Conservatives have put diversity programs back in front of the political firing squad this week after Claudine Gay, Havard’s first Black President resigned amid a controversial plagiarism claim and a congressional hearing about the University’s code of conduct policy around Jewish hate speech.
Right-wing mouthpieces took to social calling Gay a diversity hire and using the moment to bash Affirmative Action more than six months after the Supreme Court gutted the race-conscious admissions process.
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy not only tried to claim that Gay was only hired because of Affirmative Action, but he also tried to discredit her career under the guise of DEI.
“Claudine Gay’s rise to Harvard President was no doubt in part the result of affirmative action, but the more interesting dimension is how it reflects the rise of *bureaucrats* over intellectuals at top universities, wrote Ramaswamy. “It wasn’t just the rise of intersectionality that propelled Gay to the top of Harvard. It’s a deeper cultural shift in our country that favors bureaucrats over creators & administrators over intellectuals that has infected nearly every major institution in American life. We miss the deeper point if we focus only on the race/gender/DEI dimension, which is as much a symptom as it is an underlying cause of the problem.”
Claudine Gay’s rise to Harvard President was no doubt in part the result of affirmative action, but the more interesting dimension is how it reflects the rise of *bureaucrats* over intellectuals at top universities. Over two decades, Gay published just 10 articles & zero books.…
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) January 3, 2024
Ramaswamy wasn’t the only conservative to attack diversity after Claudine Gay’s resignation.
Hedge fund billionaire and right-winger Bill Ackman also took to social media to boast about Gay stepping down, while bashing the concept of DEI, calling it the real racism.
“Under DEI’s ideology, any policy, program, educational system, economic system, grading system, admission policy, (and even climate change due to its disparate impact on geographies and the people that live there), etc. that leads to unequal outcomes among people of different skin colors is deemed racist, tweeted Ackman. “As a result, according to DEI, capitalism is racist, Advanced Placement exams are racist, IQ tests are racist, corporations are racist, or in other words, any merit-based program, system, or organization which has or generates outcomes for different races that are at variance with the proportion these different races represent in the population at large is by definition racist under DEI’s ideology.”
He continued, “In order to be deemed anti-racist, one must personally take action to reverse any unequal outcomes in society. The DEI movement, which has permeated many universities, corporations, and state, local and federal governments, is designed to be the anti-racist engine to transform society from its currently structurally racist state to an anti-racist one.”
In light of today’s news, I thought I would try to take a step back and provide perspective on what this is really all about.
I first became concerned about @Harvard when 34 Harvard student organizations, early on the morning of October 8th before Israel had taken any military…
— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) January 3, 2024
Supporters of Claudine Gay didn’t take too kindly to the republican talking points and pushed back on conservative attacks.
When white people are hired in any position, the automatic assumption is they were the best person. When Black people are hired, it’s assumed we got there because of affirmative action — which by the way doesn’t mean under-qualified. If affirmative action never existed, a lot of… https://t.co/315ve3JxYY
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) January 2, 2024
“When white people are hired in any position, the automatic assumption is they were the best person,” Jemele Hill wrote on social. “When Black people are hired, it’s assumed we got there because of affirmative action — which by the way doesn’t mean under-qualified. If affirmative action never existed, a lot of white people would still believe deeply in their own superiority because that is what they’ve been taught. Considering there have been 30 presidents at Harvard and Claudine Gay was the only Black one in history, she had to be extremely qualified to even be in that position.”
Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network also condemned the attacks on Gay and Diversity initiatives.
“President Gay’s resignation is about more than a person or a single incident. This is an attack on every Black woman in this country who’s put a crack in the glass ceiling, said Sharpton. “It’s an assault on the health, strength, and future of diversity, equity, and inclusion – at a time when Corporate America is trying to back out of billions of dollars in commitments. Most of all, this was the result of Bill Ackman’s relentless campaign against President Gay, not because of her leadership or credentials but because he felt she was a DEI hire.”
Sharpton also announced a picket outside Ackman’s office on Thursday to protest his campaign against Claudine Gay.
“The National Action Network will show Ackman that his attacks on DEI, President Gay, and Black Americans have consequences,” said Sharpton.
“This Thursday, our team will picket outside of his office so New Yorkers, his investors, and Corporate America can see Bill Ackman for who he is. If he doesn’t think Black Americans belong in the C-Suite, the Ivy League, or any other hallowed halls, we’ll make ourselves at home outside his office.”
DEI seems to be the new boogyman for conservatives who refuse to the history of injustices towards people of color and the hurdles created by such discrimination.
Who would have thought that wanting tangible diversity in the most diverse nation in the world would be so triggering to folks?
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