Texas Set to Give the Boot to Leftist DEI Offices at Public College Campuses
Jarrett Stepman-Commentary : May 24, 2023
The Daily Signal
In most cases, wokeness doesn't survive when put to a vote. The Left likes to tout “democracy," but they ultimately fear it. They fear what will happen when people wake up and find that they have the power to do something about the noxious changes happening in our country.
In early May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation to prevent colleges and universities there from using federal or state funds on DEI programs. Like on many other issues, Florida and DeSantis have demonstrated that just a few men with courage can reveal a majority.
It turns out that by following through with a clear and directed agenda, Republicans in the Sunshine State have made themselves more popular with more people. Other red states are following in the wake of that success.
On Friday, the Texas House of Representatives voted 83-60 to pass legislation that would ban DEI programs and offices in state colleges and universities.
After the Texas Senate originally passed the bill last month, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a statement:
The Texas Senate has now passed the strongest pushback on woke policies in higher education nationwide. For far too long, academia has been poisoned by woke policies and faculty seeking to indoctrinate our students.
Professors did not believe we would push back on their advances, but they were wrong. Students should be taught how to think critically, not what to think.
Democrats got some concessions in the House. For instance, the final text of the bill, according to the Texas Tribune, "requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct an annual study into the impact of banning DEI offices, allows universities to make 'reasonable efforts' to re-assign employees in DEI offices to new positions with similar pay, and shifts the day the bill goes into effect back by three months to Jan. 1."
The bill will now go back to the Senate for approval of the House amendments to the legislation.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats are apoplectic.
"Diversity is not a threat. Equitable access to education is not a threat. Inclusion is not a threat," state Rep. Victoria Neave Criado, D-Dallas, said during debate on the bill on Friday, according to the Austin American-Statesman. "We turn our cheek away from the real threats that our communities face—the threats of gun violence, threats of poverty, housing insecurity, the threat of illiteracy."
The idea that these DEI administrative cliques at schools aren't just another way to promote and enforce ideological conformity is laughable. What they promote is a threat to our free society.
So, thanks to the Texas Legislature, a small but significant bastion of indoctrination will soon be eliminated. It's a good start, but there's a long way to go before declaring "victory."
Even without these programs, left-wing cultural values will continue to be dominant among the college-educated elite. However, every time one of these institutional gatekeepers is defunded, disempowered, and defanged, a streak of light comes through for those still seeking the truth.
This is how you win.
Over a dozen other states are considering similar legislation.
Almost uniquely in the West, our system of federalism—frayed as it is—provides a staging ground for a serious counterrevolution to the great awokening. As we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's in the states where representative self-government remains closest to how it was originally intended to be in this country.
Sure, some states will sink into idiocy, like California and Illinois. But others are showing that there's another way.
The Biden administration is doing everything it can to maximize the power of the DEI machine—not that the federal bureaucracy needed much coaxing. But the fact that states are taking charge of their own destiny and nipping the woke cultural revolution in the bud is a good sign.
Our colleges and universities are the woke Left's equivalent of religious institutions. Too long have public universities been given a blank check to do as they please. We've unwittingly created a kind of established secular church. They won't reform from within, so now higher education must be pressured from without.
The Left obsesses over the notion that every public institution must "look like America." We the people need to insist that our schools think like America, or at least represent the diversity of thought that exists here. DEI offices currently function to inculcate ideological conformity and promote the pernicious identitarianism that's destroying free thought, free speech, and civil society.
Why are we surprised that generations of the American elite, taught in our schools to think that the ladder of success requires conformity to left-wing cultural values, carry those values over to their jobs in government and the boardroom?
In most cases, wokeness doesn't survive when put to a vote. The Left likes to tout "democracy," but they ultimately fear it. They fear what will happen when people wake up and find that they have the power to do something about the noxious changes happening in our country.
That should be encouraging, even though we can't lose sight of the fact that the Left still has disproportionately enormous and lasting institutional, elite cultural strength.
The best—and perhaps only—way to counter that power is through careful, incremental policy change and a direct counteroffensive through elected representatives.
Florida is leading the way, Texas is following suit, and a wave of other states will likely join after seeing success.
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Jarrett Stepman is a columnist for The Daily Signal. He is also the author of the book "The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America's Past."