PBS Sees Trump Ending CRT, Trans Ideology in School as McCarthyite Anti-LGBTQ ‘Purge’

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The Wednesday edition of the PBS NewsHour featured perhaps the outlet’s most radical member, White House correspondent Laura Barron-Lopez, launching a paranoid broadside against the Trump campaign and the Heritage Foundation’s collection of presidential policy proposals known as “Project 2025.”

Guest anchor William Brangham set up Barron-Lopez’s radical take, conflating privileges that fly in the face of biology and common sense (boys on girls’ sports teams, genital surgery for minors) under the misleading banner of “civil rights”:

Barron-Lopez explained that Trump’s “allies have drafted a sweeping document titled Project 2025…by the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation” and stoked fear that the plan acknowledged biological science:

Also on Trump’s “chopping block”: eliminating DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) from government mandates and banning federal funding for teaching Critical Race Theory.

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It sounds like a mainstream backlash to recent radical overstepping by the identity-obsessed left, but one which tax-funded PBS greeted with alarm. 

Barron-Lopez described the authors as “roughly 100 right-wing organizations led by the Heritage Foundation,” including some former Trump administration officials”

Barron-Lopez didn’t blink at that hysterical take but simply forwarded that apocalyptic spin:

Truly bizarre.

PBS NewsHour

3/27/24

7:17:09 p.m. (ET)

William Brangham: On the campaign trail, Trump has been talking about what he plans to do if elected in November, and that includes rolling back the rights of millions of LGBTQ people. It’s part of a wider playbook to undo many modern civil rights advances for minority groups.

White House correspondent Laura Barron-Lopez has been following this, and she joins us now. Hi.

Laura Barron-Lopez: Hi.

William Brangham: So, on LGBTQ rights, what has Trump said he wants to do?

Laura Barron-Lopez: Since launching his campaign, former President Donald Trump has targeted LGBTQ people, transgender people. He’s attacked gender-affirming care for minors, as well as their ability to play in sports.

And he says that he plans quick action if elected.

Donald Trump, Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate: On day one, I will sign a new executive order to cut federal funding for any school pushing Critical Race Theory, transgender insanity, and other inappropriate racial, sexual, or political content onto our children

Laura Barron-Lopez: That promise you just heard, William, has become a staple of former President Donald Trump ‘s campaign rallies.

William Brangham: How much of that, though, is just campaign rally rhetoric? I mean, we know that kind of language excites a certain slice of his base. How much of that is just him talking versus what he actually plans to do?

Laura Barron-Lopez: Well, it’s not just campaign rhetoric.

And his allies have drafted a sweeping document titled Project 2025. It’s led by the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, and it details a blueprint for a second term for Trump.

Specifically on restricting LGBTQ rights, what that details is reinstating a transgender military ban, limiting LGBTQ workplace discrimination protections. Currently, under the law, sexual orientation, and gender identity are protected. It would rescind health care protections for transgender people and urge Congress to define gender as male and female, fixed at birth.

Trump has repeatedly said, also, William, that he would ban gender-affirming care for minors. And this playbook makes pretty clear that his plan — this plan also is trying to stop any and all acknowledgement of an acceptance of gender identity and LGBTQ people, period.

And so, throughout this blueprint, there’s some pretty striking language where government — saying that government officials should only recognize marriages between a man and a woman and that a man and a woman are the ideal natural family structure.

Also, in addition to that, William, Trump has outlined a number of policies that essentially help minority groups and that they would be on the chopping block. So, when it comes to Project 2025 cuts to diversity, what the plan would do is delete diversity, equity and inclusion from every piece of legislation, remove diversity, equity, inclusion offices from federal agencies, curtail the teaching of race and racism, and urge Congress to ban federal funds for Critical Race Theory training.

Essentially, William, Trump has vowed on the campaign trail to terminate all DEI programs.

William Brangham: Are all of those things that you listed, are those within the purview of the president? Can he legally just go ahead and do those things?

Laura Barron-Lopez: So, technically, this relies on Trump, if he is reelected, enacting a legal concept known as the unitary executive theory, and that’s outlined in Project 2025.

And it essentially suggests that Trump could basically just work around or ignore congressional oversight. And we spoke to Kim Wehle — she’s the professor — a law professor at the University of Baltimore — about Trump’s ability to carry out Project 2025.

Kimberly Wehle, Former U.S. Associate Independent Counsel: With Donald Trump , the question isn’t so much what the law authorizes. It’s that if he has an army of employees that are willing to be loyal to whatever he wants and they implement what he directs, then the question is, is there going to be pushback through Congress, through the courts, through the voters?

If there’s no accountability and pushback, then the answer to your question is, yes, then these things can happen, because there’s nothing to stop him.

Laura Barron-Lopez: As you heard Professor Wehle say there, this plan really relies on loyalists being installed across the board in government for him to be able to carry this out.

William Brangham: I mean, as you and others have reported, I mean, this — these LGBTQ changes, proposed changes, are pretty sweeping.

But Project 2025 has a lot of other things. Who is it — you mentioned it’s Heritage, but who else is behind this project?

Laura Barron-Lopez: So this draft blueprint playbook was created by roughly 100 right-wing organizations led by the Heritage Foundation.

And a number of these authors are actually people that worked in Trump’s administration when he was president, including Peter Navarro, a former White House official, Roger Severino of the Health and Human Services department, and Ken Cuccinelli at the Homeland Security Department. They have all contributed to drafting this.

They’re contenders for a future Cabinet if Trump were to win reelection. This is a 180-day manual of sorts, William, that outlines the ability for former President Trump to consolidate power under the presidency.

And I spoke to Professor Thomas Zimmer at Georgetown, who studies authoritarian regimes, and he explained that Trump wasn’t necessarily able to institute this in 2017, when he first took office, because he didn’t have the amount of loyalists that he plans on having across the board.

And with these new loyalists, Zimmer said, he can advance a white Christian evangelical ideal of American society.

Thomas Zimmer, Georgetown University: This is not going to beat Trump presidency part two, just more of the same. This is qualitatively something very, very different. It is opposed to egalitarian democracy because it fundamentally does not agree that all people are equal or deserve to be treated as equal citizens.

Only those who belong to the — quote, unquote — “true people,” to real America, deserve that. And so everyone else needs to either be purged from the nation or, at the very least, accept their sort of lesser place in society.

Laura Barron-Lopez: Professor Zimmer added that that type of purging he’s talking about takes roots in the McCarthyism of the early 1950s, where they essentially tried to sweep away anyone across American society that would deviate from perceived norms.

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