Tech Companies Call Trump EO Affront to Core Values

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Tech companies are not happy with President Donald Trump's executive order (EO) prohibiting government contractors, which obviously include many tech companies, from providing diversity training that "suggests America has a racial inequality problem."

In a blog post, Jason Oxman, president of ITI (the Information Technology Industry Council) said the tech industry ITI represents was "deeply concerned" with the order and the message it sends about systemic racism. 

"Fostering inclusion for individuals from historically marginalized communities is one of the core values of ITI and the greater tech industry," Oxman said. "We know our industry has a long way to go in terms of addressing the harms of systemic racism. However, at a time when Americans are seeking racial justice more than ever, this EO instead attacks our broadly shared values and risks undoing real progress toward building racial equity in the tech industry and America writ large."

He also said the order was an "unprecedented overreach" of the government into the values of privacy businesses. "ITI sees this EO as an affront to our industry’s core values, an attack on free enterprise and, most importantly, an unacceptable step backward for racial equity," he said. 

In an executive order issued Sept. 22, the President called it a "pernicious and false belief" that the country is "an irredeemably racist and sexist country," and that "some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors." The order requires clauses in government contracts preventing diversity training that includes that belief.

The President called that concept of systemic oppression a destructive ideology and a misrepresentation of history rooted in the "discredited notions of the nineteenth century's apologists for slavery..."

The executive order said that ideology is "migrating from the fringes of American society and threatens to infect core institutions of our country." He cited a Department of Treasury seminar that he said promoted the argument that "virtually all White people, regardless of how 'woke' they are, contribute to racism," and that instructed small group leaders to encourage employees to avoid 'narratives' that Americans should 'be more color-blind' or 'let people's skills and personalities be what differentiates them.'"

It also references a Smithsonian Institution museum graphic that claimed "objective, rational linear thinking, 'hard work' being 'the key to success,' the 'nuclear family,' and belief in a single god are not values that unite Americans of all races but are instead 'aspects and assumptions of whiteness.'"

The executive order signaled the President saw that as coercion toward viewpoint uniformity and must itself be rooted out. As a result, the order said, no government dollars can go to contractors whose "workplace training" includes that "the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist" and "an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously" and "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."

It also said the Armed Forces shall not teach these concepts or punish any member of those forces that rejects such concepts.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.