The Alabama Legislature is poised to send a bill addressing “divisive concepts” and “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) in public institutions, including government agencies and schools, to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk to be signed into law this week. The bill has two main objectives:

1) To prohibit public institutions from advocating for so-called divisive concepts relating to race, sex, or religion; and, 

2) To prohibit public institutions from maintaining DEI programs and require restrooms to be designated on the basis of biological sex.

Because there has been much ado from the opponents of the bill that “divisive concepts” is overbroad, it is important to review the actual text. The bill defines divisive concepts to include the following ideas:

  • That any race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior. 

  • That individuals should be discriminated against or adversely treated because of their race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin. 

  • That the moral character of an individual is determined by his or her race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin. 

  • That, by virtue of an individual's race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, the individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously. 

  • That individuals, by virtue of race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin. 

  • That fault, blame, or bias should be assigned to members of a race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin. 

  • That any individual should accept, acknowledge, affirm, or assent to a sense of guilt, complicity, or a need to apologize on the basis of his or her race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin. 

  • That meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist.

Many of these ideas stem from Critical Race Theory (CRT) which is controversial in its own right. CRT is multi-faceted, but one of its primary principles is that racism is systemic in law and society as a whole, rather than just a matter of individual prejudice.

CRT developed in the latter half of the 20th century from the broader school of thought called “Critical Theory,” which was started by a group of academics known as the Frankfurt School in Weimar Germany after WWI. From its beginning, Critical Theory was rooted in the purpose of developing Marxism into more practical applications in society. Upon Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s, these Marxists at heart in the Frankfurt School immigrated to the United States to continue at Columbia University.

Hand in hand with CRT is the “organizational framework” of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) which also became a hot topic over the past several years, especially since 2016 and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. In simplest terms, DEI is just CRT put into practice.

Practically every other company on the S&P 500 now has a DEI “statement,” pledging commitment to ensuring DEI in the workplace, or even whole divisions devoted to DEI. Likewise, around half of all large colleges and universities across the country are now requiring current and/or prospective faculty members to pledge their support to this new orthodoxy as a part of their hiring, evaluation, and tenure processes. It is not surprising, then, that DEI has become its own multi-billion-dollar industry.

While this brief backstory does not give a full picture, it is important to consider the ideological ancestry of both CRT and DEI beliefs and teachings. It should not be a surprise that people are alarmed at the possibility (and in many instances, reality) that Marxist-derived teaching and practices are in effect in American public institutions, from Washington, D.C., down to the local library.

But what about freedom of speech?

If the divisive concepts bill actually barred the discussion of these “divisive concepts,” then it would be a clear violation of the First Amendment.

However, contrary to the alarms of its opposition, the bill does not limit the discussion or even teaching of these concepts so long as it is done so objectively by the public institution without endorsement or requiring agreement. Rather than limit free speech, the bill instead regulates the government from pushing a specific, highly controversial and divisive ideological worldview on the public in both public academia and employment. 

Talmadge Butts is Lead Staff Attorney for the Foundation for Moral Law ( Those with constitutional concerns may call the Foundation at (334) 262-1245 or email

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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