At an October rally before the midterm elections, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared that his state is “where wokeness goes to die.” Similarly, earlier this month, Governor DeSantis announced six appointees to New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees to combat woke ideology.
One of the new board members, Christopher Rufo, is one of the conservative movement’s leading voices on calling out wokeness in higher education. He laid out an agenda for “transform[ing] New College into a classical liberal arts institution.” Most notably, Rufo’s objective was to “abolish ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ and replace it with ‘equality, merit, and colorblindness.’” This proposal alone has the potential to shift the landscape of higher education.
Like many colleges and universities, New College is rife with the pernicious ideology of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI). These ideas have seeped their way into government, higher education, and corporate America seemingly uncontested – all part and parcel with the left’s “long march through the institutions.” Make no mistake, DEI is toxic and must be removed from the institutions.
Somehow, when companies implement policies to force a desired demographic breakdown and when universities racially segregate commencement ceremonies, that is “diversity.” It is not only illegal, but rather a wholehearted endorsement of the racist “separate but equal” doctrine. “Equity,” which I attacked last year, manifests in the elimination of advanced classes in schools due to racial disparities and bigoted policies like Affirmative Action – policies that deliberately modify the college admissions criteria on the basis of race. Last but not least, “inclusion” is the wannabe totalitarian speech codes and safe spaces that deem any thought in misalignment with the woke orthodoxy to be an act of hate.
Herein lies why New College of Florida’s plan to develop an alternative creed is a winning strategy in the culture. However misleading the DEI acronym is, we cannot accuse liberals of being aimless. Democrats continue to deride Republicans as standing for nothing, and this criticism is not unfounded. The RNC did not even update the party platform before the last presidential election. Conservatives cannot be a movement defined solely in opposition to the left. We must present a compelling vision for the country to follow.
Equality, merit, and colorblindness (EMC) poses a perfect foil to woke DEI. Where DEI promotes “separate but equal,” conservatives support race neutral policies. Instead of identity quotas, conservatives favor meritocracy.
While some conservatives advocate for political neutrality in institutions, we must realize that this ultimately noble objective is not realistic in the short-term. The leftist takeover of the institutions has shown that neutrality easily falls into apathy. As long as the poison of DEI courses through the culture, there can be no apathy if conservatives hope to win.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin understood this fact last year when he rebranded his state’s Office of DEI to “Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion” and redefined the Chief Diversity Officer’s job description as being an “ambassador for unborn children.” I understand wanting corporate America out of politics. However, I cannot help but imagine what a different country America would be if institutions mobilized to oppose abortion instead of promoting it.
Diversity ideology is poisonous. It foments racism while breeding a culture of self-worship, tribalism, and petty authoritarianism. Without question, it must go. With the changes coming to New College of Florida, reversing the long march through the institutions has a new positive vision of promoting equality, merit, and colorblindness.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.