Last year, conservatives began taking action against the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” bureaucracy. The Manhattan Institute released a model policy to abolish DEI, exposed abuses in public universities, and advised political leaders, most notably Florida governor Ron DeSantis, in the crafting of legislation abolishing public-university DEI programs at the state level. To date, three states—Florida, Texas, and Tennessee—have passed laws abolishing or restricting DEI. A total of 17 states have either passed such laws or are considering them.

Our efforts are bearing fruit. Last week, the University of Florida, the flagship state institution, announced that it had dissolved its DEI department and terminated the employment of all DEI officials. UF was spending an astonishing $5 million per year on DEI programs, which university president Ben Sasse wisely redirected toward faculty recruitment. The new budget would presumably include recruitment for UF’s Hamilton Center, a new home for conservative scholars. Sasse also offered a positive alternative to DEI, promising to hold the institution to the much better standard of “universal human dignity.”

Conservatives are rightly celebrating the move as a watershed. DEI is not an inevitability; it is a choice that can be undone.

Corporate America is following suit. Firms including Google, Meta, and Zoom have quietly cut back DEI departments and laid off employees. I have recently spoken with a number of Fortune 500 executives, who explained that, following the summer of George Floyd, companies felt immense pressure to “do something” about racial disparities. But four years later, they have realized that DEI programs undermine productivity, destroy merit-based systems, and poison corporate culture. Because of our successful campaign to expose the true nature of DEI, they now have the political space—in essence, the social permission—to wind down these programs.

But we need to do much more. The best way to conceptualize DEI is as the marriage of ideology and bureaucracy, or, more specifically, as the marriage between critical race theory and affirmative action. On their path to power, DEI activists hijacked the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which, in spirit, enshrines policies of colorblind nondiscrimination—to justify active discrimination against supposed “oppressor” groups. In doing this, they have gained significant leverage. While the recent firings of DEI employees are a salutary development, the movement to restore colorblind equality can succeed only if we reform civil rights law to reinstate its original focus on individual rights under the law, without regard to race—and dramatically reduce the footprint of critical race ideologies in public universities.

That said, we should celebrate the moment. At the beginning of last year, when we formally launched the “abolish DEI” campaign, it was seen as a fringe, right-wing proposal. Since then, it has achieved significant political victories and become the mainstream position, with widespread support. While momentum is on our side, we should press for maximal demands: abolish DEI in all American institutions, terminate the employment of all DEI bureaucrats, and encourage them to find gainful work elsewhere.

Let us hope that this moment is only the beginning of a “pink slip revolution.”

Photo: Comstock Images/Stockbyte via Getty Images


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