Race Training for Federal Employees is a “Sickness”

September 7, 2020 8:04 AM
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Group of attendees listening to a speaker giving a presentation in an auditorium

2011 Executive Order on Diversity

On August 18, 2011, President Obama issued an Executive Order entitled “Establishing a Coordinated Government-wide Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce”. The gist of the Order was directing agencies to emphasize diversity and inclusion throughout the federal workforce.

So far, so good. But the devil is in the details. In this case, the implementation of the memo may or may not have been what President Obama intended but has taken on a life of its own in any event.

Memo Directing Agencies to Cease Divisive Propaganda Effort

Some nine years after the Obama Executive Order was issued, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget has issued a memo to federal agencies on training for the federal workforce on diversity and inclusion. The memo was issued after President Trump sent out a tweet that “critical race theory” is a “sickness that cannot be allowed to continue.”

The OMB memo states:

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.

For example, according to press reports, employees across the Executive Branch have been 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.” According to press reports, in some cases these training (sic) have further claimed 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….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.

Halting the Propaganda Effort

The memo goes on to direct agencies to cease spending money on “propaganda training sessions”. Agencies are to stop spending money 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.

The memo concludes with the statement that “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.”

Training on Diversity and Inclusion

A video from a recent Tucker Carlson show on race-based training in the federal government illustrates why it is of concern to the administration.

Christopher Rufo says: “It’s absolutely astonishing how critical race theory has pervaded every institution in the federal government. What I have 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 added that President Trump should issue an “executive order and stamp out this destructive, divisive, pseudoscientific ideology of the far-left.”

The segment stated that diversity and inclusion training is being implemented in a way that is an existential threat to the United States and threatens America’s core values. The report also contends this type of training is leading to riots in the streets in America as we lose our national identity and focus primarily on racial groups as advocated by far-left ideology.

The comments from Christopher Rufo were made after complaints about other initiatives from the federal government emphasizing racial divisions.

For example, NASA recently announced it would stop using the phrases “Eskimo Nebula” and “Siamese Twins Galaxy.” The National Museum of African American History and Culture also came under fire when it released a graphic linking the nuclear family and self-reliance to values of a white society.

Examples of History and Ideology in Training

No doubt, there are many trainers and many approaches to the subject.

One of the most successful is Samuel Betances. He has been cited before the current controversy as a trainer who has performed many diversity training sessions for the federal government. One report states that his diversity sessions for the government have resulted in total revenue for the Betances firm totaling “millions of dollars to help strengthen the federal workplace with its brand of diversity consulting.”

One quote from the report cites a segment of a Betances lecture to his audience in the Department of Agriculture in a video that reflects his overall theme:

I want you to say that American was founded by outsiders – say that – who are today’s insiders, who are very nervous about today’s outsiders. I want you to say, ‘The pilgrims were illegal aliens.’ Say, ‘The pilgrims never gave their passports to the Indians.’” Betances also asked the audience, “Give me a bam,” after these statements, to which the audience replied in unison.

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker described her reaction to a session by the popular diversity trainer. She wrote that “Lessons include such angst-inspiring tropes as: The United States has destroyed other nations, we all commit sins of discrimination and America should repent and stop being so proud of itself.”

She highlighted what she concluded was the gist of the history lesson from Mr. Betances: “Not only did the United States steal the lands that are increasingly being populated by illegal immigrants (Texas, California, Arizona) — hence, implicitly, they have a right to re-occupy — but also, America’s founding fathers took their governing cues from Native Americans. Oh, and they stole their symbol, too — the bald eagle.”

Parker also concluded after seeing one of the training videos:

I feel so bad about all this that I’d like to cede the lower United States to Mexico and adopt the chicken as the national symbol. There’s no end to the ways by which nations can make recompense to those whose fates were altered by history. Shouldn’t we all just pack up and return whence we came? This is, of course, emotional extortion designed to engineer behavior while enriching people who have invented an industry around the notion that people can be numbed into niceness and, therefore, more easily managed.

Another writer summarized a Betances seminar in this way:

Betances is the top-shelf race hustler who receives your hard-earned tax dollars to go inside federal agencies in Washington, D.C., and teach government workers that America is a racist country. Judicial Watch obtained records of one of his looney talks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It contained a creepy call and response that would have made the Symbionese Liberation Army proud.

“I want you to say: ‘If we work for a federal agency.’ Say that. (Audience repeats.) ‘We have discriminated in the past.’ (Audience repeats.) Say: ‘Every federal agency’ (audience repeats) ‘has discriminated against African Americans’ (audience repeats), ‘Hispanics’ (audience repeats), ‘Native American Indians’ (audience repeats) ‘and other groups’ (audience repeats),” Betances preaches.

Readers can decide for themselves if training federal employees and requiring them to state out loud that the Pilgrims were illegal aliens, immigrants have a right to re-occupy land illegally taken by America and the founding fathers took their governing cues from Native Americans is anti-American and constitutes far-left propaganda.

Critical Race Theory and the Federal Workforce

Traditionally, Americans see themselves as being fortunate to be a citizen in a country that is free, with success available to everyone based on merit instead of social class, and a government that represents a unique experiment in the history of the world the government based on the “consent of the governed”.

The diversity and inclusion training appears to take a different approach based on “critical race theory.” This theory is defined as:

(A) view that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that race itself, instead of being biologically grounded and natural, is a socially constructed concept that is used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of people of color. According to critical race theory (CRT), racial inequality emerges from the social, economic, and legal differences that white people create between “races” to maintain elite white interests in labor markets and politics….

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the ideology being touted to many in the federal workforce, it is different and often presents an image or history of America from a point of view likely in some ways to create division and conflict.

Most federal employees are proud of their work on behalf of the country. Many or most probably see themselves as fortunate to be living in a country and working for a constitutional government operating with the “consent of the people” and helping to provide safety, security and opportunity for its citizens. In other words, America is not perfect but perhaps the best country in the world in which to live.

But, if what is coming out about diversity and inclusion training is generally true of these classes, federal employees are now being told some version of a theory that they are, instead, working for a government that is oppressive, racist and exists to promote white privilege. Moreover, the federal government is apparently spending millions of dollars to spread this message.

Has Morale Improved?

Has morale improved after taking one of these training seminars? Does the training create a more effective and efficient government?

We do not know if President Trump saw the video cited above, but it seems likely that its contents influenced some in the administration and advised President Trump of the training and the content of the training. The administration’s reaction appears to have been quick and decisive and obviously offended some in the Trump administration—including President Trump.

What comes next may depend on social and political events in the next few months.

It will be an interesting time to be a federal employee.

OMB Memo on Diversity

© 2020 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.

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About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47

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