Moderator Chris Wallace asked President Trump during Tuesday’s debate why he “directed federal agencies to end racial sensitivity training that addresses white privilege or critical race theory.” Mr. Trump answered: “I ended it because it’s racist.” Participants “were asked to do things that were absolutely insane,” he explained. “They were teaching people to hate our country.”
“Nobody’s doing that,” Joe Biden replied. He’s wrong.
My reporting on critical race theory in the federal government was the impetus for the president’s executive order, so I can say with confidence that these training sessions had nothing to do with developing “racial sensitivity.” As I documented in detailed reports for City Journal and the New York Post, critical race theory training sessions in public agencies have pushed a deeply ideological agenda that includes reducing people to a racial essence, segregating them, and judging them by their group identity rather than their individual merit.
The examples are instructive. At a series of events at the Treasury Department and federal financial agencies, diversity trainer Howard Ross taught employees that America was “built on the backs of people who were enslaved” and that all white Americans are complicit in the system of white supremacy “by automatic response to the ways [they’re] taught.” In accompanying documents, Ross argues that white employees can be reduced to the quality of “whiteness,” which is a form of inborn oppression, and must “struggle to own their racism.” He instructs “white managers” to conduct “listening sessions” in which black employees can explain “what it means to be Black” and be “seen in their pain,” with white employees instructed to “sit in their discomfort” and not “fill the silence” with their “own thoughts and feelings.” Black employees, Mr. Ross says, are not “obligated to like you, thank you, feel sorry for you, or forgive you.” For trainings like this, Mr. Ross and his firm have been paid $5 million over 15 years, according to federal disclosures.
At the Sandia National Laboratories, which develops technology for America’s nuclear arsenal, executives held a racially segregated training session for white male employees. The three-day event, which was led by a company called White Men As Full Diversity Partners, set the goal of examining “white male culture” and making the employees take responsibility for their “while privilege,” “male privilege” and “heterosexual privilege.” In one of the opening exercises, the instructors wrote on a whiteboard that “white male culture” can be associated with “white supremacists,” “KKK,” “Aryan Nation,” “MAGA hat” and “mass killings.” On the final day, the trainers asked the employees to write letters to women and people of color, with one participant apologizing for his privilege and another pledging to “be a better ally.”
At the Department of Homeland Security, diversity trainers held a session on “microaggressions,” based on the work of psychologist Derald Sue. In his academic work, Dr. Sue argues that white Americans have been “fed a racial curriculum based on falsehoods, unwarranted fears, and the belief in their own superiority,” and thus have been “socialized into oppressor roles.” Trainers taught Homeland Security employees that the “myth of meritocracy” and “color blindness” are foundations of racist “microaggressions” and “microinequities.” The trainers insisted that phrases such as “America is the land of opportunity,” “Everybody can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough,” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” are racist statements that harm people of color. They are merely code for “People of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder.” If a white employee disagrees, his or her point of view is dismissed as a “denial of individual racism” which the trainers deem another type of microaggression.
To any fair-minded observer, these are not “racial sensitivity trainings,” as Mr. Wallace described them at the presidential debate. They are political indoctrination sessions. While this misrepresentation is a disappointment, it isn’t a surprise. Progressive activists and their media enablers have lately been manipulating words to massage the truth: violent riots have become “mostly peaceful protests” and “defund the police” has become “reimagine public safety.” If Mr. Trump and the Republicans want to win the election, they must quickly break through this blockade of euphemisms and educate American voters about the facts. When the debate shifts from generalizations to specifics, progressives will find themselves defending the indefensible.
Originally published at the Wall Street Journal on October 4th, 2020.