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The State Department Should Dump DEI

Newsweek – As diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) appears to be on the wane nationwide, the divisive left-wing ideology is alive and well in the realm of American diplomacy. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the appointment of Zakiya Carr Johnson as the State Department’s chief diversity and inclusion officer (CDIO). Next Monday, Johnson will replace Acting CDIO Constance Mayer, who has led the office since last July in the absence of a permanent director.

Previously, Johnson was senior adviser and director of the State Department’s Race, Ethnicity, and Social Inclusion Unit and co-chair for the White House Inter-Agency Committee on Gender-Based Violence Monitoring and Evaluation.  Alongside those lofty-sounding government positions, she founded an Atlanta-based DEI consulting firm that claims to invest “in the untapped talent of historically marginalized communities, youth and women in the Americas” and was the cofounder and director of Black Women Disrupt. Blinken believes her addition will make the State Department “stronger, smarter, and more innovative” despite a video statement now circulating on social media in which Johnson advocates “dismantling traditional structures,” a category that could arguably include the State Department itself.

Blinken created the State Department’s Diversity and Inclusion Office in February 2021 in an effort to take “diversity and inclusion work already underway at the State Department to the next level.” A month earlier, he had overseen the restoration of mandatory diversity training, in a reversal of President Donald Trump‘s September 2020 executive order banning training based on critical race theory (CRT) in all divisions of the federal government. The CDIO is a high-level position that reports directly to the Secretary of State and has the power to “hold senior leadership accountable” for implementing DEI across the entire department.

Leading proponents of CRT spread the message that white people are inherently racist, that “structural racism” infuses the United States and virtually all of its institutions, and that anti-white discrimination is the solution for past and present discrimination against non-whites. Many, including Johnson, based on her public statements, also believe “patriarchy” and “systemic misogyny” are responsible for social injustice on a mass scale.

Nevertheless, Blinken, a white male, says Johnson will offer “international expertise and a fresh perspective on how we build a workforce that reflects America.” Two days before appointing her, on Easter Sunday, Blinken observed Transgender Day of Visibility by posting on X, “We continue to fight for a world in which trans people can live safely and openly as themselves.”

Blinken’s priorities are increasingly out of step with the rest of the country. Even as DEI becomes more entrenched in the State Department, more than 30 state governments are currently weighing over 100 pieces of legislation to outlaw or defund DEI structures in public institutions, while some have already banned it. In March, the House of Representatives voted to abolish its Office of Diversity and Inclusion. In June 2023, the Supreme Court ruled that race cannot be considered in higher education admissions, a position supported by roughly 7 in 10 Americans. Since then, the pro-DEI presidents of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania were forced from office amid major concerns about their leadership and integrity.

Last month, a comprehensive report released by Econ Journal Watch revealed that frequently cited McKinsey studies purportedly correlating DEI initiatives with business profitability were unreliable. Even before that, many corporations began rolling back their DEI bureaucracies, with some suffering multi-billion-dollar losses as the direct result of diversity-inflected advertising campaigns. Abroad, the American elite’s obsession with DEI and CRT is poorly understood, widely rejected, or simply ridiculed by allies and adversaries alike. And unlike compliant State Department employees, Iranian mullahs, Russian militarists, and Chinese functionaries more schooled in Machiavelli than microaggressions can hardly be sent to sensitivity training for indoctrination into DEI ideology.

Senior diplomats are also skeptical. “What they are doing now is not really diversity at all but conformity,” says Alberto Fernandez, a 32-year State Department veteran and retired ambassador who deplores “the imposition of a divisive and intolerant ideology, with a DEI commissar at the head.”

For the sake of America’s credibility in the world, Congress and/or the next administration should move expeditiously to root DEI out of our foreign policy and recruit and promote diplomats solely on the basis of knowledge, talent, and skill.

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