The accelerated plans to put DEI at the center of government mandates undermine the goal of equality and give a boost to woke antisemitism.
You may not have noticed it, but last week the federal government announced further plans to racialize America and to further enshrine toxic woke ideology as the guiding principle for its funding and hiring. Though cloaked in the rhetoric of civil rights and concerns about racism, the Biden administration’s doubling down on efforts to put the DEI—diversity, equity and inclusion—mantra in place for every Washington department and agency is dooming any hope of working towards a society whose ethical watchword is equality.
The announcement was done as part of a Black History Month commemoration and said the point was to ensure “equitable outcomes” for all Americans. Biden began this process on his first day in office when he signed executive orders mandating that every government office put in place a DEI plan. He followed up with other orders last April and now this year that pushed the agenda further. The newest move means that agencies must now have “equity teams” that will act as watchdogs over everything the government does. His Domestic Policy Council director Susan Rice, a veteran of Barack Obama’s anti-Israel foreign-policy team will supervise these teams.
That may sound like an anodyne effort to prevent prejudice or bias, but the adoption of equity as the goal is the opposite of what many Americans think it is. In practice, the adoption of the woke DEI catechism as the new civil religion essentially replaces equality as our national goal. The new goal of equity means that Biden has adopted the mindset of intersectional and critical race theory (CRT) ideologues who believe that equality is no longer the value to which Americans must aspire.
The equity approach regards equality and a color-blind society—where, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said his children would be “judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin”—as neither attainable nor even desirable. In its place is a new racialized idea in which race, ethnicity, and especially, skin color is the single defining characteristic of Americans by which they should not only be judged but which will also determine how the government deals with them.
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The result of Biden’s newest orders will be thinly disguised quotas when it comes to hiring and the divvying up of the vast resources of the federal budget according to terms of racial classifications. As law professor David Bernstein wrote in his recent new book Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America, the government’s willingness to label people in this way has its origins in the worst excesses of the racist Jim Crow era of segregation. The irony is that in our era, it is those who claim to be fighting against racism that have fully embraced the racist ideas of segregationists, who believed that defining people by their skin color was paramount.
The DEI agenda that Biden has embraced is inextricably linked with the rise of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, as well as the way critical race theory, and the toxic ideas about “white privilege” and “white fragility” are linked to it. It is part of a general assault on both history and the traditional American values of equality under the law, demonstrated by the growing influence of The New York Times’ “1619 Project.”
Having come into vogue more than a half-century after the triumph of the civil-rights movement and at a time when racism was less of a factor in American society than at any point in history, the CRT agenda is essentially reversing the progress towards racial harmony made since the 1960s. Fallacies about “structural racism” and white privilege have helped convince many to believe in the myth that America is more racist than ever when the opposite is the case. As such, it is making the United States a far more racially divisive place than it was only a few years ago.
While most mainstream Jewish legacy groups like the Anti-Defamation League are buying into the destructive vision of CRT and the BLM, what they fail to understand is that the intersectional frame of reference that guides the equity agenda classifies Jews as possessors of white privilege. It further denotes Israel as a “white” state that oppresses people of color, even though this is the opposite of the truth about a conflict with Palestinians that is national and religious but not racial. Add to that the fact that much of Israel’s population is made up of Jews of color from the Mideast and beyond.
Far from promoting equality, Biden’s equity policies are inherently racist and grant a permission slip for antisemitism.
It bears remembering that President Joe Biden won the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination because he was the only plausible alternative at the time to the surging candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). His party united around his candidacy in order to prevent the Democrats from nominating a radical Socialist—a development that most observers thought would guarantee President Donald Trump’s re-election. Biden went on to win the general election by largely staying out of sight during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and promising to be the moderate who would return the nation to “normalcy” after the upheavals of the Trump presidency.
And while the idea that the 80-year-old Biden is a figure who embodies the moderate Democratic Party that governed successfully in the last decade of the 20th century remains the centerpiece of efforts to re-elect him, the truth about his administration tells a different story. Biden’s predilection for extreme rhetoric—calling Republicans “semi-fascists” or saying that they will put black people “back in chains”—has always undermined talk of his supposed moderation. But rather than govern as a moderate, his administration has been, from his first day in office, in thrall to the Democrats’ left-wing intersectional faction.
That has been illustrated over and over again by policy decisions that essentially gave the country exactly what it might have expected from the Socialist Sanders. That was manifested by Biden’s abandonment of the country’s southern border to the hijacking of legislation that was supposed to address the country’s collapsing infrastructure (the 2021 “Build Back Better Act”) or an economy racked by inflation (the 2022 “Inflation Reduction Act”). Instead, both moves poured funding into the Democrats’ pet climate-change projects while doing far less to deal with infrastructure or the faltering economy.
Biden’s effective open borders policies and his efforts to redirect the federal budget in a manner that is essentially putting into effect a great deal of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) “Green New Deal” plan is proof enough that he has fallen under the influence of his party’s progressive caucus.
Yet the most important evidence of how far Biden has tilted to the left while in the White House is his embrace of DEI, and in particular, the equity agenda. Nothing he could do in office is capable of inflicting more long-term harm on American society or doing more to marginalize a Jewish community currently dealing with a worrying uptick in antisemitism.
Antisemitism can be found on the right as well as the left, besides the African-American and Muslim sectors of the population. But his “equity teams” are the thin edge of the wedge of a woke racist takeover of American institutions. That’s why it is incumbent on those who purport to speak for Jewish groups to realize that Biden’s embrace of the ideas of his party’s radicals isn’t merely a matter of political tactic aimed at shoring up his base. It’s a direct threat to the societal values that are the foundation of true liberalism and individual rights that have made America a place where Jews have found a home.
Throughout the corporate world, in addition to academia and the arts, woke commissars have been put in place to act as inquisitors ensuring adherence to the DEI catechism. Now, Rice will do the same in Washington. And that is certainly bad news for those who care about equality, racial harmony and antisemitism.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.