On Feb. 16, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14091, titled “Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”
Biden’s sweeping order multiplies and muscles up government diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) diversity-crats — the diversity-industrial complex — and makes their power bases virtually permanent.
The order also bestows special status and benefits on favored groups, called “underserved communities,” while excluding everyone else. Why now?
Perhaps the administration is anticipating adverse Supreme Court decisions, expected in June, in two cases challenging racial preferences at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (Harvard/UNC).
As reported previously, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) is representing higher-scoring Asian and white students who sued the schools for discriminatory admission policies.
The Department of Defense is not a party to the litigation, but in oral arguments last October, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar admitted that the military employs discriminatory policies to achieve racial “diversity” at the military service academies and in ROTC (contract) programs. Prelogar further claimed without evidence that discriminatory policies to achieve demographic diversity are essential for national security.
The Supreme Court’s decision is unknown, but if the justices decide racial discrimination in higher education is unconstitutional, the administrators will try to find loopholes and ambiguities that distinguish their own discriminatory practices from those of the Harvard/UNC defendants.
Now comes this new Executive Order 14091. As stated in this Center for Military Readiness policy analysis, with a stroke of his pen Biden established a powerful DEI bureaucracy designed to continue racial discrimination, no matter what the Supreme Court says.
Biden’s Bigger Government
The scope of the order is limitless. It establishes equity action teams in every federal government department and agency, directing them to implement an “ambitious, whole-of-government approach to racial equity.”
Color-conscious decisions will govern programs related to everything from climate change and artificial intelligence algorithms to community wealth-building and transgender interventions for vulnerable children and adults.
All DEI teams will report to a White House Steering Committee headed by diversity doyenne Susan Rice. The order also expands an existing corps of chief diversity officers (CDOs) who review all promotions to ensure support for the DEI agenda.
The order defines “underserved communities” with a paragraph-long list that includes black, Latino, indigenous, Native American, and LGBT people, rural and U.S. territory residents, persons with disabilities, and many others. Conspicuously missing from the list of favored groups are healthy white males who are young or middle age, financially secure, Christian, and English-language proficient.
“Equity” is not the same as “equality.” Deliberate discrimination against non-minorities, in pursuit of ideological goals, squarely fits the definition of woke-ism: leftist policies taken to extremes with coerced compliance, even if it hurts the institution.
Military Cultural Values Under Attack
Biden’s power grab will affect all Americans, but the consequences of outcome-based “equity” mandates that treat some people as “more equal” than others will be most severe in our military.
House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee Chairman James Banks has expressed concern about the Pentagon’s declining respect for meritocratic values. And combat veterans Rep. Mike Waltz and retired Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady have warned that policies focusing on skin color or other inconsequential characteristics are threatening essential elements of military culture: color-blindness, selflessness, and mutual trust.
Equity mandates that elevate percentage-based “metrics” (quotas) over meritocracy weaken mutual trust, cohesion, and the selfless warrior ethic that unites and inspires troops in battle.
The Need for Congress to Intervene
Congress has the power of the purse and the constitutional authority to make sound policies for the military. Members should start by defunding the diversity-industrial complex, which has become something of a racket.
Following Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s mandatory anti-extremism stand-downs in 2021, an investigation found fewer than 100 cases of “extremism” in the ranks. A recent RAND study searched for offensive speech in Air Force social media posts but found almost none.
The Daily Caller reported that the Air Force is hiring DEI officers at salary rates ranging from $82,000 to $183,500 per year, even though numerous studies have questioned the efficacy of “anti-bias” training.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, are re-submitting legislation to abolish Pentagon DEI advisers and chief diversity officers, but Congress also needs to protect meritocracy in the military, which is under attack.
Non-discrimination policies that recognize merit often create diversity, but the constantly repeated mantra of Pentagon leaders, “Diversity is a strategic imperative,” undermines meritocracy as a cultural value.
Executive Order 14091 defines “equity” as “the consistent and systematic treatment of all individuals in a fair, just, and impartial manner, including individuals who belong to communities that often have been denied such treatment.”
The phrase “all individuals” is misleading because the clear intent of the order, from title to glossary, is to elevate ideology and group rights above merit and individual rights. Wiggle words in the definition of “equity” may have been inserted to inoculate the order against charges that it violates principles of equal protection and is therefore unconstitutional.
The order also claims its mandates are “permitted by law” or “consistent with applicable law.” But there is a catch. The government wants to continue discriminating.
When individuals file lawsuits challenging discrimination, the government will claim that the absence of any law forbidding such practices authorizes continued color-conscious decisions.
DEI vs. Meritocracy
The tenor and context of the entire DEI program aim to achieve “racial equity” for favored “underserved communities.” This belies any hope of equal treatment for excluded non-minority individuals or sound priorities that put military necessity first.
Absent congressional action, meritocratic values — essential elements of military culture — could be lost in a single generation.
Members of Congress should seek bipartisan support for efforts to defund and eliminate DEI power bases, mandates, and practices, while codifying principles of meritocracy and non-discrimination in military personnel policies. A successful two-pronged approach could lead to more positive actions that could break the back of the diversity-industrial complex.