Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley sent a letter to the Smithsonian Monday demanding answers on why a taxpayer-funded museum released a racist curriculum earlier this month on how to identify “whiteness.”
Last week, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) began promoting their newest initiative, “Talking About Race.” It outlines what it claims are key characteristics of white people, including possession of a “master and control nature” and “aggressiveness.”
The museum’s controversial “Aspects and Assumptions of Whiteness in the United States” chart, which provided a synopsis of the alleged race scholars’ new program, was later removed from its website on Thursday following backlash against its racist assertions.
“The ‘Talking About Race’ website claims the material is meant to provide an ‘opportunity to engage in thoughtful, respectful, and productive conversations’ about race in America,” Hawley wrote. “However, the materials published under this initiative – some of which have recently been removed after public scrutiny – appear to embrace ideas liklier to foment racial division than mutual respect and understanding.”
Hawley noted that some ideas asserted by scholars as unique to white culture included “‘Self-Reliance,’ ‘The Nuclear Family,’ ‘Objective, rational linear thinking,’ ‘Hard work is the key to success,’ ‘Plan for the future,’ ‘Quantitative emphasis,’ ‘Intent counts,’ and ‘Be polite.'”
“The claim that these qualities and commitments – ideas Americans of all races have traditionally celebrated and strived to teach their children – are distinctive to white Americans would be troubling enough given its implication that they are foreign to Americans of color,” Hawley wrote. “However, the position of the Smithsonian, as suggested by the materials prior to their removal, appeared to be more troubling: that these attributes are actually emblems of ‘structural racism’ in American life to be rejected rather than embraced.”
Hawley gave Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch two days with a Wednesday deadline to respond to a set of questions explaining how the museum came to use public resources to promote racism. Hawley is also demanding the institute outline its payments to “White Fragility” author Robin DiAngelo and others referenced as part of the exhibit. DiAngelo, hailed as the architect of critical race theory, reportedly took $12,000 for a single speech at the University of Kentucky.