nine who were physically and emotionally injured during the demonstration, eventually opposed the relevance of the interrogation lineand United States District Judge Norman Moon declared, “We’re not going down the road with critical race theory.”

During the trial, which seeks to involve a number of high-profile right-wing figures such as Richard Spencer, Mr. Cantwell opted for front-page plays, tell a podcast who considers her actions in the courtroom “a spoken performance, and I take this kind of thing seriously, especially when I found that people would be able to listen … I thought it was a huge opportunity both because of the cause and handy, and because I knew the world was listening. “

During his open statement, Mr. Cantwell was sentenced in February to 41 months in prison for threatening and attempting to extort a fellow neonazme and before Pleaded guilty to assault at the Charlottesville rally, Hitler’s name fell my fight and promoted his radio show.

The civil suit, filed with the help of the Integrity First America group under the Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871, seeks to show that neo-Nazis conspired in advance to cause racist violence during the event, which ended up killing the protester. Heather Heyer and hurting many others.

“That there will be accountability, that there will be justice, after these violent, racist, anti-Semitic and horrific events is incredibly important, not just for this community but for our country,” said Amy Spitalnick, the group’s executive director. Vice News ahead of trial, saying the case could have “very real financial, operational and legal effects on the ability of these groups and their leaders to operate.”

The defendants, meanwhile, claim to have engaged in a protected political speech during the demonstration.

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