President Obama issued an executive order yesterday titled, “Establishing a Coordinated Government-Wide Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce.” It’s quite vague, extolling the value of diversity without defining it, and setting up a “government-wide initiative” for “all agencies” that will “develop and issue a Government-wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan.” Details later, and the devil, of course, will be in the details.
Still, it’s bad enough already. If government personnel are told to strive for diversity, then of course they will be putting their fat thumbs on the scale to ensure a politically correct racial, ethnic, and gender mix, and that means that there will be divisive, unfair, inefficient discrimination, with the best qualified people not getting hired and promoted.
It is good that the order makes a bow towards “equal opportunity” (as opposed to equal results) and to acting “consistent with applicable law” (which does not recognize a diversity exception to the prohibition on employment discrimination), and asks agencies “to identify and remove barriers to equal employment opportunity” (which could and should be done in a way that is actually nondiscriminatory).
But let’s not kid ourselves. Yesterday’s executive order is another big and unwelcome step — by the federal government generally and this administration in particular — away from the principle of nondiscrimination. In our increasingly multiethnic and multiracial nation, it is untenable for our national government to be classifying people according to skin color and what country their ancestors came from, and treating some better and others worse, based on which silly little box they check.