WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has instructed federal government agencies to halt racial sensitivity training under a White House memo that condemned such initiatives as contrary to the nation’s “fundamental beliefs.”
The memo was released late Friday by Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, who said that Trump had directed him “to ensure that federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda 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 added.
The memo was released as issues of racial injustice and police brutality have taken center stage in the national political debate two months before the U.S. election. Widespread demonstrations over the past few months have forced a painful reflection on the treatment of Black people throughout American history.
In the two-page document, Vought didn’t name the training programs that prompted the move, only referring to unspecified media reports. According to his memo, the reports describe employees being required “to attend trainings where they are told that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” or where they are required to say that they ‘benefit from racism.’”
The memo directed agencies to identify contracts and spending related what it called any “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.”
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment late Friday night.
Trump’s decision puts him at odds with the policies of American companies as well as state and local governments that have made racial sensitivity sessions a mandatory part of employee training.
The president grew increasingly hostile toward the demonstrations that began after the death in late May of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in the custody of the Minneapolis police.
Some of the protests turned violent and Trump warned of anarchy, vowing to impose “law and order” to end the unrest. He has made that the central thrust of his reelection campaign, which had been upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week, Vought and the OMB figured in Trump’s attempt to punish cities, all run by Democrats, that have been the settings of massive protests.
The president signed a separate memorandum on Wednesday that ordered a funding review of four cities, New York, Portland, Oregon, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
That memo gave Vought 30 days to issue guidance to agencies “on restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of federal grants that the agency has sufficient lawful discretion to restrict.”
Story by John Harney
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