Postmodernism

Live free or even harder DEI

Last week, I wrote about the need to defund the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) positions that stifle primary and higher education. Today’s sequel deals with the chilling institutional indoctrination manifesting itself in Arkansas higher education through the requirement that prospective faculty provide DEI compliance statements.

The compulsion is evident, for example, in a job listing from the University of Arkansas Journalism Department proclaiming that “applicants must submit” as part of their application “a diversity statement.” It’s not an anomaly.

The advertisement for a Chair in Modern British History, also at UA, states: “Applicants are requested to provide a CV, letter of interest, one-page statement on diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as the names of three references.”

That the overall scarcity of requirements nevertheless specifically invites a DEI declaration is frightening. No statement of teaching or research philosophy is even suggested. Who cares about those? Here is your DEI-approved curriculum and research program. I’m kidding, I’m not kidding.

An opening for a mechanical engineering chair asks for “a statement of diversity that includes their understanding, past and/or current experiences with people from a wide range of backgrounds, and plans to attract, teach, and mentor a diverse group of students.” Is this the new “bridge building” for engineers? Forgive my poetic license, since building bridges is civil engineering, not mechanical. But isn’t that just social engineering, anyway?

A “Statement of Applicant’s Contributions to a Diverse and Inclusive Higher Education Environment” is required for application to become an Assistant Professor of Environmental Archaeology. Frankly, I need a statement explaining what environmental archeology is.

As a preferred qualification, an Assistant Professorship in Cultural Anthropology lists “evidence of a commitment to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive milieu in research and teaching service.” (“Middle”, really?)

The requirement is “a statement describing your past, current, or anticipated future contributions to inclusive excellence in teaching, research, and service in anthropology.” After all that, if you’re nevertheless considering submitting a mildly critical – no less iconoclastic – response, read further to see that “an essential duty of the job…is the ability to create and maintain collegial and harmonious working relationships with the others”. How do you think a setback with the Loyalty Oath Keepers plays out under this standard? Who wrote this, Mao Zedong?

Biology position at Arkansas State University Jonesboro seeks “cover letter, resume, statement of experience and research plans, teaching philosophy, statement of commitment to increase diversity in the field of biology and contact details of at least three references with your application.”

Is this the new “biodiversity”? Maybe I should ask the environmental archaeologist.

But seriously, how does a teacher endowed with students by the school increase the diversity of biologists? Is this code for “you better pass enough minorities, regardless of your merit”?

A geography teacher in Little Rock must have a “commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in an educational environment,” as well as submit a diversity statement. It’s one of the less offensive examples, though crediting the language in such a way is roughly akin to characterizing someone as the most benign fascist. They’re all awful, aren’t they?

None of the offices in the system require these statements. They are creations of uncontrolled departments deep within the bowels of each campus. And they are fruitful in multiplying. A system manager told me: “Of the 352 positions currently open, declaration is required [by the department advertising the position] for 25 of them.”

While the government may require certain oaths from public employees – to survive the constitutional rally – they must relate to a clear and present danger to a clear government interest. These corporate compliance credos are the exact opposite. They themselves are the danger. As job postings are patent, these required declarations of devotion do not invite opposition from orthodoxy. Rather, these McCarthyist mandates aim to publicly disavow color blindness, equal opportunity, and merit, all once hallmarks of educational ethics.

What options are available to the applicant? Can we write that DEI is only a thin cover for Trotskyist tropes? Can you argue that “equity” is a weak euphemism for equality of outcome rather than opportunity? May I state that while I believe Black Lives Matter, I reject the leftist Black Lives Matter cabal? Can you dare to say that all lives matter? Is it permissible to espouse Martin Luther King’s iconic colorblind virtue embodied in his “dream that [his] four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”?

Oh sure, you are told that you have freedom of thought. Freedom of conclusion is quite another matter.

We already hear that “color blindness works to perpetuate racism,” as contemporary racial marketers proclaim. Yet, blind grading is still necessary when reviewing exams. Race is therefore essential in admissions and then somehow irrelevant after registration.

But wait, there’s more: uneven results in graduation and passing the bar have us once again having to take the judge’s blindfold off. Such an adept volte-face is worthy of the senatorial husband of the widow of fortune with 57 perfumes, who claims carbon neutrality and participates in the private jet.

Moreover, the thought-independent flowering of these obligatory mantras demonstrates that the academy is not interested in the one category of diversity that really matters in education: diversity of thought. If the candidate doesn’t reflexively genuflect in front of the DEI golden calf, then he (uh-oh, another foul) shouldn’t expect to conciliate the progressive pigment font.

Confused? Don’t worry, this will all make sense once you get the DEI-English Dictionary, no doubt available at public school bookstores along with the other pre-approved reading materials that have been purchased on campuses.

In this little red book, you will learn that “diversity,” for deacons in academia, means special dispensation, without merit, exclusively available to those in categories authorized by the left. So “yes” to the right for the “underrepresented” people of island nations cultivating cricket in equatorial waters, but “no” to giving weight to hiring those with conservative thinking underrepresented in the social sciences, including law; doubly so if they are white men.

The latter – falsely labeled as inherently privileged, underpigmented, ill-pigmented beneficiaries of structural racism, and personally responsible for exploiting the oppressed for millennia, regardless of whether an individual candidate, for example, grew up in a toilet dirt floor -no cabin in the Ozarks and is the first in his family to graduate from high school – has relinquished all rights to those characteristics of meritocracy described above, so command the regional governors who command the doors of the academy in this castle of perverted postmodern morality.

On the left, denying white privilege is the best proof of its omnipresence. So, if you acknowledge having white privilege, you should make amends. But if you don’t confess, then you have to make amends. Tails I win, tails you lose.

Don’t cry foul, though. If you do, you are “frail” – the frailty exclusive to those who are supposedly empowered. Wait, does that now qualify you for special treatment? Sorry, your hereditarily immutable characteristic cannot both serve as a scarlet letter and simultaneously gain housing. Redemption is not universal under these race-based rules. As Seinfeld’s Yev Kassem adamantly put it, “No soup for you!”

It’s your right to know.

Robert Steinbuch, a law professor at Bowen Law School, is a Fulbright scholar and author of The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of his employer.