Sloan: The DEI facade is showing cracks

By Kelly Sloan | Special Contributor, The Rocky Mountain Voice

Last week, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s board of trustees did what only a short time ago would have been considered an unthinkable act of social regression: they voted, unanimously, to not only cut the $2.3 million funding of the institution’s DEI program, but to reroute that money into public safety – yes, meaning campus police. 

It is but one example of the slow, but steady retreat from the madness of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) programs that have metastasized throughout our culture in the wake of the civil unrest stemming from the killing of George Floyd in 2020.

The innocuous-sounding trifecta – who could argue against those values in a pluralistic society? – disguised a far more pernicious and aggressive agenda which viewed concepts such as equal opportunity and merit-based advancements as dog-whistles for systemic racism. 

DEI, in practice, serves as more than simply another trendy social diversion, but more pointedly as a form of ideological coercion; its implicit intent is the exaction of cosmic retribution on civil society for past sins, both very real ones and imaginary. The provenance of the programs dates to well before 2020, but the convulsions of that summer catalyzed the movement. Its premise was ideological in the classic sense – that society, as we know, and experience is an oppressive construct wherein every facet is designed specifically for the maintenance of that oppression.

This destructive worldview, which has informed the multitude of “ism’s” that have done so much damage in the last hundred or so years, does not countenance mere reform; its only goal is liberation, and nothing short of a complete overhaul of the entire existing social structure is adequate to bring about the desired outcome. 

It is under this aegis that even the most superficially benign DEI programs were instituted, injected into virtually every facet of society. Corporations, sports, the media, obviously the government, and especially higher education, all gave high, and well-funded, place to DEI directors. Their transformational mission was largely unquestioned, and they were accordingly anointed with a procrustean authoritarianism. For a time it appeared as though the revolution was well in hand. 

So what happened? Several things, really, beginning with reality. The imposition of unremittingly racialist criteria as the exclusive factor in hiring and placement proved inimical to the best interests of American institutions that sought to embrace the diktats. The Supreme Court quickly agreed that exclusive consideration of accidents of birth, such as race, were not harmonious with the principles expressed in the Constitution and struck down affirmative action laws governing public universities. 

Soon the corporate world discovered that the vast sums they were expending on DEI were not delivering any decipherable return and began paring back the new departments. DEI-related job postings soon declined rapidly.

In several states, laws prohibiting the type of official discriminatory practices dictated by DEI adherents were passed, causing CEO’s around the country to further question their commitment to activist appeasement, which now presented the risk of legal, not just moral, transgression. 

But the final straw, for the perennially wrought universities, may well be the proliferation of the nihilistic chaos that has erupted on several campuses as pro-Hamas protestors occupy grounds and buildings, terrorize Jewish students, and generally make asses of themselves. All of the time, money, and effort directed to DEI has done nothing to mollify these cretins, and many of these institutions are beginning to realize that those resources would be better spent on the very things that the DEI effort attempted to divest from – like campus police – simply to ensure that those institutions can continue to function.

What happened at Chapel Hill could start being replicated elsewhere, as universities, whatever their ideological inclination, face up to the fact that they have a job to do, and cannot do it whilst under siege. Especially if they are confronted with municipal police departments, like those in Washington D.C. and Chicago, who refuse, for whatever reason, to intercede. 

The cataclysmic marriage of ignorance with what Herbert Agar characterized nearly a century ago in his book A Time for Greatness as the “anarchic passion to smash and delete the old institutions” serves to concentrate the mind and refocus one’s priorities, especially if one is the target of that anarchic passion. The move away from “Diversity Statements” and other Orwellian precepts imposed by the DEI Inquisition is overdue, and will not happen with the lightning-bolt rapidity of its onset. But every step taken in that direction strikes a blow for individual freedom and human dignity, and should be duly welcomed.

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in commentary pieces are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the management of the Rocky Mountain Voice, but even so we support the constitutional right of the author to express those opinions.