The bankruptcy of the Left’s diversity, equity, and inclusion ideology, or DEI, was put on full display this week in the House of Representatives. Republicans not only showed rare pluck in confronting this noxious strategy to use race as a pretext to transform America, but they did it in a way that exposed the strategy’s empty premises.
The scene was a hearing held Tuesday by the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s oversight subcommittee, and the witness was the State Department’s first chief of DEI, Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley.
When Abercrombie-Winstanley went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last July, that committee rolled out the red carpet. Only Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, dared question the ideology she represents, calling equity “brazen discrimination.”
Cruz also revealed an email from a State Department official observing that, under Abrecrombie-Winstanley, the State Department was not hiring straight, white, Christian men. The rest of the Senate committee, however, took her definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion at face value.
Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., even read from a dictionary: “Equity is defined as the quality of being fair and impartial.”
Nobody pointed out that, if that traditional definition still held, there would be a strong national consensus for it. There isn’t, though, because most Americans know that equity currently means that government must treat Americans differently because of their race.
But there was no appeasement of DEI this week. As the Republicans on the House subcommittee made clear once again, the country seems to be turning against it and turning hard.
The Republican members were polite, but homed in on questions that should engage us all: Why is there a need for DEI in the first place? Doesn’t hiring by race violate our ideals and even our laws?
The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., started on the right note when he opened the hearing by saying:
What we are discussing is the budget for the office that is essentially the filter for all hiring and retention at the State Department … This office has a clever name that uses strong emotional words—diversity, equity, inclusion—but functionally does the opposite of what America has always stood for, which is very simply the best man, the best woman for the job.
Mast gave Abercrombie-Winstanley a list of traits other than race on which to base hiring: “Hard work, loyalty to America, patience, willingness to sacrifice, a sense of duty, consistency, honor, discipline, confidence.”
Then, in what became an exchange that was both personal and went right to the crux of the matter, Mast suddenly asked Abercrombie-Winstanley: “Can you tell me—am I white?”
Abercrombie-Winstanley, who is black, seemed taken aback, paused, and offered demurely: “I would allow you to tell me how you characterize yourself.”
“That’s exactly right. I would have to tell you, not just how I characterize myself, but what I am. But I’m asking, do you know if I’m white?” insisted Mast again.
“I do not know,” responded Abercrombie-Winstanley.
“Half black?” pressed Mast.
“I do not know,” she responded again.
“Asian Islander? Brown? Latino?”
“I do not know,” she protested again.
“You can’t know without asking. … And we can’t ask what somebody is.”
“Shouldn’t matter that I’m half Mexican,” intoned Mast, who happens to be Tixomena Trujillo’s son—an ancestry that should be meaningless to anyone in charge of hiring or promotion.
“It shouldn’t matter whether I’m able-bodied, or ambulatory or not ambulatory,” added Mast, who is also a former Army sergeant who lost both legs serving his country in Afghanistan.
That exchange somehow managed to capture the zeitgeist of the age. To the DEI-obsessed, everyone who’s half what they may consider nonwhite (or any portion, even one-eighth) is nonwhite, and therefore in need of protection as a victim of our “systems of oppression.”
But at that moment you could sense the wheels turning: “Wait, so Mast is not an oppressor? He’s a member of a victim group? But just a second ago he was an oppressor …”
The entire DEI apparatus was imploding as its ludicrous foundations gave way.
The Democrats on the subcommittee, apparently aghast that DEI’s run as a cow not to be gored is coming to a close, were apoplectic.
The ranking member, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., was so incensed he later put out a statement bemoaning that “extremist Republicans continue to attack the [State Department’s] Office of Diversity and Inclusion and knowingly misrepresent its work.”
The subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., meanwhile, was so angry that he decided to trash remarks he had prepared for the hearing, saying he was “so appalled by the chairman’s opening remarks that I need to address it.”
Except Crow didn’t depart from tired talking points.
“Those who want to talk about merit also don’t want to talk about the history of this country,” he said, a charge without a shred of evidence. What people don’t want is obsessive racialism becoming our reigning ideology.
Crow was much closer to the truth when he said the country needs a “conversation about how to realize our full potential.”
Except there is no sign that the Left wants a civil debate that includes not just history, but also present dysfunctions such as the collapse of the family—an institution whose existence is correlated strongly to life outcomes—or our appalling public schools.
Until that happens, until we take that seriously, no amount of quick fixes and illegal quotas will fix anything at the State Department, or any other federal agency.
This commentary first appeared in the Washington Examiner
Editor’s note: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who appointed Abercrombie-Winstanley in 2021 as the State Department’s first diversty and inclusion officer, on June 6 announced the former ambassador’s departure after 30 years with the department. No reason was given.
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