lawsplainer

Trump Bans Diversity Training In The Name of Diversity

Yay, more white supremacist, sexist propaganda!

Donald Trump has lost his fucking mind.

Whether he was ever all the way there to begin with is debatable, but we have now reached peak racist old grandpa who yells at the TV while slobbering all over himself. The problem is that this particular racist old grandpa who exclusively gets his information from Fox News also happens to be the commander-in-chief.

This week, the White House released Trump's "Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping," which, amazingly enough, bans trainings on how to combat race and sex stereotyping in the workplace.

While those of us in the US who aren't white supremacists have taken the last few months to really look at how to combat systemic and institutional racism, the GOP has taken this time to really work on perfecting its white nationalist talking points. So here we are.

The background

Earlier this month, Trump issued an Executive Order banning certain types of diversity training from federal agencies. This week's order also bans federal contractors from using them, too.

The EO, naturally, was announced via Twitter in the midst of one of the commander-in-chief's adderall binges.

Donald Trump and the other Stephen Millers white supremacists in the administration are at war with the 1619 Project, critical race theory, the concept of white privilege, and anything that might not instill PRIDE in American history. Appropriately, Trump's obsession with murdering critical race theory appears to have originated with a segment on white supremacist Tucker Carlson's show.

I realize satire died somewhere back in 2016, but the lack of self-awareness here is really astounding. In the same breath as he bloviates about the importance of "defend[ing] the legacy of America's founding, the virtue of America's heroes, and the nobility of the American character," Trump actually refers to diversity and inclusion training as "propaganda." Because this is the bad place.

As badass founding critical race theorist and intersectional feminist and law professor at UCLA and Columbia University Kimberlé Crenshaw told Vox,

"They've lumped everything together: critical race theory, the 1619 project, whiteness studies, talking about white privilege," Kimberlé Crenshaw, a founding critical race theorist and UCLA and Columbia University law professor, told Vox. "What they have in common is they are discourses that refuse to participate in the lie that America has triumphantly overcome its racist history, that everything is behind us. None of these projects accept that it's all behind us."

The fuckery

The Executive Order, as you might imagine, is quite the read.

At the very beginning of the executive order banning racial sensitivity training, Trump invokes the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. So that's adorable.

As you might imagine, Trump's version of America's history is ... just a little bit entirely bastardized.

From the battlefield of Gettysburg to the bus boycott in Montgomery and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, heroic Americans have valiantly risked their lives to ensure that their children would grow up in a Nation living out its creed, expressed in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." It was this belief in the inherent equality of every individual that inspired the Founding generation to risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to establish a new Nation, unique among the countries of the world. President Abraham Lincoln understood that this belief is "the electric cord" that "links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving" people, no matter their race or country of origin. It is the belief that inspired the heroic black soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment to defend that same Union at great cost in the Civil War. And it is what inspired Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to dream that his children would one day "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Thanks to the courage and sacrifice of our forebears, America has made significant progress toward realization of our national creed, particularly in the 57 years since Dr. King shared his dream with the country.

Fucking YIKES.

I, for one, am particularly impressed with the fact that the EO talks about the Civil War without actually mentioning slavery. The retconning here is kind of incredible.

Without irony, the EO says that

Today many people are pushing a different vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual.

... and then immediately trashes any attempt to come to terms with our country's racist and sexist past (and present).

This ideology is 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.

Because apparently, we should just ignore systemic and institutionalized white supremacy and misogyny. It makes the old white men uncomfortable.

Yes, this is fucking unconstitutional

How is Trump's latest bullshit illegal? Let me count the ways.

There are obviously some pretty major First Amendment issues with this racist, sexist nonsense. The feds have the ability to place limits on their contractors, but the breadth of this order is NUTS. The EO may even limit what colleges and universities teach in courses about critical race theory and women's studies, since basically all higher learning institutions receive federal money.

I will just be waiting here for the Bretbug Stephens's of the world, who love to bloviate about free speech on college campuses, to get all up in arms about this one.

There are also First Amendment issues with the vagueness of the language and the broadness of the order. Even after reading the whole order, it's hard to figure out exactly what it seeks to ban. Snopes looked into what the EO actually banned and basically came back with "idunno." The First Amendment requires that laws not be overly broad or overly vague and this seems to be both.

There are several potential statutory problems with it, too, since there is a very real chance that it conflicts with federal civil rights laws and rules promulgated by federal agencies. Since, you know, diversity is actually a good thing and we have been passing civil rights laws for the last half-century in an effort to improve the lives of people who had historically been disenfranchised.

Does it matter that this bullshit is illegal?

Ehhh, probably not.

This thing is going to be challenged. That's a given. But where, exactly those challenges will go remains to be decided.

The way I see it, by the time this disaster works its way through the court system, one of two things will be true; either Trump will still be president, Amy Coney Barrett will be the ninth member of SCOTUS, and the Supreme Court will rubber-stamp all the fascist Trump ideas ... orrrrrrr Joe Biden will be President and rescind every executive order Trump ever issued.

[ Executive Order / Army Times / Vox / Snopes ]


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SCOTUS

We're Just Really, Really Going To Miss Ruth Bader Ginsburg

This sucks.

I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.

-RBG

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a fucking giant.

What can be said about her that hasn't already been said, and more eloquently, by someone else? Someone who is surely more qualified than I to pontificate on all the contributions of this incredible woman. Someone who wasn't blinded by grief and despair while struggling to comprehend the legacy of a woman without whom so many of us wouldn't be where we are today.

It's hard not to feel lost in despair right now — not just about losing such an icon, but about the future of our country. But it's not fair to this incredible woman for all of the focus to be on our impending doom.

In our grief, we can't forget to remember RBG and honor her legacy by continuing our fight for equality.

It is apt that Ruth Bader Ginsburg enjoyed using the word "pathmaking." She was one of nine women accepted to Harvard Law in 1956. At the beginning of her legal studies, the Harvard Law dean asked each of the female students how they could justify taking a sport that could have gone to a man. And that was only the beginning of the sexism she would encounter throughout her career.

RBG graduated first in her class, a member of both the Harvard and Columbia Law Reviews, with excellent faculty recommendations, but no law firms would hire her. As she recounted decades later,

Not a law firm in the entire city of New York would employ me," she later said. "I struck out on three grounds: I was Jewish, a woman and a mother.

Of course, the discrimination only fueled her fire. RBG went on to teach at Rutgers University Law school and then became the first female tenured professor at Columbia Law.

Well before she joined the Supreme Court as an Associate Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was changing the course of American legal history. After co-founding the ACLU's Women' Rights Project in 1972, she argued six cases before the Supreme Court in the 1970s — and won five of them. Much in the way Thurgood Marshall championed the legal fight for racial justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg championed the legal fight for women's rights.

As she argued,

Sex, like race, is a visible, immutable characteristic bearing no necessary relationship to ability.

Sex, like race, has been made the basis for unjustified or at least unproved assumptions, concerning an individual's potential to perform or to contribute to society. […]

These distinctions have a common effect: They help keep woman in her place, a place inferior to that occupied by men in our society.

Jimmy Carter appointed RBG to the DC Circuit as part of an effort to diversify the federal bench. She was widely viewed as a moderate during her time on the DC Circuit. Bill Clinton has always said it was Ginsburg's interview that sealed the deal.

Ginsberg became the second female Supreme Court justice when she was confirmed by the Senate in 1993. Although today the Notorious RBG is known at the Great Dissenter of the Roberts Court — and with good reason — that wasn't always the case.

One of Ginsburg's favorite majority opinions was the one she wrote striking down the Virginia Military Institute's long-standing males-only admissions policy in United States v. Virginia. She wrote that while Virginia "serves the state's sons, it makes no provision whatever for her daughters. That is not equal protection." VMI must

Women seeking and fit for a VMI quality education cannot be offered anything less, under the State's obligation to afford them genuinely equal protection

Today, 14 percent of VMI students are women.

As the Court lurched farther and farther to the right under John Roberts, RBG became the voice of reason, progressive causes, and dissent.

She knew the importance of the dissents she became famous for, saying

Dissents speak to a future age. It's not simply to say, 'My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.' But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that's the dissenter's hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow.

The only woman on the Court in 2007 after Sandra Day O'Connor retired, RBG issued a scathing dissent in Gonzales v. Carhart, a 5-4 opinion upholding the federal ban on so-called "partial birth abortions." While five of her male colleagues wholeheartedly agreed with the federal government's intrusion into women's healthcare, RBG wrote that the law could not "be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this court and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's life."

The court deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice, even at the expense of their safety. This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women's place in the family and under the Constitution — ideas that have long since been discredited."

This case was, in a lot of ways, the beginning of RBG's burgeoning reputation as the great dissenter of her age. And it was another, very different civil rights case that would would seal it.

The Supreme Court's 2013 Jim Crow decision invalidating the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder is the Plessy v. Ferguson of our time. Until the Voting Rights Act became law, most Black Americans had voting rights in name but not practice. For nearly half a century, it protected minority communities from voter suppression. Shelby County gutted it.

RBG penned a dissent that called out the majority's bullshit for what it was, writing that it was "like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet." She foresaw the damage to voting rights that would happen as a result of the Court's opinion, saying that the majority "can hardly be described as an exemplar of restrained and moderate decisionmaking. Quite the opposite. Hubris is a fit word for today's demolition of the VRA."

When Lilly Ledbetter's case was dismissed by the Supreme Court, it was RBG who penned the dissent begging Congress to take action. When the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, inspired by her dissent, became law in 2009, she hung a framed copy of it on her wall.

When Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, he called her the "Thurgood Marshall of gender equality law." She certainly lived up to those words.

It is hard not to feel hopeless right now. The world lost a giant yesterday. And dark days lie ahead.

We should all grieve. But we can't give up. This election just became even more important. We can't give up; we have to fight even harder.

It's what RBG would want. And it's how we can honor her legacy.

Grieve. Then organize.

We need to fight like hell.

Like RBG did, her entire life.

Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time

-RBG

Rest in power.


[ NYT / CBS / Time / NPR ]

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