An executive order signed Tuesday by President Donald Trump essentially bans the military and federal contractors from conducting diversity training.
The executive order, which Trump said was meant to “to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating,” bars contractors from conducting training that “teaches, advocates, or promotes divisive concepts” such as unconscious bias and systemic racism.
Companies who do conduct these trainings risk losing grants and contracts from the federal government. Trump issued a similar memo to federal agencies earlier this month. “Americans should be taught to take PRIDE in our Great Country, and if you don’t, there’s nothing in it for you!” Trump tweeted Tuesday, announcing the executive order.
The order tells a revisionist history of the United States. For example, the order states that “Our Founding documents rejected these racialized views of America, which were soundly defeated on the blood-stained battlefields of the Civil War.” The Constitution included the Three-Fifths Compromise, which marked the legal worth of enslaved Black people as three-fifths of a white person. This definition stood for decades until it was officially killed off by the Reconstruction Amendments, which outlawed slavery and established, at least in theory, legal rights and protections for formerly enslaved people.
The executive order claims that anti-racism and anti-sexism efforts are, in fact, the real examples of racism and sexism.
"Instructors and materials teaching that men and members of certain races, as well as our most venerable institutions, are inherently sexist and racist are appearing in workplace diversity trainings across the country, even in components of the Federal Government and among Federal contractors," Trump’s order says.
Ironically, by Trump’s own admission, part of the purpose of the executive order is to prevent the feelings of white people, particularly men, from getting hurt. Trump specifically cites trainings that cause anyone to “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex” as not allowed.
Workplace diversity advocates criticized Trump’s decision earlier this month, when he barred federal agencies from conducting similar trainings.
“We have to see each other as human beings, and we have to do whatever it takes, including taking whatever classes make that possible,” attorney M. E. Hart, who conducts racial sensitivity training for companies, told the Washington Post.
But the order tracks with Trump’s relentless attack on educating people about the history of racism in the United States. Last week, the president announced the “1776 Commission,” another election-year stunt seemingly meant to mine grievance from Trump’s base, to “restore patriotic education to our schools.”
During that announcement, Trump attacked the New York Times’ 1619 Project launched last year, saying it “rewrites American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom.”
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Pittsburgh International Airport, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in Moon Township, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)