by J. Kennerly Davis
Martin Brown, a senior aide to Governor Glenn Youngkin, created quite a stir when he told an audience at the Virginia Military Institute that “DEI is dead.” Democrats in politics and the media jumped on the remark, and the Governor’s support of Brown, to assert that the Youngkin administration is hostile to policies and programs that foster diversity, equity, and inclusion. The partisan criticism is baseless. Martin Brown is correct. For Virginia to effectively foster diversity, equity, and inclusion, DEI must die.
Every system of government is based upon an idea, a fundamental concept for its organization and operation, a proposition. Most times, the idea has been small, shabby, uninspiring, and authoritarian. Ultimate authority has been held by a ruling class. The rights of individuals have been understood to be nothing more than malleable artifacts, with their scope and substance and tenure entirely dependent upon the changeable determinations and dispensations of the ruling class.
But sometimes, the idea for a system of government is a grand one, exceptional, inspiring, revolutionary. The idea of America is a grand idea: the revolutionary proposition that all persons are created equal, endowed by their Creator with inherent dignity and unalienable rights; the revolutionary proposition that the only rightful purpose of government, the legitimizing purpose, is to recognize, respect, and protect the shared sacred humanity, inherent dignity, and natural rights of the people; the revolutionary proposition that the people shall rule, and each shall be able to think and speak and worship and associate freely; the revolutionary proposition that a richly diverse people can form a strongly united nation, e pluribus unum. That is a grand idea!
For more than a hundred years, the regressive authoritarians who wrongly style themselves “progressive” have worked to undermine the grand idea of America and replace it with their own very small idea: the counterrevolutionary proposition that an elitist ruling class of credentialed technocrats, infallible “experts,” should exercise unrestrained administrative power to define the rights, allocate the resources, and direct the affairs of the supposedly unenlightened masses under their paternalistic supervision.
Behind the façade supported by the progressive myth of the infallible expert technocrat lies a vast army of second-rate policy makers and bumbling bureaucrats who have inflicted on the nation one policy disaster after another: lost wars, financial crises, crime-ridden cities, failing schools, crony-corrupted regulatory schemes, and unsustainable benefit programs.
The progressive concept of government could never displace the grand idea of America as a result of any fair and honest consideration of the alternatives. That is precisely why progressives work so hard to erase our understanding of America’s founding principles. That is why they wage their frenzied campaign to silence and discredit anyone who questions any of their positions or any part of their agenda. And that is why they routinely use misleading terminology reminiscent of Orwellian Newspeak to conceal the true nature of their pernicious policies.
The progressives’ manipulative inversion of customary meaning has played a central role in their aggressive moves to advance the toxic combination of policies so deceptively characterized as programs intended to promote diversity, equity, and Inclusion, or “DEI.” In fact, DEI programs pose a grave threat to every value they claim to promote.
The intolerant functionaries who define and drive DEI programs use Maoist-style struggle sessions to denounce and humiliate individuals who have dared to dissent from radical leftist orthodoxies, and to intimidate those who might think to dissent. They unlawfully compel compliant speech and extract publicly sworn loyalty oaths to enforce uniformity of opinion and restrict the free exchange of ideas.
DEI functionaries condemn meritocracy and equal protection under the law to justify the pursuit of “equity,” that is, the discriminatory leveling distribution of status and benefits to politically favored constituencies at the expense of others not so favored. But by validating the concept of identity-based discrimination and perpetuating the bigotry of low expectations, DEI administrators deny to those they claim to care about the only certain source of fairness and opportunity for personal fulfillment – equal meritocratic opportunity based on equal protection under the law.
DEI functionaries use mob-backed cancellation tactics to suppress free speech by excluding from the public conversation those who dissent from radical leftist orthodoxies. And they use unlawful discriminatory employment practices to enforce uniformity of opinion by excluding dissenters from organizations where DEI programs define the culture.
Behind all the Newspeak camouflage, DEI is nothing more than a noxious combination of policies that entrench indefensible Discrimination, Exclusion, and Inequality. DEI has no place in a country founded on the principles and institutions embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Martin Brown and Governor Youngkin are correct. DEI must die.
J. Kennerly Davis is a former Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia.