(CNN Business)“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,” a Friday memo from the director of Office of Budget and Management — Russell Vought — stated.
Vought said President Donald Trump wanted to ensure that agencies “cease and desist” from conducting racial sensitivity training sessions. So how did this come to “the President’s attention,” as he put it?
Tucker Carlson’s talk show on Fox News.
For several months conservative media outlets condemned “critical race theory” and portrayed it as a threat to the country, just as Vought’s memo did.
Websites like Breitbart and the Washington Free Beacon wrote about the efforts of Christopher Rufo, a conservative activist and filmmaker. Rufo is also a contributing editor at City Journal, published by the right-wing Manhattan Institute.
Rufo appeared twice on “The Ingraham Angle,” hosted by Laura Ingraham, in July. And he appeared on Carlson’s program in mid-August. The banner for the Carlson appearance said “NUCLEAR LAB EXECS SENT TO ‘WHITE PRIVILEGE’ CAMP.”
Rufo said he found examples of taxpayer-funded sessions about addressing “white privilege.” One such training course was titled “White Men’s Caucus on Eliminating Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia in Organizations.”
Carlson asked on the program, “Why do we allow this kind of garbage to continue, this poison, at public expense?”
Rufo told him, “I am declaring a one-man war against ‘critical race theory’ in the federal government, and I’m not going to stop these investigations until we can abolish it within our public institutions.”
“I can’t think of many things more important than that,” Carlson said.
So in right-wing media circles, this was an outrage. In the rest of the media, it barely made a peep.
As the Washington Post noted, some experts “say racial and diversity awareness trainings are essential steps in helping rectify the pervasive racial inequities in American society, including those perpetuated by the federal government.”
But not in Trump’s government.
Rufo tweeted on August 20, “My goal is simple: to persuade the President of the United States to issue an executive order abolishing critical race theory in the federal government.”
He was back on TV with Carlson on Tuesday night. Carlson started his program by arguing that “highly-paid diversity trainers systematically attack the unifying ideals of this country,” calling it a racist and “grotesque” project.
The White House noticed. On Thursday, “in response to Rufo’s claims, a senior administration official told Fox News that the administration was doing everything they could to stop those types of trainings for federal employees,” a FoxNews.com story reported.
On Friday, Vought issued his directive to federal agencies and pro-Trump sites like Breitbart celebrated the result.
“Party’s over: Trump orders purge of ‘critical race theory’ from federal agencies,” Breitbart’s website declared.
Trump tweeted a link to that story and said “this is a sickness that cannot be allowed to continue. Please report any sightings so we can quickly extinguish!”
Carlson’s program evidently got results.
CNN’s story noted that the federal directive was “the latest overture” to Trump’s political base “two months before the presidential election.”
It was, among other things, a defense of whiteness, as evinced when Trump went on a Twitter spree about the subject on Saturday. He retweeted posts that said things like “Sorry liberals! How to be Anti-White 101 is permanently cancelled!”
And he retweeted Rufo, who wrote in a Friday night post, “On Tuesday, I called on the President to abolish critical race theory in the federal government. Tonight, he delivered.”
Trump also shared a clip from Rufo’s segment with Carlson, captioned “critical race theory is the greatest threat to western civilization,” and Trump wrote “Not any more!”
Antiracism scholars like Ibram X. Kendi reacted to the administration’s action with disappointment.
Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” said the directive’s description of training sessions as “anti-American propaganda” means that “Trump is saying to be an ‘American’ is to be racist like him and deny it like him.”
“POTUS calls the treatment the sickness, and suggests the sickness is the treatment,” Kendi tweeted. “No need to wonder why Trump’s America is getting sicker by the day — is dying.”
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