A hearing last week before the House Homeland Security Committee would have been hilarious if it hadn’t been so appalling, or maybe it’s the other way around. Anyhow, according to a May 21 article in Congressional Quarterly (subscription required), the focus was on the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to achieve greater racial and ethnic diversity in its personnel, and of course the committee’s Democrats thought that DHS needed to do more to get its numbers right.
The appalling/hilarious part is how openly contemptuous the committee was of rules, regulations, and procedures to ensure that the federal government not give preference based on race and ethnicity. “You can’t hire anybody unless they go through this [race-blind] Web site, so how can you have any kind of affirmative action program?” asked the incredulous Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.).
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.) impatiently noted that such regulations could be gotten around. “If you really want to diversify, you can diversify.” Notwithstanding the “legal barriers,” he said, “it can be done.” He cited his own successes in avoiding a pesky federal court order when he was the state chairman of higher education in Texas: “I did what I needed to do and diversified.”
So the Bush administration told them to go packing, and stood up for hiring the best qualified, without fear or favor, right? Well, apparently not. While the DHS witness did express reluctance to violate the laws, she cheerfully pointed out a way to better achieve a politically correct racial and ethnic balance nonetheless: “I think we have to change the regulations,” she said.