Trump Calls Education About Racism “A Web Of Lies” And Orders “Pro-America Curriculum”
The president called education about America’s history of systemic racism “toxic propaganda.”
President Trump on Thursday said he would establish the "1776 Commission" for schools to make a "pro-America curriculum" while denouncing education about systemic racism as a “web of lies.” He also slammed the 1619 Project, a long-form New York Times examination of slavery in American history.
While speaking at the National Archives Museum, Trump blasted the Smithsonian Institute as well as and schools and universities for teaching critical race theory (CRT), calling it "toxic propaganda" and "a form of child abuse in the truest sense of those words." CRT is a framework on how racism is embedded in American culture.
The president has also repeatedly insulted and threatened protesters who have been calling for an end to systemic racism across the U.S.
After Trump’s speech, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice told CNN, "I thought I was listening to Mao Tse-tung running communist China.”
"This was one of the most astonishing speeches I've heard him give," says former US Amb. to the UN Susan Rice on Trump's announcement of a commission to "promote patriotic education."— CNN (@CNN) September 18, 2020
"I thought I was listening to Mao Tse-tung running communist China." https://t.co/uk0H4Ecidz pic.twitter.com/4cDwUUEKRu
Others slammed Trump’s remarks on Twitter as “fascism” and made comparisons to Hitler.
Some pointed out the already lacking standards of education about slavery and racism in American schools.
A research report by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2018 found that “high school students don’t know much about the history of slavery in the United States, with only 8 percent able to identify it as the central cause of the Civil War.” The report also found that teachers themselves (82% of whom are white, as of the report’s publishing) struggle with how to properly talk to students about slavery and racism.
According to the SPLC report, one Texas teacher said: “I dislike making this history come alive for my black students. I feel helpless to explain why its repercussions are still with us today.”
Trump also announced on Thursday that a statue of Caesar Rodney, who enslaved some 200 people, would be placed at the National Garden of American Heroes, a park proposed by Trump to feature statues of the “greatest Americans to ever live.” Rodney was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, famous for his midnight ride to cast the deciding vote for the state of Delaware. A statue of Rodney was removed in Wilmington, DE in June.
Rodney’s was one of several statues removed during the wave of protests sparked by George Floyd’s death. Demonstrators called for the removal of symbols of the Confederacy that serve as racist remnants of America’s past. Officials in several cities removed Confederate statues and other controversial monuments with racist historical significance that protesters had vandalized.