The DEI Ruse Is Imploding– By: Victor Davis Hanson
Part One – January 9, 2024
Has there ever been a sane nation in the world that preferred “diversity” to “unity”? The former Yugoslavia was certainly “diverse,” and it finally stressed its diversity to the point of unending death and destruction. Ditto Rwanda and Iraq. So what exactly was the advantage of ditching the melting pot for the tribalist salad bowl? What was the historical argument for making race essential rather than incidental to who we are—other than institutionalizing racial bias and prejudice to further the careers of mostly middle-class and upper-middle-class “marginalized people”? And what sort of diversity did DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) promote? Religious? Not at all, at least in the case of Christianity. Declaring oneself overtly Catholic or Protestant would certainly be unorthodox and “diverse” on campus, but not encouraged and more likely a cause for social or career ostracism. Ideology? Was diversity designed to ensure a matter of all sorts of political views? Again, no. Most polls of faculty, especially on the supposed “elite” campuses—whether calibrated by party identification, donations to political causes and candidates, or by ideology—consistently show somewhere between 90–95 percent of academics identify as Democrats or parties to their left, or as “progressive,” or even further still to the left. Did diversity imply or include class in its definition? Not at all. Most academics are from the upper-middle or professional or aristocratic classes. Claudine Gay, for example, is from a rich Haitian immigrant family (family cement magnates)—a world away from East Palestine, Ohio. She went to one of the nation’s top boarding schools (Phillips Exeter Academy), then Princeton for a year, then Stanford, then Harvard. Ditto all sorts of “diversity” professionals. Remember when Joe Biden announced in advance that he would pick only a “diverse” Vice President, as in a black woman—apparently on the post-George-Floyd rationale that we needed a diverse voice close to the president? Yet both of Kamala Harris’s parents were immigrant PhDs. Her father was a Stanford economics professor, her mother, also an immigrant, was from a well-off Brahmin Hindu caste, a Berkeley PhD, and a cancer researcher. What exactly “diverse” did this upper-middle class elite bring to the White House, other than an anemic résumé jumpstarted through a long liaison with California’s politico Willie Brown? The list of hoi aristoi whom we feel to be oppressed by deplorables of America could go on. But there is a reason DEI has nothing to do with class since those who benefit most from it so often are not in need and are among our upper classes. Diversity then is mostly about being non-white, and to a lesser extent non-male or non-heterosexual—and sometimes making a lot of money off ghost racism. It is mostly a careerist enterprise, a sort of indemnity insurance that protects the holder from criticism, reprimand, or dismissal on grounds of “racism,” “sexism,” or “homophobia.” In the case of Ibram X. Kendi, he siphoned $40 million in corporate cash infusions for his now imploding, “Center for Antiracist Research” at Boston University. That “institute” published almost nothing, conducted little if any research, and had no real existence other than serving as a receptacle for profiteering and grifting in the post-George Floyd and How to be An Antiracist cult era. Still, Kendi’s haul was a distant second to the $90–100 million that BLM founders bragged was “white guilt money”—and which is still mostly unaccounted for. DEI elites made the argument to rich liberal bicoastal elites that institutionalizing bias and prejudice would somehow help the underclasses of the inner cities, whose plight was usually off-limits to constructive solutions that circumvented the professional racial grievances industry. And part of the implicit bargain was that using race to promote upper-middle-class professionals along their career paths would alleviate white liberal guilt and ensure indemnity as well.
Part Two – January 10, 2024
Equity was rebranded as a word to redefine equality as a mandated equalness of result rather than an equality of opportunity. This “spread the wealth” ideology is by design contrary to the Constitution’s devotion to liberty and freedom. DEI’s “equity,” then, is the neo-socialist effort to use government power, reinforced by popular culture, to suppress the perceived wealthy, the more fortunate, and the better off, and then to redistribute their money, influence, and power—summed up as “privilege”—to those arbitrarily labeled less well-off and less fortunate. And there is always the age-old Marxist qualifier that the revolutionaries who determine who is oppressed and who is oppressive are themselves never subject to the consequences of their own ideology. It is the John Kerry logic that only by flying in a carbon-spewing private jet can he hit all the climate conferences and reduce carbon spewing. So our cultural Marxists demand teachers’ unions and hate vouchers and charter schools—as their kids go to prep schools. They defund the police—but usually have access to private security. They demand all-electric vehicles—while they fly on Citations and Gulfstreams. They are versions of the old revolutionaries that were all born rich or at least upper-middle-class—our era’s Trotskys, Lenins, Marxes, Ho Chi Minhs, Mao Zedongs, Castros, and Che Guevaras. The most dangerous Marxists always arise from the bored and guilty privileged and well-off. DEI’s idea of “equity” shares the Marxist boilerplate of just two classes at war with each other. The middle class does not or should not exist as the proletariat of the many battle the few property-holding and despised bourgeoisie. But DEI takes that old, tired binary of oppressed/oppressor and victimized/victimizer and now substitutes race for class. Why? Marxist binaries never worked in the United States. America’s dynamic economy, upward mobility, and class fluidity ensured too often that yesterday’s supposedly doomed proletarian peasant will be tomorrow’s bourgeois owner of a car wash and landscaping business. But substitute immutable race as the barometer of oppression and then you have a supposedly permanent victimized class, one freed from the problem of an absence of class oppression. Presto, suddenly, any non-white, non-male, or non-heterosexual is by fiat a victim—regardless of running their $40 million “Antiracist” center, or raking in $100 million from capitalist corporations, or holding a Princeton full-professorship, or Harvard presidency. By virtue of their supposed non-white status, Kamala Harris, Barack Obama, LeBron James, and Oprah Winfrey will never have privilege, even though they have more of it—money, comfort, influence, and followings—than almost anyone in America. So equity was not about class at all—given that even many of the DEI hierarchy from Ibram X. Kendi (father: tax accountant; mother: business analyst) to Ta-Nehisi Coates (father: a publisher; mother: a teacher) to Cornell West (mother: high school principal; father: defense department contractor) were solidly middle-class to upper-middle class. Michelle Obama recently gave a speech in Berlin to a leftwing group and commanded a $750,000 fee for a one-hour lecture. But note it was on “Diversity” and “Inclusion,” but somehow Michelle omitted “Equity”from the holy woke trinity.
Again, why? Perhaps because there is nothing “equitable” about commandeering $12,500 a minute—a 60-second sum more than most people in the world make in a year. The Obamas’ worth has grown since 2009 and now has reached perhaps $100-200 million, perhaps not including their new Hawaii estate. They remain big DE[?]I stalwarts, often lecturing the clinging and deplorable American people on their racist shortcomings and biases from one of their four mansions—in Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Martha’s Vineyard, or Chicago. The idea that millionaire Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, or billionaire LeBron James are somehow part of a downtrodden group by virtue of their race is absurd. But then again is the entire notion of oppressor/oppressed or victimizer/ victimized that omits all context of individual character, history, merit, and class? So in the twilight of woke, expect to see more “DI” or “Diversity and Inclusion” as “Equity” drops out, given so many of the DEI movement are upwardly mobile careerists.
Part Three – January 12, 2024
From Equity to Inclusion
No one has made the argument that race in 2024 is an accurate barometer of oppression. And we know the myriad reasons why: how do you determine one’s exact racial percentage in a society of millions of mixed ancestries; why are non-white Asians and a dozen other so-called nonwhite minorities earning more money than are so-called whites; and why are there vast class differences among whites, blacks, and Latinos, to such a degree that poor whites in the rural Midwest have little in common with Silicon Valley elites, just as immigrant grandee Claudine Gay has no intrinsic tie to inner-city blacks. One strange thing about this crazy DEI racket is that among the very brightest minds in academia and journalism, to take just two career examples of professors and reporters, are African American luminaries like Roland Fryer, Glen Loury, Jason Riley, Thomas Sowell, and Shelby Steele. They never needed anything like DEI. They all have justified confidence in their own talent, character, and work ethic, and apparently knew well the toxic relationship between elite white liberal guilt and its twin, the professional and careerist marginalized people victim class. DEI was always about excluding people based on their race, never about including them. It was a reverse civil rights movement. If George Wallace in January 1963 promised “and I say … segregation today … segregation tomorrow … segregation forever,” today universities nod agreement and thus have racially separate graduations, racially segregated dormitories, and racially set-aside spaces on their campus. So much of the surrealism of the Antebellum South and later Jim Crow has found their way into DEI. And why is that shocking, since once anyone goes down the crooked path of racial essentialism for preferences in admission, hiring, promotion, or job tenure, then one needs to employ qualifying racist criteria. And that leads to what exactly? The one-drop rule? The one-sixteenth measure of race of the Confederacy? A DNA test to update the work of apartheid genealogists of old? How do you exclude the grifters like the Liz Warrens and Ward Churchills, or the third-generation Latinos of the upper-middle class who suddenly begin adding accents to their names and trilling their r’s? How do you determine the DNA status of the divorced white woman applying for a professorship who was once married to a Columbian—Liz Garcia-Smith? And how does intersectionality itself work out when races and genders have so many possible manifestations? Claudine Gay benefitted from being black, an immigrant, and a woman. Her class status never was allowed into the equation of what she has called “her truth”? In the era after George Floyd, she said she felt unsafe on the Harvard campus. But compared to what? A Jewish student at Harvard after October 7 during Claudine Gay’s presidency? Was Claudine Gay safer in Harvard Yard or a white middle-class person—or any person—walking about at twilight in Compton? Another DEI result is that the more privileged, middle-class, and of mixed-race one is, strangely the more they are stridently racialist and victimized. Consider the case of Barack Obama or Nikole Hannah Jones. The collective disparagement of “whiteness” and the junk nouns that follow “white,” like privilege, rage, and supremacy, play out at Yale or Stanford or the HR department, but rarely in small towns of the San Joaquin Valley or rural Texas.
There are no such things as “micro-aggressions” among truck drivers of all races. There are no “safe spaces” in mines. There are no trigger warnings in nuclear plants—other than warnings that a mistake can radiate anyone of any race. In a shared foxhole one is not required “to check your privilege upon entrance”—given it is not a very privileged thing to be in a foxhole. DEI is a pastime, a psychodrama of the rich, privileged, paranoid, and phobic that seeks to infuse its neuroticisms into every facet of American life. Still, what usually starts as a typically insane academic lounge tic, so often in history insidiously absorbs the popular culture and mainstreams the recklessness.
Part Four – January 16, 2024
DEI is racist. After lying before Congress that she had to consider “context” and “free speech” before considering discipling anti-Jewish behavior and speech on her Harvard campus, and after being caught plagiarizing in some 60 percent of her meager scholarly output, Claudine Gay pulled out all the racist stops to save her job.
She enlisted Harvard, its attorneys, and 700 of its faculty to lie that her plagiarism was not really serious because—the plagiarized did not always complain; because the whistleblowers were anonymous in many cases; because the New York Post had no right to run the story; because Gay claimed she adhered to the highest standards in her scholarship; and because her critics were inordinately conservative.
Consider, it was supposedly anti-black to force her removal from the leftwing Harvard Corporation. Ok, but not so when Stanford forced white male president Marc Tessier-Lavigne to resign for far lesser scholarly misconduct? What about the University of Pennsylvania that coerced its white president Liz Magill to quit for ethically challenged testimony, similar to Gay’s but without any hint of scholarly plagiarism in Magill’s resume? Does DEI mean lifetime tenure on the rationale that once standards are no longer purely meritocratic in hiring, they must similarly remain nonmeritocratic for lifelong tenure?
Note how most of the current architects of the woke/DEI movement cut their teeth in their youth with overt racist diatribes and racial stereotyping—in far more academic and sophisticated forms than the old anti-Semitic blasts of Louis Farrakhan (“gutter religion”), Jesse Jackson (“That’s all Hymie wants to talk about is Israel; every time you go to Hymietown, that’s all they want to talk about”), Al Sharpton (“If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house”),Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s “personal pastor” (“Them Jews ain’t going to let him [Barak Obama] talk to me”), Malcolm X(“bloodsuckers”), or Rep. Ilhan Omar (“It’s all about the Benjamins baby”).
For example, in his younger days, Professor Ibram X. Kendi (aka Ibram Henry Rogers) wrote that European people had created AIDS to save their race (“white people were fending off racial extinction, using ‘psychological brainwashing’ and ‘the aids virus’”). Keep that in mind and his later career makes perfect sense.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, who constructed the 1619 myth, topped Kendi’s craziness, by once writing in her college days that, “The white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager and thief of the modern world…The crimes they committed were unnecessarily cruel and can only be described as acts of the devil.”
I guess the 1619 authority did not count Mao Zedong’s erasure of 70 million Chinese. Was Tamerlane who caused 15–20 million deaths a white male under DEI guidelines? How about Attila and Genghis Khan?
Or compare another DEI prophet, Ta-Nehisi Coates, who in sick fashion once said of the firemen and police who died as they went into the World Trade City to save the trapped and doomed, “They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could—with no justification—shatter my body.” Note the creepy/weepy cult of victimization embraced by multimillionaire comic book writer Coates, who somehow turns the deaths of thousands of innocents and those who tried to save them into all about himself (“Shatter my body”).
In the end, DEI will implode because of its many contradictions: it is racist to the core; it is illegal and violates court decisions and the Constitution; it destroys meritocracy; and it is utterly incoherent in adjudicating who and who not deserve racial preferences.
Someday soon, we will once again see the country return to a meritocracy and let the chips fall where they may—perhaps along the lines of the hyper-meritocratic NFL or NBA that apparently feels that racial and gender engineering would be antithetical to equality of opportunity regardless of race and ethnicity. Fans do not care much whether basketball, football, or baseball teams “look like America” or not.