Here Comes the New DEI, Same as the Old DEI

A number of Republican states have banned DEI, resulting in the termination of DEI schemes in higher education institutions. The NYT reports that “In 2023, more than 20 states considered or approved new laws taking aim at D.E.I”.

Much hard work by Republicans went into getting these DEI schemes banned, especially in raising public awareness about the sinister machinations behind friendly-sounding words like diversity and inclusion. Adopting beguiling labels for their schemes is a favorite commie strategy, and it works because it marches under the banner of values many people would support. It has taken a long-running campaign by Republicans to persuade the public that these virtue-signaling labels are nothing more than a smokescreen.

But as Republicans continue to rejoice about the collapsing DEI empire, few have noticed that the seeds of the next threat are already being sown: the announcements abolishing DEI have come together with ominous expressions of commitment to enforcing equality of opportunity: Fauci’s First Fr... McCarthy, Ken Buy New $19.95 (as of 10:00 UTC - Details)

“In keeping with State of Florida legislation, the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has been eliminated,” the school’s webpage says. “FIU remains committed to cultivating an environment of accessibility and equal opportunity, where all are welcomed to learn, earn, and thrive.”

What’s the problem, one might ask? After all, everyone supports equal opportunity and welcoming everyone to thrive. While many conservatives are against DEI, surely supporting “genuine” equal opportunities will work very well as long as it doesn’t turn into equity? Many conservatives naively hope that equality enforcement is a great idea in principle. As Lew Rockwell has observed:

It’s conservatives, not liberals, who are naive about the real meaning of anti-discrimination law. They say they love the Civil Rights Act, “Dr.” King, and the “ideal” of the color-blind society. They want to protect “individuals” from discrimination, but not “groups.” They like “equality of opportunity” but don’t like “equality of result.”

In his op-ed for the NYT Chris Rufo explained the reasons for abolishing DEI and then observed that promoting colorblind equality would be a good replacement for DEI:

“After abolishing D.E.I., legislators can adopt a policy of colorblind equality to help establish the equal treatment of individuals, regardless of race, sex or other characteristics.”

In abolishing DEI, the expressed aim is therefore to shift from equality of outcome (equity) to promoting colorblind equality. In Florida it was announced that equal opportunity initiatives and programs would continue after the end of DEI:

“Programs, compliance requirements, and equal opportunity initiatives protected by federal and state obligations pertaining to accessibility, civil rights compliance, and equal opportunity will transition to and continue within the Division of Human Resources, with operational support by the Department of Access, Compliance, and Equal Opportunity,” it says.”

Two problems remain that should alert supporters of liberty to be cautious and alert to the risk of DEI sneaking back in through “colorblind” schemes.

First, the assumption that the state ought to play a role in equalizing everyone’s opportunities still goes unchallenged. It is assumed that enforcing equality of opportunity is good, and that these lefty enforcement schemes only go wrong if they morph into enforcement of equal outcomes through quotas or affirmative action. To give the usual example, it is said that equality of opportunity means anyone is entitled to take a test, while equality of outcome means everyone is granted the same award after taking the test. Abolishing DEI therefore terminates the implementation of equal outcomes through “differential or preferential treatment” based on race or sex, while continuing to promote equal opportunities.

Many people overlook the greater threat posed by civil rights. In abolishing DEI, the reference to continuing with “civil rights compliance” is a reminder that the Civil Rights Act 1964 with its tyrannical anti-discrimination enforcement still reigns supreme. As Lew Rockwell has warned:

“You cannot abolish affirmative action and quotas and still enforce the Civil Rights Act. Racial preferences are bound up with anti-discrimination law—logically, politically, historically, and jurisprudentially.”

Second, the hegemony of the Civil Rights Act is entrenched in practice by the reality that in practice, officials spooked by the bad press surrounding DEI and CRT are increasingly careful in their use of words. If an equality scheme is not brazenly labelled “DEI” it is difficult to ascertain whether it is designed to promote opportunity or whether it is attempting surreptitiously to promote outcome.

The 10-Minute Wall Pil... Publishing, Golden Gra... Best Price: $12.99 Buy New $14.99 (as of 05:37 UTC - Details) In real cases the meaning of “equal opportunities” is in practice so broadly construed as to be indistinguishable from outcomes. In states where DEI is banned, DEI is typically defined as “any program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation and promotes differential or preferential treatment of individuals on the basis of such classification.” One strategy to work around that is by introducing similar schemes and defining them as support programs designed to help advance equal opportunities. For example “Black Out” theatre performances or internship opportunities which are reserved for blacks only are said to be necessary to “validate” black people which promotes their opportunity to get involved in theatre or industries where black people are underrepresented by making them aware of opportunities of which they were not previously aware. In a recent example from Wisconsin, a whites only racism class that encourages participants to explore their “privilege, whiteness and racism” was described as “meticulously crafted for white individuals committed to anti-racism work.” The school district said they are merely supporting white people in their anti-racism efforts which would give them an advantage in getting jobs in the anti-racist corporate world. As with the Black Out schemes, the organizers insist that it is open to anyone and is therefore not racially discriminatory: “the course is tailored to explore these topics in affinity spaces for white staff members, it is open to everyone.”

Further, in states where DEI is banned the personnel implementing the new “colorblind” equality schemes will be either the very same individuals let go from the DEI offices and invited to apply to other positions in the same institution, or individuals who subscribe to the same critical race theory interpretations of human rights and human dignity that now dominate most law schools. Thus the announcement that we should expect to see new offices replacing DEI with “human dignity” should not be treated as good news.

“Three senior UF officials said in the memo that despite the elimination of the diversity, equity and inclusion or DEI program, the school will continue what they called “our commitment to universal human dignity.”

As they embark on enforcing “universal human dignity” it remains to be seen whether the commissars of equality enforcement will abandon their old tricks. DEI is down, but it may not be out. To pull it out by its roots it is necessary to target the real source of this poison: the Civil Rights Act 1964.