- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2021

President Biden’s lifting of the Trump-era ban on mandatory anti-bias training at federal agencies added fuel to an expanding legal fight against the training that critics call a “cultlike indoctrination.”

A coalition of lawyers under the banner Stop Critical Race Theory announced this week an aggressive legal campaign to confront the training across America.

“It is time to fight back,” said Christopher Rufo, a leader of the coalition. 

“Critical-race-theory training programs have become commonplace in academia, government, and corporate life, where they have sought to advance the ideology through cultlike indoctrination, intimidation, and harassment,” he said.

Mr. Rufo last year declared a “one-man war” against critical race theory, which is the view that White people are inherently racist in ways they can’t even see, much less deny, and perpetuate their economic and political power by oppressing people of color.

Once a boutique idea in left-wing academic circles, the theory spread like wildfire in the aftermath of 2020 racial justice protests.

Stop Critical Race Theory directors so far have filed three lawsuits. Two of them target schools — one at a charter school in Las Vegas, the other at a public school in Santa Barbara, California — and the other the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Proponents say anti-bias or implicit racial bias awareness training is a path to true equality.

“If we are going to live up to this nation’s promise — ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ — we have to see each other as human beings, and we have to do whatever it takes, including taking whatever classes make that possible,” M.E. Hart, an attorney who leads diversity training sessions for businesses and the federal government, told The Washington Post. “These classes have been very powerful in allowing people to do that, and we need them more than ever. There’s danger here.”

The theory rejects the notion of a color-blind society and holds instead that racism created the entire system supporting the U.S.

The workshops tell participants they are, consciously or otherwise, complicit in, or a victim of, institutionalized oppression based on race and, often, also sexuality and/or gender.

The cardinal principles of CRT, as expressed in one of its foundational documents by professors Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, is to question “the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.”

The lawsuits, along with scores of anecdotes gathered by Mr. Rufo and others, describe classes and seminars reminiscent of the Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in which people were forced to confess and shoulder blame and guilt publicly.

David Pivtorak, a Los Angeles attorney who was born in Ukraine to a family that endured the Soviet Union and World War II, said the anti-bias training reminds him of tactics deployed by totalitarian regimes.

“I think at root what we are seeing is something that my parents and grandparents have been warning me about since I was a little kid,” said Mr. Pivtorak, a coalition director and lead plaintiff attorney in the lawsuit against the California wildlife department. 

Former President Donald Trump signed an executive order in August that barred anti-bias training, which critics say is steeped in critical race theory, from the federal workplace.

The Obama administration had made the training mandatory across federal agencies. Mr. Biden’s executive order, which was among the first batch of executive actions he signed after the inauguration Wednesday, will allow critical-race-theory consultants to school the federal workforce again.

Mr. Rufo said the Stop Critical Race Theory coalition plans a broader legal attack than going directly at federal training. Ultimately, the coalition hopes to get a case before the Supreme Court. 

“We won’t file against the Biden administration directly: we want to get precedent in the Supreme Court via the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That’s the brass ring for us,” Mr. Rufo said. 

“We are breaking new ground in civil rights law and will prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that critical race theory is antithetical to American values — and, in fact, antithetical to American law. We are playing a high stakes game, but if we win, we will stop critical race theory in thousands of schools, universities, corporations, and government agencies across the country,” he said.

Mr. Pivtorak and other lawyers who joined the coalition said the cancel culture they see intertwined with CRT gave them pause.

“This is a second Cultural Revolution, that’s exactly what it is,” Mr. Pivtorak said. “They are telling 8-year-old kids their immutable characteristics amount to the original sin of being white, straight, male, etc. It’s pure poison, and this is how you tear a country apart, by scapegoating people.”

Wally Zimolong, an attorney in the Philadelphia area who supports the coalition, said he sees the group as a resource for people looking to fight critical race theory.

“The proponents have not really faced any opposition to this, and parents are out in the wilderness, they don’t know where to turn,” Mr. Zimolong said. “So I see this chiefly as a way of educating the populace at large.”

One of the most disturbing aspects of the sudden surge of CRT-saturated materials, Mr. Zimolong said, is how zealous its proponents are in making a political argument something more like a religion. 

“This has been driven by school boards and progressive, White liberals who are more dangerous than anybody as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “That it is college-educated White people who are pushing this the most I think is so patronizing. The White gentry liberals strike me as incredibly arrogant.”

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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