The Truth About Critical Race Theory

Originally posted at the Wall Street Journal.

Trump is right. Training sessions for government employees amounted to political indoctrination.

By Christopher F. Rufo Oct. 4, 2020 4:06 pm ET

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 document 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 individual character, behavior and merit.

The examples are instructive. At a series of events at the Treasury Department and federal financial agencies, diversity trainer Howard Rosstaught employees that America was “built on the backs of people who were enslaved” and that all white Americans are complicit in a system of white supremacy “by automatic response to the ways we’re taught.” 

In accompanying documents, Mr. Ross argues that whites share an inborn oppressive streak. “Whiteness,” employees are told, “includes white privilege and white supremacy.” Consequently, whites “struggle to own their racism.” He instructs managers to conduct “listening sessions” in which black employees can speak about their experience and be “seen in their pain,” while white employees are instructed to “sit in the discomfort” and not “fill the silence with your own thoughts and feelings.” Members of “the group you’re allying with,” Mr. Ross says, are not “obligated to like you, thank you, feel sorry for you, or forgive you.” For training 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 “white 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 employees to write letters to women and people of color. One participant apologized for his privilege and another pledged 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, Mr. 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” is a foundation of racist microaggressions and “microinequities.” The trainers insisted that statements 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 and harmful—merely code for “People of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder.” If a white employee disagrees, his point of view is dismissed as a “denial of individual racism”—another type of microaggression.

To any fair-minded observer, these are not “racial sensitivity trainings,” as Mr. Wallace described them at the debate. They are political indoctrination sessions. While this misrepresentation is a disappointment, it isn’t a surprise. Progressive activists and their media enablers routinely manipulate words to conceal 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.

Mr. Rufo is director of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth and Poverty.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.


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