The most important question, and biggest lie, of the Presidential Debate & relevance to Palo Alto | A Pragmatist's Take | Douglas Moran | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

By Douglas Moran

The most important question, and biggest lie, of the Presidential Debate & relevance to Palo Alto

Uploaded: Oct 1, 2020

Moderator Chris Wallace was responsible for the biggest lie in the portions of the Presidential Debate that I could listen to. He asked of Trump "This month, your administration directed federal agencies to end racial sensitivity training that addresses white privilege or critical race theory. Why did you decide to do that, to end racial sensitivity training? And do you believe that there is systemic racism in this country, sir?"

Why do I call this a lie and not a wild mischaracterization? Because Trump's "^Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping^" (#13950, issued 2020-09-22; revoked on 2021-01-20 by Biden's "^Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government^") had definitions of what was banned ... reproduced in the below section "Executive Order: Sec. 2. Definitions". For example, section (a)(1) bans teaching that "one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex". In what world would teaching that be seen as promoting "racial sensitivity"? Wallace was simply following the Democratic Party talking points on this. It is implausible that Wallace didn't read the text of this order, both as part of his "day job" and preparing this debate question. Then there was the substantial debate around this order.(foot#1)

I also recommend reading Section 1 of the ^Executive Order^. The eighth paragraph unhelpfully refers to a "Smithsonian Institution museum graphic". This graphic is "Aspects and Assumptions of White Culture" which was part of ^National Museum of African American History and Culture^ in its "Whiteness" section of "Talking About Race". It seemed intended to characterize "White Culture" as "the other", but was taken down as an embarrassment because it was extremely racist against Blacks by implying that Blacks didn't/couldn't have those characteristics (Self-reliance, Nuclear family, Scientific method, Hard work is the key to success, Delayed gratification, Be polite, ...).(foot#2)

What seemed to have provoked the Executive Order was an increasing stream of complaints that a significant part of these "training" sessions involved Whites being required to publicly "confess" their racism. The goal of the confession was not truth or self-understanding, but humiliation. It was too reminiscent (derived?) from the "struggle sessions" of the Chinese Communist Party.

A transcript of the responses from Trump and Biden is provided in a section below.

----Why relevant to Palo Alto?----

Why did I label the question "the most important"? Because it goes to the basic questions of how our society is structured. Very briefly and roughly: Critical Race Theory is a descendant of Marxist thought, with adversarial groups based on immutable characteristics such as race fighting for power, and with oppressors and victims. For me, this is reminiscent of how societies of clans and tribes operate. Opposing this is the idea of the advantages of much larger societies.(foot#3)

Critical Race Theory and closely related dogmas have been dominant in Democratic Party politics and policies for years. I say this based upon what leading Democratic officials say and write, and what appears in media that is closely aligned with the Democratic Party -- often to the extent that media functions as publicity firms. It is also strongly represented in Democratic Party platforms, at the national, state, and county levels. It was included in the questionnaires for candidates seeking endorsements from the Santa Clara County Democratic Party (county's Central Committee).

I regard one of the current City Council members to be an adherent of Critical Race Theory, and another to be an adherent or at least highly likely to support its agenda. From listening to the candidates for Council, I suspect that possibly four are adherents.
Disclosure: Because am working on the campaign of one Council candidate, I have precluded myself from naming names.

The Foothills Park conflict is a preview of very how nasty it can get. And if the Critical Race Theory and other Woke people get a larger presence on Council, there will likely be more and larger such conflicts.

Will we need a permanent section on the Council agenda for ^virtue signaling^ proclamations and resolutions? It could be for egos that want to believe that the world is just waiting to hear what the Palo Alto City Council thinks on a wide range of topics. Or it may be Councilmembers preparing to run for higher office by building a vacuous resume to impress those who don't know better.

----Guidelines for Comments----

The topic is "relevance to Palo Alto" and the audience is primarily Palo Altans. Please use your judgment in making your comments appropriate for the topic and audience.

Off-topic: Topics that are widely discussed elsewhere -- There has already been too much ink-equivalent spilled over this.
"Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it." is not acceptable.
• The conduct of that Presidential debate: candidates, moderator, ...
• The Presidential candidates' answers.
• What you think was the big lie, most important issue, or other ^WhatAboutism^.
• The definitions of Critical Race Theory and debate about those definitions. Arguments for or against Critical Race Theory. This debate goes back over 20 years.
ad hominem attacks, such as claiming bias by falsely claiming I am a Republican. FYI: Earlier entries in this blog have expressed hostility to the Republican Party.
This should not be taken as a complete list, but rather as examples.

WARNING: Comments disappearing during submission
If you are writing a long comment, do not write it inside the comment box here, but rather write it elsewhere and copy-and-paste it into here. Every now and then, a comment will disappear during the SUBMIT process.
Details: This has happened to me and to others, but it hasn't been reliably reproducible. It happens between the submission of the CAPTCHA and the redisplay of the page that should have your comment added. I have suspicions that it involves the browser's security and ad-blocking settings and ads whose coding includes suspicious actions.

----Executive Order: Sec. 2. Definitions----

For the purposes of this order, the phrase:

(a) "Divisive concepts" means the concepts that
(1) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
(2) the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist;
(3) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
(4) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex;
(5) members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex;
(6) an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex;
(7) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
(8) any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex; or
(9) meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race. The term "divisive concepts" also includes any other form of race or sex stereotyping or any other form of race or sex scapegoating.

(b) "Race or sex stereotyping" means ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of his or her race or sex.

(c) "Race or sex scapegoating" means assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex. It similarly encompasses any claim that, consciously or unconsciously, and by virtue of his or her race or sex, members of any race are inherently racist or are inherently inclined to oppress others, or that members of a sex are inherently sexist or inclined to oppress others.

(d) "Senior political appointee" means an individual appointed by the President, or a non-career member of the Senior Executive Service (or agency-equivalent system).

----Transcript for this question and responses----

Chris Wallace: This month, your administration directed federal agencies to end racial sensitivity training that addresses white privilege or critical race theory. Why did you decide to do that, to end racial sensitivity training? And do you believe that there is systemic racism in this country, sir?

Donald Trump: I ended it because it's racist. I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane. That is a radical revolution that was taking place in our military, in our schools, all over the place. And you know it, and so does everybody else. And he would know it- ((crosstalk))

Chris Wallace: What is radical about racial sensitivity training?

Donald Trump: If you were a certain person, you had no status in life. It was sort of a reversal. And if you look at the people, we were paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach very bad ideas and frankly, very sick ideas. And really, they were teaching people to hate our country. And I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to allow that to happen. We have to go back to the core values of this country. They were teaching people that our country is a horrible place. It's a racist place. And they were teaching people to hate our country. And I'm not going to allow that to happen.

Chris Wallace: Vice President Biden.

Joe Biden: Nobody's doing that. He's the racist.

Donald Trump: You just don't know.

Joe Biden: Here's the deal. I know a lot more about this- ((crosstalk)).

Chris Wallace: Let him finish.

Joe Biden: The fact is that there is racial insensitivity. People have to be made aware of what other people feel like, what insults them, what is demeaning to them. It's important people know. Many people don't want to hurt other people's feelings, but it makes a big difference. It makes a gigantic difference in the way a child is able to grow up and have a sense of self-esteem. It's a little bit like how this guy and his friends look down on so many people. They look down their nose on people like Irish Catholics, like me, who grow up in Scranton. They look down on people who don't have money. They look down on people who are of a different faith. They looked down on people who are a different color. In fact, we're all Americans. The only way we're going to bring this country together is bring everybody together. There's nothing we cannot do, if we do it together. We can take this on and we can defeat racism in American.

((transitions into "law-and-order" and the summer of violence.))

1. Chris Wallace:
Although Chris Wallace works for Fox News Channel, his biases are not what you would guess. He has acquired the reputation of being not just biased, but highly partisan, against Trump and Republicans in his interviews. It was fully expected that Wallace would frame his questions to favor Biden.
And that wasn't the only time a fact-checker was needed for Wallace's questions. Such is the state of today's media.

2. Poster: "Aspects and Assumptions of White Culture"
Although no longer on the Museum's website, it can be found in various news articles of that time.
Top of my web search for the graphic: ^In Smithsonian Race Guidelines, Rational Thinking and Hard Work Are White Values^, Newsweek, 2020-07-17.
This PowerPoint slide (simple text) is often credited as the origin of the list "^Some Aspects and Assumptions of White Culture in the United States^" (PDF).

3. Aside: Tribes vs larger societies:
A thought-provoking article on a potential dynamic is "^A New Theory of Western Civilization^" by Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, October 2020. "Could a marriage policy first pursued by the Catholic Church a millennium and a half ago explain what made the industrialized world so powerful--and so peculiar?"
You might also look at discussion of "Honor Cultures" (tribes and low-government areas) versus "Dignity Culture".In the latter, the individual cedes determination of offense, guilt, punishment, others and accepts the need for tolerance of smaller offense, real or imagined.

An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.

----Boilerplate on Commenting----
The ^Guidelines^ for comments on this blog are different from those on Town Square Forums. I am attempting to foster more civility and substantive comments by deleting violations of the guidelines.

I am particularly strict about misrepresenting what others have said (me or other commenters). If I judge your comment as likely to provoke a response of "That is not what was said", do not be surprised to have it deleted. My primary goal is to avoid unnecessary and undesirable back-and-forth, but such misrepresentations also indicate that the author is unwilling/unable to participate in a meaningful, respectful conversation on the topic.
A slur is not an argument. Neither are other forms of vilification of other participants.

If you behave like a ^Troll^, do not waste your time protesting when you get treated like one.