In recent years, corporations, government agencies, and institutions of higher education across the country have undertaken a range of initiatives for the stated purpose of fostering greater diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within their organizations.

DEI programs have frequently been met with significant criticism and resistance. At first glance, the opposition to DEI programs might seem strange, even troubling. Who, after all, could be opposed to efforts designed to enhance diversity? Who could be opposed to fairness or inclusiveness? These concepts are embedded in the DNA of America.

How then to explain the widespread opposition that has arisen to DEI programs? The problem is not with the values of diversity, equity, or inclusion. The problem arises from the fact that DEI programs, as they have typically been implemented, are programs that pose a grave threat to the very values they claim to promote.

The intolerant functionaries who so often define and drive DEI programs use Maoist-style struggle sessions to denounce and humiliate individuals who have dared to dissent from program orthodoxies and intimidate those who might think to dissent. They unlawfully compel compliant speech and extract publicly sworn loyalty oaths to enforce uniformity of opinion and restrict the free exchange of ideas.

These DEI functionaries condemn meritocracy and equal protection under the law to justify the pursuit of so-called equity, the discriminatory leveling distribution of status and benefits to politically favored constituencies at the expense of others not so favored. But by validating the concept of identity-based discrimination and perpetuating the soft bigotry of low expectations, DEI administrators deny to those who they claim to care about the only certain source of fairness and opportunity for personal fulfillment—equal meritocratic opportunity based on equal protection under the law.

DEI functionaries and their followers use mob-backed cancellation tactics to suppress free speech by excluding from the public conversation those who dissent from DEI orthodoxies. They use Kafkaesque reporting programs that solicit anonymous denunciations of disfavored speech to suppress dissent and enforce intellectual conformity. And they use unlawful, discriminatory employment practices to enforce uniformity of opinion by excluding dissenters from opportunities for employment, retention, and advancement within organizations where DEI has come to define the culture.

Behind all the appealing but misleading terminology and inversion of customary meaning reminiscent of Orwellian Newspeak, typical DEI programs are in reality a destructive combination of divisive concepts that entrench indefensible Discrimination, Exclusion, and Inequality. DEI programs, as they have come to be, have no place in a country founded on the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the equalitarian rule of law embodied in the Constitution.

Our nation was founded on the revolutionary proposition that all persons are equal in the only ways that matter, each and all endowed by their Creator with inherent dignity, a shared sacred humanity, and unalienable rights that must be respected and protected. This revolutionary proposition entails equality before the law, entitlement to think and speak and worship and associate freely, and the idea that richly diverse peoples can form a strongly united nation—e pluribus unum. Indeed, it is fair to say that America was founded to implement the greatest diversity, equity, and inclusion program in the history of the world.

We will never achieve the justice and inclusive community we naturally seek as Americans by embracing the divisive identitarian concepts embodied in contemporary DEI programs. We must instead rededicate ourselves to revitalizing the grand idea of America that is embodied in the principles and institutions of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. That is the only true and proven way to combat discrimination, overcome division, foster inclusive community, and ensure that each and every person is respected for the sacred humanity that resides in all of us. 

July 4th marks the anniversary of our founding and the beginning of our 248th year together as citizens privileged to live in a free republic. This celebration would be a fitting time to recommit ourselves to the self-evident truths that provide the one sure foundation for true and lasting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Note from the Editor: The Federalist Society takes no positions on particular legal and public policy matters. Any expressions of opinion are those of the author. We welcome responses to the views presented here. To join the debate, please email us at [email protected].