On Tuesday, September 22, President Donald Trump signed a second executive order tackling the spread of ‘Critical Race Theory‘ ideology within federal institutions.

The first of the two EOs, signed on September 4, takes aim at federal employee sensitivity trainings using a ‘Critical Race Theory’ curriculum; the President issued the initial EO forbidding federal funding of such trainings after journalist Christopher Rufo exposed the role of CRT in workshops at federal nuclear labs—wherein White male employees were reportedly taught that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” simply by dint of their whiteness.

As summarized by the Office of Management and Budget, the September 4 EO directs “all agencies”:

…to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil. In addition, all agencies should begin to identify all available avenues within the law to cancel any such contracts and/or to divert Federal dollars away from these unAmerican propaganda training sessions.

Earlier this week the President broadened that mandate by extending the CRT-funding ban to the entire federal government, military, government contractors, and government grantees.

Trump’s latest EO cites multiple examples of how the use of Critical Race Theory has helped to actually promote racism in federal institutions:

Training materials from Argonne National Laboratories, a Federal entity, stated that racism “is interwoven into every fabric of America” and described statements like “color blindness” and the “meritocracy” as “actions of bias.”

Materials from Sandia National Laboratories, also a Federal entity, for non-minority males stated that an emphasis on “rationality over emotionality” was a characteristic of “white male[s],” and asked those present to “acknowledge” their “privilege” to each other.

A Smithsonian Institution museum graphic recently claimed that concepts like “[o]bjective, rational linear thinking,” “[h]ard work” being “the key to success,” the “nuclear family,” and belief in a single god are not values that unite Americans of all races but are instead “aspects and assumptions of whiteness.” The museum also stated that “[f]acing your whiteness is hard and can result in feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion, defensiveness, or fear.”

(See a piece of the Smithsonian discussion in question—published by the National Museum of African American History and Culture—below. We discussed the bizarre graphic in our July post Who said this? Signs of “Whiteness” Are Rugged Individualism, Nuclear Family, Scientific Method, and Work Ethic?, and we also noted when the museum removed the chart due to widespread backlash against it.

https://twitter.com/SRMandeles/status/1284164337888710660 https://twitter.com/SRMandeles/status/1284164337888710660

Ignoring these examples, critics of Trump’s Critical Race Theory EOs have framed them as measures that aim to prevent any sort of “diversity training” or acknowledgement of “the existence of racism and privilege” whatsoever.


But, ultimately, neither of the EOs discourage broad diversity trainings or workshops that discuss racism and inequity; they simply specify that the federal government should not fund programs built around the particular (and particularly toxic) intellectual framework of CRT. Moreover, any federally funded institution that is still interested in running CRT programs may still do so; it simply will then have to raise its own money via private donors, as many other organizations across the political spectrum have done for decades.

We should absolutely examine our nation’s history critically, and acknowledge the continuing damaging legacy of condemnable, racist institutions such as Jim Crow and chattel slavery. But we can do exactly that—and even investigate concepts such as privilege and power—without demonizing others based solely on their race or ethnicity.


Samantha Mandeles is Senior Researcher and Outreach Director at the Legal Insurrection Foundation.


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