Last month, President Trump took two key actions to fight divisive race and sex ideologies.
The first was a September 4 Memorandum from Russ Vought, Director of the Office of Management and Budget. memo relayed President Trump’s orders that Federal agencies “cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund … un-American propaganda [diversity] training sessions,” including those which teach concepts such as “white privilege,” Critical Race Theory (CRT), or that the United States, or any racial group, is inherently racist.
The second was Executive Order 13950 of September 22, Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping. The order bans race and sex stereotyping or scapegoating materials, not only in the federal workforce but also by those who contract with or receive grants from the federal government.
Trump’s actions were prompted by the research of Christopher F. Rufo, who discovered that Treasury Department employee training seminars claimed that “virtually all White people … contribute to racism” and that “narratives” encouraging Americans to be color-blind should be avoided.
He also found that other federal entities, such as national research laboratories, made similar claims that racism “is interwoven into every fabric of America” and that color blindness and meritocracy are actually “actions of bias.” Such entities also said that “rationality over emotionality” was a characteristic of “white males” and asked employees to acknowledge their “privilege.”
Executive Order 13950 asserts, “All of this is contrary to the fundamental premises underpinning our Republic: that all individuals are created equal and should be allowed an equal opportunity under the law to pursue happiness and prosper based on individual merit.”
It then announced, “Therefore, it shall be the policy of the United States not to promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in the Federal workforce or in the Uniformed Services, and not to allow grant funds to be used for these purposes. In addition, Federal contractors will not be permitted to inculcate such views in their employees.”
With these actions, the president has put the spotlight on pernicious, socially Marxist ideologies that have no endpoint other than to divide Americans. They reopen rather than heal old wounds and distract from—if not altogether prevent—the pursuit of excellence.
The implications for higher education should be serious: Federal government contracts in any academic field—the humanities, engineering, or medical sciences—are now subject to these policies and they and their programs should be reviewed for offending content.
Banned “divisive concepts” are listed in Section 2(a) of EO 13950 which reads as follows:
(a) “Divisive concepts” means the concepts that (1) One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; (2) the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist; (3) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously; (4) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex; (5) members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex; (6) an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex; (7) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex; (8) any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex; or (9) meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race. The term “divisive concept” also include any other form of race or sex stereotyping or any other form of race or sex scapegoating. [emphasis added]
Enforcement mechanisms for contractors are numerous and are found in Section 4: 1) Contractors must notify workers of the policy and must post it in conspicuous places; 2) Contractors must include the policy in subcontracts, purchase orders and the like; 3) the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) must establish a hotline to investigate complaints that the order is being violated and “shall take appropriate enforcement action and provide remedial relief as appropriate;” 4) Within 30 days, the OFCCP shall publish in the Federal Register a request for information regarding diversity and inclusion and similar programs.
Section 5 concerns Federal Grants and requires agency heads to review agency grants and identify those which should certify compliance with the policy. They must then submit this report to the OMB Director within 60 days.
The Order also authorizes the Attorney General to evaluate whether any content creates a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII, the federal ban on employment discrimination.
While the Order clarifies that it does not affect “discussing, as part of a larger course of academic instruction, the divisive concepts listed in section 2(a) … in an objective manner and without endorsement,” it still recognizes that racial stereotypes and division are now “fashionable” in the academy. It warns that such ideas “have no place in programs and activities supported by Federal tax dollars” and that “blame-focused diversity training reinforces biases.”
Chris Rufo believes this EO will effectively end Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools with federal contracts. Those in higher education should therefore watch for CRT or like programs as well as diversity and inclusion events and consider calling the OFCCB hotline or submitting information in response to the Federal Register request if noncompliance with this directive is suspected.
The days may be numbered for concepts like white privilege, toxic masculinity, implicit bias, and systemic racism.