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President Trump and his appointed subordinates in the Department of Education have launched a real counteroffensive in the culture war. The president took the occasion of Constitution Day, which is also Citizenship Day, to announce a full offensive against the leftists’ lies, and identified Howard Zinn as a propagandist. Then the Department of Education took the president of Princeton at his word when he proclaimed in writing that this university, recipient of federal largesse in grants and scholarship guarantees, is shot through with systematic racism.
Remarks by President Trump at the White House Conference on American History
Issued on: September 17, 2020
National Archives Museum
2:54 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mike. A great Vice President. I am truly honored to be here at the very first White House Conference on American History. So important.
Our mission is to defend the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character. We must clear away the twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms, and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world. (Applause.)
To grow up in America is to live in a land where anything is possible, where anyone can rise, and where any dream can come true — all because of the immortal principles our nation’s founders inscribed nearly two and a half centuries ago.
That’s why we have come to the National Archives, the sacred home of our national memory. In this great chamber, we preserve our glorious inheritance: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights.
On this very day in 1787, our Founding Fathers signed the Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was the fulfillment of a thousand years of Western civilization. Our Constitution was the product of centuries of tradition, wisdom, and experience. No political document has done more to advance the human condition or propel the engine of progress.
Yet, as we gather this afternoon, a radical movement is attempting to demolish this treasured and precious inheritance. We can’t let that happen. (Applause.) Left-wing mobs have torn down statues of our founders, desecrated our memorials, and carried out a campaign of violence and anarchy. Far-left demonstrators have chanted the words “America was never great.” The left has launched a vicious and violent assault on law enforcement — the universal symbol of the rule of law in America. These radicals have been aided and abetted by liberal politicians, establishment media, and even large corporations.
Whether it is the mob on the street, or the cancel culture in the boardroom, the goal is the same: to silence dissent, to scare you out of speaking the truth, and to bully Americans into abandoning their values, their heritage, and their very way of life.
We are here today to declare that we will never submit to tyranny. We will reclaim our history and our country for citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed.
The radicals burning American flags want to burn down the principles enshrined in our founding documents, including the bedrock principle of equal justice under law. In order to radically transform America, they must first cause Americans to lose confidence in who we are, where we came from, and what we believe. As I said at Mount Rushmore — which they would love to rip down and it rip it down fast, and that’s never going to happen — two months ago, the left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.
As many of you testified today, the left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools. It’s gone on far too long. Our children are instructed from propaganda tracts, like those of Howard Zinn, that try to make students ashamed of their own history.
The left has warped, distorted, and defiled the American story with deceptions, falsehoods, and lies. There is no better example than the New York Times’ totally discredited 1619 Project. This project rewrites American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom.
Nothing could be further from the truth. America’s founding set in motion the unstoppable chain of events that abolished slavery, secured civil rights, defeated communism and fascism, and built the most fair, equal, and prosperous nation in human history. (Applause.)
The narratives about America being pushed by the far-left and being chanted in the streets bear a striking resemblance to the anti-American propaganda of our adversaries — because both groups want to see America weakened, derided, and totally diminished.
Students in our universities are inundated with critical race theory. This is a Marxist doctrine holding that America is a wicked and racist nation, that even young children are complicit in oppression, and that our entire society must be radically transformed. Critical race theory is being forced into our children’s schools, it’s being imposed into workplace trainings, and it’s being deployed to rip apart friends, neighbors, and families.
A perfect example of critical race theory was recently published by the Smithsonian Institution. This document alleged that concepts such as hard work, rational thinking, the nuclear family, and belief in God were not values that unite all Americans, but were instead aspects of “whiteness.” This is offensive and outrageous to Americans of every ethnicity, and it is especially harmful to children of minority backgrounds who should be uplifted, not disparaged.
Teaching this horrible doctrine to our children is a form of child abuse in the truest sense of those words. For many years now, the radicals have mistaken Americans’ silence for weakness. But they’re wrong.
There is no more powerful force than a parent’s love for their children. And patriotic moms and dads are going to demand that their children are no longer fed hateful lies about this country. American parents are not going to accept indoctrination in our schools, cancel culture at our work, or the repression of traditional faith, culture, and values in the public square. Not anymore. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.
We embrace the vision of Martin Luther King, where children are not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
The left is attempting to destroy that beautiful vision and divide Americans by race in the service of political power. By viewing every issue through the lens of race, they want to impose a new segregation, and we must not allow that to happen.
Critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together. It will destroy our country.
That is why I recently banned trainings in this prejudiced ideology from the federal government and banned it in the strongest manner possible. (Applause.)
The only path to national unity is through our shared identity as Americans. That is why it is so urgent that we finally restore patriotic education to our schools.
Under our leadership, the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant to support the development of a pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history. (Applause.)
We are joined by some of the respected scholars involved in this project, including Professor Wilfred McClay. Wilfred, please. Thank you very much. Welcome. (Applause.) Thank you. Dr. Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars. Dr. Peter. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. And Ted Rebarber. Thank you, Ted. (Applause.) Thank you very much, Ted.
Today, I am also pleased to announce that I will soon sign an Executive Order establishing a national commission to promote patriotic education. It will be called the “1776 Commission.” (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. It will encourage our educators to teach our children about the miracle of American history and make plans to honor the 250th anniversary of our founding. Think of that — 250 years.
Recently, I also signed an executive order to establish the National Garden of American Heroes, a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans who have ever lived.
Today, I am announcing a new name for inclusion.
One of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence was a patriot from Delaware. In July of 1776, the Continental Congress was deadlocked during the debate over independence. The delegation from Delaware was divided. Caesar Rodney was called upon to break the tie.
Even though he was suffering from very advanced cancer — he was deathly ill — Rodney rode 80 miles through the night, through a severe thunderstorm, from Dover to Philadelphia to cast his vote for independence.
For nearly a century, a statue of one of Delaware’s most beloved citizens stood in Rodney Square, right in the heart of Wilmington.
But this past June, Caesar Rodney’s statue was ordered removed by the mayor and local politicians as part of a radical purge of America’s founding generation.
Today, because of an order I signed, if you demolish a statue without permission, you immediately get 10 years in prison. (Applause.) And there have been no statues demolished for the last four months, incredibly, since the time I signed that act.
Joe Biden said nothing as to his home state’s history and the fact that it was dismantled and dismembered. And a Founding Father’s statue was removed.
Today, America will give this Founding Father, this very brave man, who was so horribly treated, the place of honor he deserves. I am announcing that a statue of Caesar Rodney will be added to the National Garden of American Heroes. (Applause.)
From Washington to Lincoln, from Jefferson to King, America has been home to some of the most incredible people who have ever lived. With the help of everyone here today, the legacy of 1776 will never be erased. Our heroes will never be forgotten. Our youth will be taught to love America with all of their heart and all of their soul.
We will save this cherished inheritance for our children, for their children, and for every generation to come. This is a very important day.
Thank you all once again for being here. Now I will sign the Constitution Day Proclamation. God Bless You. And God Bless America. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.
(The proclamation is signed.) (Applause.)
3:13 P.M. EDT
The Department of Education is demanding details and university officials to answer questions under oath. Princeton and the left are terribly pained that the new bosses of the educrats would be so literal. The end result will be a massive data dump and officials on the record proclaiming full compliance with federal civil rights laws, thereby showing just how trivial and deceptive claims of “systemic racism” actually are — possibly before most votes are cast in this tipping point election.
The letter is not from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Rather, it is appropriately signed by the assistant secretary for postsecondary education, Robert L. King. The Washington Examiner broke the story and has embedded a copy of the five page letter with detailed demands. I wish that the digital content staff of the Department of Education were sufficiently under control to compel their posting of this public document. There should be video of a short press briefing, with DeVos and King expressing righteous wrath on behalf of Princeton students, staff, and parents. The letter is good but ineffective without being published and publicized as an example to all others.
Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber published this woke letter to the university community:
Letter from President Eisgruber on the University’s efforts to combat systemic racism
The Office of Communications
Sept. 2, 2020 2:53 p.m.
Letter from President Eisgruber on the University’s efforts to combat systemic racism
The Office of Communications
Sept. 2, 2020 2:53 p.m.
Photo byDenise Applewhite, Office of Communications
President Christopher L. Eisgruber has written to the University community to outline the next steps the University administration will take to address systemic racism at Princeton and beyond
Dear members of the Princeton community,
In June, I wrote to you as America entered a profound national reckoning with racism. That reckoning is at once painful, because the harms done by systemic racism have been exposed so starkly, and promising, because we are seeing widespread and urgent desire to take action to achieve a more just society.
With that goal in mind, I charged my Cabinet in June to develop plans to combat systemic racism at Princeton and beyond. In my letter, I invited suggestions from all of you, and many individuals and groups responded. I am grateful for your input, and I write now with an update about our progress.
My Cabinet colleagues and I began our work early in the summer as people throughout America and around the world protested the cruel and unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks. As the Cabinet gathered last week to discuss preliminary recommendations, the nation reeled once more after a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back.
This outrageous and awful violence has revealed yet again, and with searing intensity, the long, painful, and ongoing existence of anti-Black racism in America. Racial justice demands the scholarly and practical attention of this University. Princeton contributes to the world through teaching and research of unsurpassed quality, and we must continue to find ways to bring that mission to bear against racism, and against all of the discrimination that damages the lives of people of color.
We must ask how Princeton can address systemic racism in the world, and we must also ask how to address it within our own community. That is true even though, for at least the past fifty years, this University has committed itself to becoming more inclusive. At a University that, for most of its history, intentionally and systematically excluded people of color, women, Jews, and other minorities, Princetonians— from the oldest alumni to the newest undergraduates — now take pride in the diversity of our community. They thrill to the achievements of all our students, faculty, and alumni, and they want Princeton to be a fully inclusive community.
Racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persist at Princeton as in our society, sometimes by conscious intention but more often through unexamined assumptions and stereotypes, ignorance or insensitivity, and the systemic legacy of past decisions and policies. Race-based inequities in America’s health care, policing, education, and employment systems affect profoundly the lives of our staff, students, and faculty of color.
Racist assumptions from the past also remain embedded in structures of the University itself. For example, Princeton inherits from earlier generations at least nine departments and programs organized around European languages and culture, but only a single, relatively small program in African studies.
This summer’s effort to address systemic racism began with changes and initiatives that we announced in June. These included new funding for teaching, research, and service projects related to racial justice and the changes to the names of what are now the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and First College.
Then, during July and August, my Cabinet colleagues examined systems and practices covering all facets of the University. They produced an impressive range of data-driven insights, recommendations, and questions for further study that we are now pursuing.
Much of this work is unglamorous, focused not on flashy symbols but on the nuts and bolts of University management. That is essential: to care about eradicating systemic racism, one has to care about systems. The Cabinet understands how to interrogate and improve the University’s systems, and I am proud of the dedication and imagination brought to the charge I gave its members. We expect our work to continue throughout this year and beyond, and Provost Deborah Prentice and I will communicate with you about it as we develop further plans and initiatives.
In my charge to the Cabinet, I specifically asked my colleagues to consider both the University’s own operations and how we could partner with organizations and communities around us to fight systemic racism in the world at large. In the Cabinet’s inquiry into this topic, one question emerged as especially important: how might Princeton extend its educational mission to reach underserved populations around it?
As a result of its history and structure, Princeton has none of the degree-granting continuing education, general education, or related outreach programs that exist at almost all of our peers. This kind of teaching initiative might simultaneously help to address the effects of systemic racism and expand the horizons of our scholarly and educational community. Our growing experience with online learning adds to the tools we might use to enhance such a project.
Developing such a program would be a major undertaking that would benefit from University-wide discussion, and it would require support from the faculty and the Board of Trustees. It could present novel opportunities to partner with other colleges, institutions, or communities in our region and beyond. I have authorized further exploration of the possibility, and Provost Prentice has agreed to oversee the effort.
In addition to exploring the possibility of a new credit- or degree-granting program that would extend Princeton’s teaching to a new range of students from communities disproportionately affected by systemic racism and related forms of disadvantage, the Cabinet identified several priorities for collective, University-wide work beginning immediately:
Assemble a faculty that more closely reflects both the diverse makeup of the students we educate and the national pool of candidates. To that end, we will undertake enhanced efforts to expand diversity of the faculty pipeline, and aspire to increase by 50 percent the number of tenured or tenure-track faculty members from underrepresented groups over the next five years. To enable the realization of these aspirations, we intend to use a broad range of existing and supplemental strategies, including thoughtful recruiting efforts to identify diverse candidate pools, encouraging departments to move into new fields or subfields that might offer diverse talent pools, and allowing hiring units increased flexibility to search in advance of future vacancies;
Establish and strengthen parallel initiatives to diversify Princeton’s postdoctoral researchers, lecturers, visiting faculty, and graduate students, again with the aspiration of significantly increasing the number of scholars from underrepresented groups;
Reconceive the Faculty Advisory Committee on Diversity to provide further leadership and oversight regarding departments’ recruitment and retention procedures, financial resources, and curriculum development;
Develop an institution-wide, multi-year action plan for supplier and contractor diversity, bringing together and expanding efforts focused on procurement and diversification of vendors, consultants, professional firms, and other business partners, including external investment managers;
Initiate a trustee-level ad hoc committee, augmented by students, faculty, alumni, and staff from the Council of the Princeton University Community Committee on Naming, to recommend principles to govern changes in naming and other campus iconography, in conjunction with other ongoing efforts to diversify Princeton’s institutional narrative and strengthen the welcoming character of the campus;
Review Princeton’s benefits and policies, including the Tuition Assistance and Children’s Educational Assistance Plans, with an eye to enhancing equity for employees in lower-paid positions and others who might have been disproportionately affected by systemic racism or other class-based disadvantages;
Strengthen support for ongoing anti-racism and diversity-related professional development and other educational opportunities for the campus community, including appropriate instruction for individuals with managerial or hiring responsibilities, as well as offerings regarding inter-group dialogue, inclusive pedagogy, and bias response.
To provide increased accountability around these goals, we will collect and publish additional data, including an annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion report; we will also make enhanced efforts to diversify external advisory committees throughout the University. We are in conversations with faculty members about academic initiatives on topics relevant to systemic racism.
Over the coming days and months, we will arrange opportunities for community input, dialogue, and discussion. We are in the process of planning multiple town halls for this purpose during September and October. We need your ideas, and, more than that, we need your engagement to make this University better. While my Cabinet will continue to pursue these measures, to implement other recommendations generated over the summer, and to develop additional ideas, real progress will depend upon continued commitment from throughout the University.
That is especially so with regard to faculty hiring and graduate student recruitment. Universities are decentralized by design, so that crucial decisions about hiring and curriculum benefit from the expertise of world-class scholars who know the relevant subject matter.
We can and will provide central support and increased accountability to enhance Princeton’s diversity, but there are limits, including legal restrictions, to what we can do or require as we press ahead with initiatives to diversify the University. For example, we cannot reserve jobs or specific positions for members of underrepresented minority groups. The interest and commitment expressed by faculty members and others throughout this University leaves me confident, however, that we can achieve our aspirational goals by working together collaboratively and energetically to identify outstanding scholars, and that we can do so in ways fully consistent with legal restrictions, academic freedom, and other defining principles of this University.
Indeed, on nearly all of the topics mentioned in this letter and others to come in the future, success will require sustained effort and continued commitment from the entire University community. It will not be easy, but the benefits will be tremendous. My colleagues and I look forward to hearing from you, communicating with you, and partnering with you to make Princeton fully inclusive, and to fight the systemic racism that has for too long damaged the lives of Black, Indigenous, and people of color, both at this University and in the United States more broadly.
With best wishes,
Christopher L. Eisgruber
Now, instead of playing along, the Department of Education has taken the university president at his word.