In September 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning federal agencies and contractors from conducting training sessions based on critical race theory. Specifically, the order banned “race or sex stereotyping,” “race or sex scapegoating,” and teaching that “an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.” In short, the executive order made sure that all training sessions complied with the basic framework of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: there is no place for racism in the federal government.
In a healthy society, this would be uncontroversial. After all, until just recently, Americans of all political backgrounds seemed to agree that racial stereotyping, scapegoating, and harassment are unacceptable, especially in the workplace. However, with the rise of the academic movement known as critical race theory (CRT), progressives in academia and the bureaucracy have revived the ugly concepts of race essentialism and race-based guilt, arguing that white Americans can be reduced to the quality of “whiteness” and must undergo rigorous reeducation to atone for their inborn “white privilege,” “white fragility,” and “internalized racial superiority.”
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris reversed Trump’s executive order immediately upon taking office. This was a fulfilment of their campaign promises to stress “equity” and oppose “race-neutral policies.” Articles have proliferated in the press celebrating this reversal of Trump’s supposedly “damaging” and “harmful” “position on racism.” The Biden/Harris regime has embraced the philosophy of critical race theory, which explicitly rejects the American principles of individual rights, meritocracy, and equality under the law. This administration has shown itself committed to apologias for CRT, and we can expect much more of the same in the years to come.
During the campaign, Never Trump conservatives and moderate liberals argued that Biden would govern as a centrist and restrain the worst impulses of wokeness. They were wrong, and probably knew it. Even before the election Biden signaled his intention to implement an “FDR-style first 100 days,” using executive orders to advance a broad agenda on “racial injustice”—which in its execution has borrowed heavily from the critical race activists who dominate the intellectual world of the modern Left.
This week the federal Department of Education announced plans to distribute grants to public schools that agree to implement CRT-influenced pedagogy that stresses “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically responsive teaching and learning practices,” which “contribute to what has been called an ‘identity-safe’ learning environment.” Specifically citing the New York Times’ flawed and tendentious 1619 Project and the work of Ibram X. Kendi as models, the proposed new federal rule would center the “social identities” and “the diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences” of students in establishing, as Kendi says, “that racist po