On Friday, President Donald Trump ordered that federal agencies cease leading any training sessions that push “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” or any other “propaganda effort” teaching that either the United States or any race is inherently racist or evil. On Sunday, he announced that the Department of Education (DOE) is investigating schools that teach The New York Times‘ “1619 Project” and warned that any school doing so “will not be funded.”
Trump is pushing back against the rising tide of Marxist critical theory. This noxious ideology, championed in the 1619 Project and in the “anti-racism” movement supporting the official Marxist Black Lives Matter organization, has inspired much of the violent looting, rioting, and arson in cities across America this summer. Indeed, some have referred to the riots as “the 1619 riots” for this reason.
Trump’s assault on Marxist critical theory
On Friday, Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), sent a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies, ordering them to cease using curricula based on Marxist critical theory for their employee trainings.
“It has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date ‘training’ government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda,” Vought wrote. The OMB director seems to have been referring to the 1,483 pages of Department of Defense (DOD) training materials Judicial Watch unearthed in July. An April 2015 training, for instance, branded the idea that “individual effort is key to success” as a form of “Racist Behavior.”
Vought referenced training sessions that teach that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” and others claiming that “there is racism embedded in the belief that America is the land of opportunity or the belief that the most qualified person should receive a job.”
“These types of ‘trainings’ not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce,” Vought wrote. “The President has directed me to ensure that Federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American prpaganda training sessions.”
While OMB will issue more detailed guidance in the future, Vought instructed federal agencies to “identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.” Federal agencies should find ways to divert federal funds away from these sessions.
“The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the Federal government,” Vought concluded.
On Sunday, President Trump also brought a similar strategy to the Department of Education (DOE). He responded to someone warning that California schools have started teaching from the 1619 Project, which claims that America’s true founding came not with the Declaration of Independence in 1776 but with the arrival of the first black slaves in 1619.
(While the first black slaves arrived in the land that would become South Carolina as early as 1526, the 1619 Project is more concerned with branding America as inherently and fundamentally racist than with particular dates. The project’s founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has admitted that her enterprise is “not about history,” but rather about “memory” and the “national narrative.”)
As for schools teaching from the 1619 Project, the president tweeted that the “Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!”
Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded! https://t.co/dHsw6Y6Y3M
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2020
Marxist critical theory and the “1619 riots”
The 1619 Project uses the very same Marxist critical theory that the DOD taught under Obama to demonize America and inspire an unguided and destructive revolution. Portland activist Lilith Sinclair expressed a similar idea when she said, “There’s still a lot of work to undo the harm of colonized thought that has been pushed onto Black and indigenous communities.” As examples of “colonized thought,” she mentioned Christianity and the “gender binary.” She said she organizes for “the abolition of … the United States as we know it.”
Marxist critical theory encourages people to deconstruct various aspects of society — such as capitalism, science the nuclear family, the Judeo-Christian tradition, even expectations of politeness (as the Smithsonian briefly taught) — as examples of white oppression. This inspires an aimless and destructive revolution.
When vandals toppled a statue of George Washington in Portland, they spray-painted “1619” on the statue. When Claremont’s Charles Kesler wrote in The New York Post “Call them the 1619 riots,” Hannah-Jones, responded (in a since-deleted tweet) that “it would be an honor” to claim responsibility for the destructive riots and the defamation of American Founding Fathers like George Washington.
In a November 9, 1995 op-ed, the 1619 Project founder condemned Christopher Columbus as “no different” from Adolf Hitler and demonized the “white race” as the true “savages” and “bloodsuckers.” She went on to describe “white America’s dream” as “colored America’s nightmare.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) expressed a similar sentiment when she called for the “dismantling” of America’s “economy and political system,” in order to root out supposed racist oppression.
Yet the “1619 riots” have arguably oppressed black people far more than the U.S. supposedly does. The riots have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 26 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black.
The president is correct. The federal government should not be inculcating Marxist critical theory propaganda into its training sessions. America’s schools should not embrace the 1619 Project’s ultimate goals for crafting the national narrative. It is long past time Americans stand up to this pernicious ideology.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.