President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday evening that banned certain race and sex-based training from federal contractors, as well as the military and federal agencies -- a follow-up move to a previous memo to end "critical race theory" and "white privilege" training for executive employees that the Trump administration has called "anti-American propaganda."
A memo earlier this month from Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought on the same issue applied just to "executive branch agencies." The Tuesday order said that "Executive departments and agencies... our Uniformed Services, Federal contractors, and Federal grant recipients" are required to avoid such trainings that "are pushing a different vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual."
The order adds: "This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans."
Trump announced the order in a pair of tweets.
"A few weeks ago, I BANNED efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex and race-based ideologies," Trump said. "Today, I've expanded that ban to people and companies that do business ... with our Country, the United States Military, Government Contractors, and Grantees. Americans should be taught to take PRIDE in our Great Country, and if you don’t, there’s nothing in it for you!"
As examples of things that would be against the new rules, the executive order lists a training from Argonne National Laboratories that "stated that racism 'is interwoven into every fabric of America;'" a training from Sandia National Laboratories for non-minority males that "stated an emphasis on 'rationality over emotionality'" is characteristic of White men; and a Smithsonian Institution graphic that read "[f]acing your whiteness is hard and can result in feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion, defensiveness, or fear."
The chair of the University of Maryland American Studies Department, Psyche Williams-Forson, called the order a "dog whistle," according to Reuters. Williams-Forson told the publication it is "a way to ease the minds of people who do not want to confront the horror of their ancestry."
"Requiring or pressuring employees to attend trainings where they are told they are inherently racist is un-American," Vought said of the order. "President Trump’s Executive Order builds off his recent directive to halt agencies from using Critical Race Theory in training sessions to ensure Federal contractors are not discriminated against."
On grant recipients, which include many universities that have embraced critical race theory training, the order says federal agency heads should review their programs and identify to which they can add a condition not to use federal dollars promoting critical race theory.
For uniformed services, the order says members cannot be retaliated against for "refusal to support, believe, endorse, embrace, confess, act upon, or otherwise assent" to critical race theory concepts.
The order also states that it does not ban the affected institutions from "promoting racial, cultural, or ethnic diversity or inclusiveness" and adds that critical race theory topics are fair game for academic instruction if discussed without endorsement.