The New Loyalty Oaths

DEI statements are a failure of priority.

J. Scott Turner

CounterCurrent: Week of 2/6

You thought the loyalty oath was a thing of the past, consigned to the dark days of the McCarthyite Red Scare? Think again. A new loyalty oath has swept through the universities, requiring candidates to swear fealty to “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”™ What as recently as five years ago was considered unthinkable is now de rigueur for any aspiring academic.

The DEI loyalty oath comes in the form of so-called “diversity” statements. These are usually couched in benign language. They are a necessary part of serving an increasingly diverse student body and workforce. DEI statements are one tool that faculty search committees can use to provide a fuller picture of a job applicant’s qualifications. The DEI statement will never be a decisive factor in an applicant’s success, we are told, just one factor among many that search committees must consider. (One factor among many … where have I heard that before?) Suspicions that DEI statements are racial discrimination in drag come from the right-wing fever swamps, we are told. Nothing to see here. In any event, personnel decisions are strictly confidential.

In today’s featured article, “How ‘Diversity’ Policing Fails Science,” National Association of Scholars Research Fellow John Sailer has helpfully tossed and gored those glib rationales right out of the water. John decided to practice journalism: he submitted a FOIA request to Texas Tech University to see the evaluations of more than a dozen faculty candidates. They were carefully redacted to protect the identities of the candidates. These documents reveal that faculty search committees actively penalize candidates for opinions that stray from DEI orthodoxy. Reviewers criticized one candidate because he “mentioned that DEI is not an issue because he respects his students and treats them equally. This indicates a lack of understanding of equity and inclusion issues.” Another candidate received strikes for “minimizing the difficulties of women in the US by comparing to worse situations elsewhere.” Yet another applicant’s noted strength was “lived experience with axes of diversity growing up via the caste system in India.”

One of the most striking examples was a candidate flagged for “poor understanding of the difference between equity and equality [. . .] which suggested rather superficial understanding of DEI more generally.” I would say they’re right—DEI does conflict with equality.

The conclusion is quite clear: DEI statements focus narrowly on race and gender, do screen for political association, and are used as a cover for racial and sexual discrimination. This is all prohibited by law, by the way.

John reveals another troubling dimension: For many years, scientists thought that the whole DEI kerfuffle was a peculiar passion of the humanities. Scientists, dedicated as they were to logic and reason, would never be taken in by the DEI fever. Yet let us remember: John’s FOIA request was to look at DEI statements for applicants in biology. Worse, the biology faculty itself was instrumental in advancing the DEI agenda: the biology faculty solicited DEI statements because the biology faculty itself demanded it.

NAS researchers, including Mason Goad and myself, have been arguing that the hard sciences are losing the search for truth in the name of DEI. John rightfully notes, “Heavily valuing DEI while selecting cell biologists, virologists, and immunologists constitutes a massive failure of priority.”

I would go farther: it is a massive failure of the scientific enterprise. When we are talking about decolonizing mathematics, reimagining “white” physics, and treating the phrase “field work” as a racist microaggression, the sciences are actively going over the edge into mysticism and irrationality

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by the NAS Staff. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Photo by United States Senate, Public Domain.

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