It’s 2021, but two U.S. senators are approaching presidential cabinet nominees as though we’re back in 1921. Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth and Maise Hirono refuse to approve the nominations of any more white people (unless they belong to the LGTBQ community). That is disgusting. That is discrimination. That is racism.
President Joe Biden claims to be assembling the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history, based solely on the superficial measures of race and gender. Diversity of thought doesn’t count. Amid the rainbow of faces, two senators of Asian descent are angry because they don’t see enough Asian representation.
Illinois Senator Duckworth said explicitly, “I am a ‘no’ vote, on the floor, on all non-diversity nominees. … I will vote for racial minorities and LGBTQ but anybody else, I’m not voting for.”
Hirono joined her colleague’s protest adding, “This is not about pitting one diversity group against another. So I’m happy to vote for a Hispanic, a Black person, an LGBTQ person, an AAPI person. I’d just like to see more diversity representation.”
Duckworth backed down a bit after claiming she got the White House to agree to more Asian Cabinet-level picks.
President Biden defended his Cabinet and sub-Cabinet nominations as having “a lot Asian Americans.” Perhaps he meant half Indian, half Black Vice President Kamala Harris; Chinese-American U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who technically occupies a Cabinet-level position; Indian-American Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; or Chinese-American Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su.
But rather than trying to explain how his picks satisfy their various quotas, President Biden and all Americans should reject the dehumanizing logic. Boiling people down to their skin color and other identities is insulting to their qualifications, credentials, and individuality. However, this is the world that President Biden created when he committed to applying a racial equity lens to every aspect of his presidency and public policy.
No matter how the left tries to frame it, pursuing equity among groups is not equality, it’s discrimination and it’s reprehensible.
Equality unites, equity divides. Equality treats individuals as individuals, respecting the totality of their beings. Equity doesn’t see individuals but groups and boils individuals down to whatever limited characteristics earn them membership into either the category of victim or oppressor. Equity prescribes quotas and preferential treatment of the victimized at the expense of others.
Equity focuses on ensuring that every group has the same outcomes, whereas equality ensures that every person has access to the same opportunities. Equality overcomes discrimination by treating all people the same; equity is only achieved by discrimination.
This is the mindset undergirding Senators Duckworth and Hirono’s comments. And it should be alarming to every person who believes that America should be a place of equality, equal treatment, and equal opportunities.
In truth, our nation has not always lived up to the ideal of equality for all. Slavery, the Civil War, women’s suffrage, the rise of the Know-Nothing Party, and the Civil Rights era mark periods of social upheaval and division stemming from racism, sexism, and xenophobia.
I am a woman. I descend from slaves brought to work the sugarcane fields of the Caribbean. I migrated legally to the U.S. with my family at the age of three. At varying points in history, any of those characteristics would have disqualified me from voting, owning property, being employed, holding a leadership role, or holding a public office.
However, America is not static. Disenfranchised groups, who were treated as second-class citizens and barred from exercising their rights and freedoms, successfully pushed to make this country more inclusive and more equitable. Our nation would eventually rally behind the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that a person would not be defined by their most immutable characteristic of skin color. Yet, today’s social justice movement seeks to replace that dream of equality with the nightmare of equity.
America is a nation that moves forward and rewards merit. The preoccupation with race and willingness to judge individuals based on skin color alone is the epitome of racism. No one would tolerate a white lawmaker saying he or she would oppose all non-white presidential appointees. It should not be acceptable from Blacks, Hispanics, or Asian people either.
Minorities who embrace equity as some form of justice should be careful. One day, someone may move them from the victim column to the oppressor column. But even if this yields them a temporary surge in power, it does so at the expense of our humanity and individuality and degrades the very concept of justice.