Everywhere you look, there is a growing backlash against diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs that implement racist, sexist, and exclusionary policies masquerading as solutions to those very problems. A cultural revolution that divides society into immutable victim and oppressor classes, inflames resentments and suspicions, facilitates anonymous denunciations, promotes segregation, ostracizes critics, aggravates mental illness, throws due process to the wind, and silences any attempt to analyze the actual effect of such policies will inevitably go too far. The most recent crime/tragedy perpetrated by a school shooter driven mad by trans ideology, and the woke world’s inability to rationally process it, demonstrates that we have reached that turning point.
Welcome to the counterrevolution.
Poll after poll shows that DEI policies are destroying what they supposedly aspire to create—a shared sense of community and belonging. This not a bug, but a fundamental feature that has fueled DEI’s spectacular growth, an industry forecast to reach $17 billion in revenue by 2027. It accomplished this by activating the syndrome that many failed policies leverage to ride to ever greater disasters: if a social program isn’t working, empowered advocates demand that we do more. As a result, an enormous administrative class dedicated to self-aggrandizement has commandeered the heart and soul of our colleges and universities, elevating the most extreme voices while terrorizing students and faculty into silence.
Restoring sanity to our campuses, and thence to society, is an urgent imperative. Yet a heavy-handed frontal assault on DEI is unlikely to succeed outside of taxpayer-funded institutions in red states, whose politicians have the fortitude to withstand media misrepresentation and accusations of censorship, hypocrisy, and academic oppression. Broad attacks from outsiders only serve to increase the solidarity of what, at root, is a faith-based, multi-confessional cartel. This is especially true at private colleges and universities, particularly in blue states and at the elite universities where the DEI movement first gained traction.
All Jacobin revolutions—built on self-contradictory principles propelled by fanatics who recognize no limiting principles—end up eating their own. The most effective way to fight the DEI Leviathan is to accelerate a process of disintegration that has already begun.
Developing a sound strategy begins with the recognition that not all DEI bureaucrats, advocates, and administrators are alike. Yes, there are plenty of true believers in critical race theory who have made common cause with fourth-wave feminists, postmodern ideologues, Marxist fellow travelers, gay crusaders, transgender zealots, and intersectional activists. But the DEI industrial complex also includes well-meaning, old-school liberals, mild-mannered bandwagoners, browbeaten accommodators, unprincipled social climbers, opportunistic grifters, venal corporate exploiters, compromised bureaucrats, Stockholm Syndrome hostages, and run-of-the-mill, non-ideological minions who are happy to have a cushy, low-skilled job because it’s better than working at Starbucks. DEI successfully assembled a big tent movement. The task at hand is to methodically disassemble it.
The question DEI opponents must ask, then, is how to best foment internecine warfare that gets these people to rebuke, denounce, and fight each other. Where are the fault lines into which a prybar can be inserted? What suppressed enmities, jealousies, and resentments can be inflamed? How can whistleblowers be incentivized? How can apostates be valorized? These are not idle questions; they all have rational answers buried within the obfuscated contradictions that make up DEI dogma and the destructive polices promulgated on campus. Hence, strategy development starts with creating and prioritizing a list of potent wedge issues.
What are some candidates? The best place to start is at the radical extreme, which, in this case, means focusing on the transgender insanity. The constellation of beliefs that sex is not a binary but a spectrum, that gender is a fluid social construct, that it is not only acceptable but should also be the medical standard of care to administer puberty blockers to children or amputate body parts of confused teenagers rather than let them grow out of their dysphoria or grow up to be healthy, normal, gay adults, that male athletes declaring themselves female should be allowed to compete in women’s sports, that male serial rapists who suddenly “transition” after being convicted should be housed in women’s prisons, and that sexualized drag shows are appropriate for children is rife with contradictions and nascent conflicts that can be aggravated to undermine the solidarity of the DEI movement. QT must be separated from LGB, the latter slowly realizing the threat this unnatural alliance represents to their beliefs and agenda.
Next up would be a careful examination of the hierarchy of oppression as it clashes with the de facto zero-sum spoils system that DEI programs have established in higher education admissions, hiring, and promotion. The anticipated SCOTUS decision on affirmative action should add a welcome infusion of energy to that approach.
Why are overrepresented, middle-class, heterosexual white women garnering more than their fair share of DEI largesse? Why are native-born African Americans getting pushed aside by Latinx illegal immigrants? Why has the fight against “Islamophobia” been widely embraced despite Islam being the least woke of all religions, while anti-Christian sentiment is tacitly endorsed and antisemitism is actively inflamed? How can the blanket category of “Asian” that lumps together Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Philippine, Indian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Pakistani ethnicities—all with different cultural capital and lived experiences—provide a rational justification for ranking individuals when doling out preferences or imposing handicaps?
Finally, there is the issue of administrative bloat as the professoriate gets hollowed out by the extensive use of cheaper adjuncts. Why should growing DEI empires be supported in an era of runaway college costs and budgetary belt-tightening? At what point does hiring another flock of non-teaching, unproductive bureaucrats at the expense of tenure-track faculty become an existential threat to an institution’s mission?
That’s the strategic environment. What about tactics?
Unless you’re a red-state politician who has cracked the code on how to make electoral hay out of the DEI counterrevolution, you will be fighting an asymmetric war against a heavily entrenched establishment. Which means it’s time to dust off your old copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and take a page or two from the evil genius who helped set this whole cultural train wreck in motion half a century ago.
[Related: “The State of the University: An Anthropologist’s Perspective”]
Every campus is different; hence, we need a tailored insurgency at each. What works at a STEM institution like MIT—whose cultural integrity has only been partially compromised and whose faculty and student body have not been wholly infected by the woke mind virus—may not be effective at a liberal arts university like Yale, which may be beyond hope. A sympathetic president who realizes she has a problem, rather than one that has drunk the DEI Kool-Aid, can also make a huge difference.
Recruiting disgusted and dedicated alumni to the cause is a critical task, particularly older graduates with stronger immunity to employer retaliation or Twitter cancellation. Outreach programs will likely have to bypass established alumni associations, whose missions are to feed alumni the administration’s party line while picking their pockets to finance more bloat. Most alumni have no idea how bad things have gotten at their alma maters, so shining a spotlight on the worst DEI depredations, CRT ideology, and trans insanity will help swell the backlash. You might even consider implementing Saul Alinsky’s Rule #5 (ridicule is man’s most potent weapon) by launching a satire webzine poking fun at the worst campus excesses.
Alumni free speech organizations are sprouting like mushrooms after a rainstorm, providing a nexus for action. If your college or university doesn’t have a chapter of the Alumni Free Speech Alliance, consider starting one. Most of these advocacy groups are not explicitly anti-DEI, at least not yet. But they will inevitably pivot in that direction when they honestly examine the root causes of cancel culture, viewpoint orthodoxy, and free speech suppression. As the Overton window shifts, the need for these organizations to accommodate prospective members who are afraid to join a group that opposes DEI will diminish.
It is apparent to all, including advocates, that DEI programs cannot withstand rational scrutiny or objective assessment. This is why DEI deans refuse to debate, insisting that their dogmas be accepted on faith. A good place to get the wrecking ball swinging is to insist on detailed financial audits and performance reviews. College and university presidents must be pressured into revealing how many DEI deans, assistant deans, associate deans, directors, administrators, consultants, and other staff they’ve hired across all of their different schools, centers, programs, and departments. Make them publish the annual aggregate budget for these personnel and the numerous projects and “training” programs they’ve spawned, explaining where that money is coming from and what else those funds could be doing. On the performance side, what measurable objectives were established when these DEI personnel were hired, what independent party is assessing their performance, and have any of the stated objectives been met?
If it was the intention of DEI programs to foster racial harmony, build a stronger sense of community, promote universal feelings of belonging, and improve the mental health of the student population, they have failed miserably. It’s time to harpoon the Leviathan.
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14 thoughts on “How to Harpoon the DEI Leviathan”
What an interesting metaphor for argument: harpooning.
Prof Castor states that he is surrounded by a clamoring to kill DEI (or severely wound it with harpoon. His article is a list of grievances without any logical or empirical back-up.
There is much I would love to debate about this critique of DEI. But let me state a few general comments to raise some conversation.
1) As an anthropologist, I have to understand that although anthropology is often cited as one of the “progressive” liberal arts disciplines because of it multi-cultural and historical perspectives, we have to remember that as Prof. Kathleen Gough stated a half of a century ago “A daughter of imperialism.” That is to say many of the founders were complicit with colonial methods of undermining the socio-political structure of non western society.
2) Anthropologists also played a role in undermining southeast asian society during the Viet Nam war era.
3) At the same time, Anthropology is I would argue in the best position to critically examine socio-economic inequity and its cultural roots.
I would close by saying: the issue I have with Prof. Castor and others that argue with him is that they impugn motives to the DEI process without any evidence. I served as a chair and dean for over twenty years and I never saw DEI used in a nefarious or discriminatory manner. I did see an amazing level of bureaucracy and often incompetence in understanding the notion of culture and the processes that have historically created a white male college faculty and administration. I saw faculty and administrators look to people who were like them and in their intellectual comfort zone in their hiring practices. More than this , I saw a nearly total lack of ability to implement fair practices to open up higher education to non-white candidates.
I close with a quote from Jon Stewart concerning the so-called woke divide:
“There is a difference between viewpoints that don’t align and weaponizing issues to create fault lines.”
Calling people woke (is the opposite asleep?) doesn’t help anyone’s cause.
“I never saw DEI used in a nefarious or discriminatory manner.”
“I saw a nearly total lack of ability to implement fair practices to open up higher education to non-white candidates.”
There is much I would like to say about the state of Anthropology. But some other time.
I close with a quote from Martha Stewart.
“Of course I know how to roll a joint.”
Anthropologists can take great pride in being founders of the woke, DEI, CRT, trans lunacy. Beginning with a formal rejection by the AAA of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on to one of the most prominent cases of brutal cancellation–Napoleon Chagnon–and on to the extremist formulation of cultural relativism to mean that all cultures are equally good. Mix in the Marxists, such as K. Gough, because Marxists have made such successful societies, and the credentials of anthropology are unparalleled. But wait–official antisemitism is just around the corner.
As an anthropologist since 1960, I say this with sadness. Much wonderful work has gone by the board. It was a enriching field, once.
“That is to say many of the founders were complicit with colonial methods of undermining the socio-political structure of non western society.” That’s what every culture does when in a dominant position. Belive in your own values, no?
As I look over your comment, I can’t help but realize that you must be i) retired, and ii) not in touch with recent events concerning DEI in it’s current incarnation. Despite what you may think, DEI is _not the well-meant continuation of the civil rights movement.
Consider some current events driven by DEI:
– At Evergreen College it resulted in a day where all the “white” people were asked to be absent from campus. Professors Bret and Heather resisted this nonsense, and were unable to continue their employment there. (watch Mike Nayna’s documentary on youtube)
– A professor was dismissed for showing 13th century Islamic art to Muslim students, who claimed to have been insulted and/or threatened by seeing a depiction of Muhammed,
– Many colleges now have racially segregated events, where “whites” are not welcome. My former college had an LGBTQ sponsored dinner which explicitly excluded heterosexuals (as a gay man I refused to attend).
– Many colleges also have also incorporated “diversity statements” into their applications, and actively use them to discriminate against those who fail to indicate their willingness to discriminate based on race. It is effectively a political litmus test.
These examples are a tiny fraction of the insanity engendered by Wokeness, and Prof. Castor’s article is written for an audience that is already familiar with them.
By the way, “woke” is the name that these people chose for themselves, in perfect alignment with their general attitude that they know better than the rest of us, who they view to be “asleep”.
Please wake up (but don’t be woke).
Your reference to “the so-called woke divide” indicates that you are blissfully unware of – amongst many other things – the woke trials of Elizabeth Weiss of San José State, surely the most famous tenured anthropology professor in the country (admittedly, a title for which there isn’t much competition).
Elizabeth’s books, Repatriation and Erasing the Past (with James W. Springer), and Reburying the Past, have galvanised the cohors praetoria of political correctness, led SJSU to disavow academic freedom, and generated an ethical and methodological divide within bioarchaeology wider than the Grand Canyon. And you missed it?
The ‘open letter’ addressed to Elizabeth, James, and the University of Florida Press by sundry aggrieved academics from universities in the US and abroad – claiming to speak for the “majority of bioarchaeologists” – is a classic of woke outrage.
Denunciation of the “violent language” of Repatriation and Erasing the Past, is followed by accusations that Elizabeth and James “espouse… explicitly racist ideology” and ideas “antithetical to the contemporary practice of anthropology and actively harmful to Indigenous people and the strides the discipline has made in the last three decades”.
The letter is long and boring, and you can find it with little effort, but it reduces to this: words can inflict “harm”, and the remedy is to ban – or restrict access to – books of which Elizabeth’s accusers disapprove. There is zero interest in Elizabeth’s claims that, for example, San José State, anent the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), intends to “extend… the plans of repatriating human remains to the burning of previously-taken x-rays”, and, furthermore, that plans exist to “destroy photographs and records”. Now, that definitely sounds harmful.
Perhaps, Professor Green, you would like to look into this debacle before expressing any more thoughts on the lack of empirical evidence for academic wokery.
Yes, but for the past 20 years DEI has been helping academia and other institutions diversify, as it should have, and I am glad you’ve not seen nefarious or discriminatory behavior.
But the last 5 years it has run amok.
I have seen in 15 years, I’d say 15 people hired who clearly were not competent enough. I have endured countless payback-inspired hires pretend to know what they were doing.
We’ve been diversifying sufficiently.
If this authors goals are to push back, you would have to fire thousands of people of color, and many women, and of course lots of white woke people, who have no idea what they are doing.
I could tell stories. Most of us in academia could. I think your experience is unique.
One of the greatest minds of our time . Posterity will remember u as the one great voice that catalyzed the redemptive process of the great American culture .
That’s an interesting taxonomy of “DEI bureaucrats, advocates, and administrators” you have there.
As an exercise, where would you locate Jamillah Moore, Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management at San Francisco State?
Moore rushed to thank and commiserate with campus thugs who howled down speaker Riley Gaines, assaulted her, then chased and trapped her in an office from which she was rescued after several hours by an SFPD intervention. College swimmer Gaines was there to state the case for excluding men from women’s sports. As is routine nowadays, the unhinged response of the mob has been extensively documented on social media.
Moore had this to say:
“Today, San Francisco State finds itself again at the center of a national discussion regarding freedom of speech and expression. Let me begin by saying clearly: the trans community is welcome and belongs at San Francisco State University. Further, our community fiercely believes in unity, connection, care and compassion, and we value different ideas, even when they are not our own. SF State is regularly noted as one of the most diverse campuses in the United States—this is what makes us Gators, and this is what makes us great. Diversity promotes critical discussions, new understandings and enriches the academic experience. But we may also find ourselves exposed to divergent views and even views we find personally abhorrent. These encounters have sometimes led to discord, anger, confrontation and fear. We must meet this moment and unite with a shared value of learning.
Thank you to our students who participated peacefully in Thursday evening’s event. It took tremendous bravery to stand in a challenging space. I am proud of the moments where we listened and asked insightful questions. I am also proud of the moments when our students demonstrated the value of free speech and the right to protest peacefully. These issues do not go away, and these values are very much at our core.
This feels difficult because it is difficult. As you reflect, process, and begin to heal, please remember that there are people, resources and services available and ready to receive our Gator community, including faculty, staff members, coaches and mentors who are here to support you.”
Well-meaning, old-school liberal, mild-mannered bandwagoner, browbeaten accommodator, unprincipled social climber, opportunistic grifter, compromised bureaucrat, Stockholm Syndrome hostage, odious and repugnant hypocrite?
I can’t decide.
I defer to you, Mitt.
Both “unprincipled social climber, & opportunistic grifter.”
Both. Almost every academic administrator I have ever met is both.
Dugin in his 2021 book “Great Awakening vs the Great Reset” links the #trans phenomenon to Occam’s nominalistic philosophy, which knows of no essences. That problem was solved logically in the 1970s logic by Kripke and others. It is not that difficult to read, and it will give you the tools to combat the mind virus.
All I can say to everything in your description/analysis is thank you .
Let’s face it the world has gone insane and all caused by social media. There is no such thing as a male female or a female male. We are what we are born as. We can pretend in our head have surgery take drugs that change us but in the end we are still the same as what we were born as. Its all just a sick fantasy being used by socialist governments to undermine the free world. Even man made climate change is a fantasy but 85% of people have been brainwashed to believing man affects the climate. Climate change is as it has always been nature. Its been that way for hundreds of thousands of years why is it now man made climate change? Its as fictional as the transgender disorder. Climate change is the same today as it was a hundred thousand years ago it’s Mother Nature’s doing and nothing else. If one were to believe in such a thing as religion it would be hard to argue against the idea of an evil entity in the world.
The world has gone insane and it’s all caused by social media. There is no such thing as a male female or a female male. We are what we are born as. We can pretend in our head have surgery take drugs that change us but in the end we are still the same as what we were born as. Its all just a sick fantasy being used by socialist governments to undermine the free world. Even man made climate change is a fantasy but 85% of people have been brainwashed to believing man affects the climate. Climate change is as it has always been nature. Its been that way for hundreds of thousands of years why is it now man made climate change? Its as fictional as the transgender disorder. Climate change is the same today as it was a hundred thousand years ago it’s Mother Nature’s doing and nothing else. If one were to believe in such a thing as religion it would be hard to argue against the idea of an evil entity in the world.