DEI: The Spawn of the Cancer of Identity Politics
Updated: Mar 29
Before any discussion of DEI, especially for those of us unnecessarily and wrongly accused of misogyny or racism or phobias, there must be a disclaimer. Here’s mine:
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as an abstract concept is noble and as a workable construct is fuzzy and deeply flawed. Equal access to anything is a moral imperative and a legal requirement. Inclusion itself is a necessary and laudatory premise in every respect, from academe to ditch-digging and all points in between. I acknowledge and condemn past (long and short history) good old boy networks. Diversity, “E Pluribus Unum,” is part of our proud historical fabric.
Everyone agrees that gender, race, and personal inclinations should never prevent anyone from the opportunity to participate, within reason. It follows that those identity elements are not qualifications, either.
As to Stanford Law School, arguably the most prestigious in the nation, and the public humiliation foisted on a Circuit judge invited by the school to speak to the Federalist Society, a club for constitutional conservatives... Thank you for making my point, associate dean of DEI, Tirien Steinbach.
The incident, tawdry and planned, is well known at this point. The whole mess allegedly stemmed from the improper use of pronouns, if you can believe it. The world knows Steinbach delivered rambling incoherent remarks at a campus sanctioned meeting that she was not scheduled to participate in. See it on YouTube if you have not already. It is cringeworthy.
Steinbach’s ineptitude oozes through her pores. She has been muzzled, to a degree, as the story continues to unfold, complete with outside actors and surreptitious motives. Her superiors have apologized to the maligned judge, publicly, and Steinbach was suspended from her job as associate dean of DEI at the best law school in the country.
She should be fired, but we’ll see. Steinbach is a lawyer herself, which proves my dictum that just because someone passes a bar exam, it doesn’t make then very smart or morally beyond reproach. This applies equally to professors, doctors, you name it.
DEI is, essentially, embedding political officers in every facet of America, political officers of being politically correct, and stating the undebatable and incoherent party line, pronouns and all.
The former Soviet Union had political officers embedded everywhere: the unions, the farms, the manufacturing, and whatever remained of political institutions as independent bodies. If you dissented you were cast out, ostracized, and in numerous cases imprisoned or put to death.
The Soviet Union failed for many reasons, but an underrated one was the requirement of political yes-men at all levels. It rewarded incompetence and created a state of paranoia. DEI is now, like the old Soviet state, selective in the vengeance business within its own pillars of society.
Look at Russian military ineptitude in the Ukraine. On paper and in many halls of big thinkers Russia’s military should have run through Ukraine like a hot knife through butter. But it didn’t. Decades of sycophantic general officers with no real military competence who spoke the party line helped perpetuate the politics of restricted speech and closeted opinion.
Russia’s political class created failure by requiring its own form of DEI. Agree and thrive. Disagree and die. The core resentment of those marginalized stayed dormant and has disgorged itself a generation later in the acts of an overwhelmed military and an impotent Putin lashing out in a mad stampede for relevance.
If DEI, and its officers in academe and business continue to press divisions in race, sex, and other persuasions of identity, the key fabric of America – the press, schools, the military – will succumb to mediocrity and not merit.
Ask yourself: would you rather have your mother’s surgeon come from a diverse school or just be the best at his or her craft?
When identity and the ideology that worships it becomes more important than the work product itself disaster is not too far behind.
As far as the college campus goes, I have a humble suggestion: Have each attendee at a “controversial” event put up a $100 “behavior bond” returnable upon respectful attendance. Have the institution set criteria, complete with audience facing cameras to improve accountability.
I think DEI will die a slow painful death starting with all those people hired. Stanford has about 16,000 undergrad and graduate students, over 15,000 administrative people, and over 160 DEI personnel, with a faculty of about 2,300. Something seems amiss. I am sure Stanford is not an outlier among universities with these ratios, and I am equally certain that all the DEI people have preferred pronouns after their names.
Protesting loudly does not counter truth. Respecting other opinions through silence always works, as does leaving a lecture. We can make our own judgments and associate with reasonable people at our own discretion.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t be judgmental. Color me as non-combative, non-crazy, liberal in thought and conservative on most fiscal, governmental, and social issues. I do think that people who do the pronoun thing are cowed into it to conform to a weird orthodoxy to maintain their position, or they are just too far gone to make their own good judgments about… anything.
Another suggestion for businesses and especially academe, if it can get by some thinking that capitalism is an evil white supremacy construct.
Equity has many definitions, pretzeled and vague. I like the classic definition, that equity equals assets minus liabilities. That is the suggestion. If a DEI department wants to truly grow equity in individuals, grow the asset, first, faster than the liabilities.
Let’s use an economically disadvantaged college age male (use any other identity you want to complicate things, but this is ultimately about personal economics, not necessarily money; value, and values).
For that person to achieve greater equity the obvious call to action is investing in his assets and formal education. Thoughts also run to real training and experience, like apprenticeships in the trades, and the arts, which requires much practice even for the truly gifted.
The initial investment in the personal asset must come from him and him alone. He must decide to invest in books instead of tattoos. We can help through the community, church, school, and, yes, businesses can invest in his assets.
Whether God-given or personally developed, nurturing that young person’s assets, or skill, or hunger and ambition, is the predicate of an education.
The liabilities, then, must be decreased. Personal good habits and judgment are fairly plain, but this is where I believe DEI can be of more help. Some liabilities are external and not caused by youth, but by environment, or lack of opportunity, or a bad school system that teaches nation-hating instead of algebra, or identity tribalism over Shakespeare. Get thee to a church and hear the Good News.
Develop and grow and save the assets, then decrease or eliminate or avoid the liabilities. That will increase the real equity – the individual kind that can’t be taken away.
The more we try to be slaves to DEI, or woke, or whatever, the greater the chance for failure. It may not be existential for our nation, but it will cost much in the lives of those we love. Many innocent people and vocal dissenters of DEI orthodoxy may also be killed rhetorically, financially, and reputationally.
Our US military is the greatest in the world, perhaps in all history. It is strong because of a proven track record, political resolve (when it counts), very expensive big bombs, and the capacity to mobilize for war, quickly if necessary. But the nature of DEI in our military has created commanders who put identity over competence. Generals not at war do not think long term except for themselves. They make millions through political and business connections because they talk a game that is politically popular among the Beltway crowd.
The egregious and sloppily handled exit from Afghanistan was not a political failure. Our vaunted military leaders failed to execute a predictable and controllable situation. Look no further than the Ukraine failure by Russian field commanders. The USA is already there.
Maybe it hasn’t come home to roost yet. But it will.
US military recruitment is so poor that standards of excellence used for decades are being altered. It is not the teen who is less worthy. The military that puts individual identity ahead of sacrifice and subordination to a grand mission will never attract the best person who seeks a higher purpose.
The cancer of identity politics has spawned DEI nonsense, and the well-intentioned are the first to get the axe.
There is no integrity without accountability. Start with roque DEI deans or departments who choose to showcase their confused emotions instead of their commitment to the institution they represent.