Biden likely to undo Trump order banning critical race theory training in federal agencies

U.S. President Barack Obama (D) delivers remarks in reaction to the shooting deaths of nine people at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, from the podium in the press briefing room of the White House in Washington June 18, 2015. Vice President Joe Biden listens at left.
U.S. President Barack Obama (D) delivers remarks in reaction to the shooting deaths of nine people at an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, from the podium in the press briefing room of the White House in Washington June 18, 2015. Vice President Joe Biden listens at left. | (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Shortly after news outlets called the 2020 presidential election for former Vice President and Democrat nominee Joe Biden, a report has surfaced explaining that a Biden administration will undo President Donald Trump’s executive orders restricting the teaching of “critical race theory” to federal employees.

According to USA Today, “a Joe Biden administration would likely scrap an executive order from the Trump administration that restricts the federal government and its contractors from offering diversity training that President Donald Trump labeled ‘divisive’ and ‘un-American.’”

Russell Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, issued a memorandum to all the heads of executive branch departments and agencies on Sept. 4. The memo explained that the president instructed him to tell them to stop using taxpayer funds to pay for training sessions on critical race theory.

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Critical race theory has been described as a controversial ideological framework that some legal scholars argue interrogates the relationship between race, law and power. 

Trump defined critical race theory as an ideology “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.”

But critics of Trump's orders contend that it hurt the implementation of diversity and inclusion programs that seek to reverse decades-long patterns of discrimination and exclusion.

Vought contended that “Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date ‘training’ government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda.”

The memo alleges that in these trainings, employees are allegedly told that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” and white employees are required to say that they “benefit from racism.” 

He also cited press reports 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 propaganda training sessions.”

Trump directed the executive branch agencies to “begin 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.”

Two weeks later, Trump signed an executive order on "combating race and sex stereotyping,” where he echoed many of the claims made by Vought and expanded the directive to refrain from teaching critical race theory to contractors that do business with the federal government and the U.S. Military.

Many provisions of the Sept. 22 executive order still have yet to go into effect. For example, the requirements for government contractors to refrain from teaching critical race theory do not go into effect until 60 days after the order.

As USA Today noted, Vought’s memorandum and Trump’s subsequent executive order came not long after the Fox News program “Tucker Carlson Tonight” hosted Christopher Rufo. Rufo is the director of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty in Seattle.

“What I’ve discovered is that critical race theory has become, in essence, the default ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being weaponized against the American people,” Rufo claimed.

Trump and Biden sparred over critical race theory at the first presidential debate, where Trump defended his decision to “end racial sensitivity training,” as moderator Chris Wallace described it.

“I ended it because it’s racist," Trump remarked.  "I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane, that it was a radical revolution that was taking place."

“We were paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach very bad ideas and frankly, very sick ideas,” the president added. “They were teaching people to hate our country and I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to allow that to happen.”

Biden argued that “racial sensitivity training” was necessary because “this guy and his friends looked down on so many people, they look down their nose on people, like Irish Catholics like me."

Calling Trump a racist, Biden accused Trump and his friends of looking down on “people who are of a different faith” and “people who are [a] different color.”

Reversing Trump’s executive actions on critical race theory is just one action Biden would take should he take office in January as news outlets project.

A report from CNN highlights how Biden has repeatedly pledged to rejoin the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, multilateral pacts and organizations of which Trump pulled the United States out.

Biden has also said that he would repeal the president’s travel ban on terror-prone countries and reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allowing undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to obtain work permits and remain in the country.

While Biden is making plans to assume the presidency on Jan. 20, Trump and his legal team are continuing to pursue litigation to challenge the election results in hotly contested states.  

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