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Trump vows to fight ‘anti-white feeling’ in US. His allies have a plan

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Donald Trump’s pledge to fight what he calls “anti-white feeling” in the US will likely embolden allies who seek to dismantle government and corporate programmes created to battle racism and boost diversity in American life.

Republican presidential candidate and former US president Donald Trump greets supporters as he attends a rally in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. US. File picture: Reuters, Eduardo Munoz

By Gram Slattery and Nathan Layne

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump’s pledge to fight what he calls “anti-white feeling” in the US will likely embolden allies who seek to dismantle government and corporate programmes created to battle racism and boost diversity in American life.

Some high-profile supporters of the former president, now the 2024 Republican presidential candidate, say policies for safeguarding people of colour in classrooms, workplaces and charities should be repurposed to protect the rights of white people as well.

“I think there is a definite anti-white feeling in this country,” Trump told Time in an interview published on Tuesday. “I don’t think it would be a very tough thing to address, frankly. But I think the laws are very unfair right now.”

Trump did not specify examples of anti-white bias nor policy prescriptions in the interview.

But Trump’s campaign website lays out several plans, and some of his allies are making detailed recommendations should Trump win back the White House from Democrat Joe Biden in a November 5 election.

One Trump proposal would reverse Biden’s executive order requiring federal agencies to assess whether underserved communities – including people of colour, LGBTQ Americans and rural Americans – can adequately access their programmes.

At campaign rallies, Trump pledges to strip funds from schools teaching critical race theory, an academic concept – rarely taught in public schools – that rests on the premise that racial bias is baked into US institutions.

One campaign adviser, Lynne Patton, told conservative activist and journalist Laura Loomer in an interview posted on Friday that she expected a second Trump White House would refuse federal money to any schools, companies or charities that enacted hiring practices under Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programmes, widely known as DEI.

Rights advocates assail what they view as any efforts to deny communities of colour equal footing. They say the programmes Trump wants to dismantle exist to reverse centuries of documented inequities.

“There’s always been an ability to foment this kind of anxiety and frustration among many whites whenever an effort to level the playing field for non-whites has been successful in any way,” said Tricia Rose, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University.

One Trump ally, Gene Hamilton, told Reuters the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division must ensure that corporate programmes meant to boost diversity in the workplace are not themselves discriminatory.

The department could derive its authority, he said, in part from Section VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Passed during a time when Black Americans campaigned aggressively for civil rights, the act prohibits hiring or compensation decisions based on “race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Hamilton, who served in the Justice Department under Trump, says the act should protect white people as well. For instance, a hiring programme meant to boost the number of people of colour in the workplace should not exclude other applicants.

Such a focus would depart dramatically from the Civil Rights Division’s historic role of protecting marginalised groups.

In recent years, it has led investigations into police departments for alleged racism against black Americans and sued companies for discriminating against immigrants.

“Programmes and policies … that deny benefits or employment to Americans solely because of their race or their sex or anything of the sort is violative of that central tenet that has held the country together,” said Hamilton, who laid out his views in a policy book published by a consortium of Trump-friendly think tanks known as Project 2025.

A POLICY BLUEPRINT FOR A SECOND TRUMP TERM

While the Trump campaign has distanced itself from the project, the consortium has drafted a policy blueprint for a potential Trump administration. Many of the former president’s allies are involved.

In practice, official race-based complaints of anti-white workplace discrimination appear to be rare.

For instance, only a fraction of race-based claims before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an independent government agency, are filed by white people, who make up the majority of the American workforce.

Still, a majority of self-identified Trump voters believe that white Americans face discrimination. Some 53% of self-identified Trump voters responding to a March Reuters/Ipsos poll said they believed that white people in the US are discriminated against because of the colour of their skin, compared with 14% of self-identified Biden voters.

One Project 2025 chapter, co-written by conservative economist and Trump adviser Stephen Moore, argues the Treasury Department should seek to fire employees who willingly take part in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programmes.

The chapter does not specify the programmes it considers to be a form of DEI, but the term often suggests a desire to increase diversity and make people of colour more comfortable in the workplace.

Asked about the Time magazine comments and the measures Trump would take to address anti-white bias, his campaign said in a statement that black and Hispanic Americans were more interested in immigration, crime and pocketbook issues than matters of race.

About 85% of black Americans said in a 2021 Gallup poll they were dissatisfied with how black people are treated in America.

“In his second term, President Trump will uplift all Americans regardless of race or religion,” said Patton, the campaign adviser.

Asked about the Time interview, Biden’s campaign said Trump’s policies would make life harder for communities of colour.

“Trump is making clear that if he wins in November, he’ll turn his racist record into official government policy, gutting programs that give communities of colour economic opportunities,” said Kevin Munoz, a campaign spokesperson.

In practice, some of the more radical proposals may be tricky – though not impossible – to implement, according to legal scholars.

For instance, while Civil Rights Act protections apply to white people, the Justice Department often lacks the authority to sue private employers under Title VII.

There are, however, several situations in which the Justice Department could get involved, said Susan Carle, a professor at American University. One example could include situations where a company holds contracts with the government, she said.

Patrice Willoughby, senior vice president at the NAACP, said the civil rights organisation would be prepared to organise boycotts of certain companies that acquiesced to attacks on equity programmes.

“When necessary we will not hesitate to use our economic power,” she said.

– REUTERS

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