Marjorie Davis

Why I joined the DEI group, and why I left

A Book about DEI diversity, equity and inclusion and paper figurines.
A Book about DEI diversity, equity and inclusion and paper figurines.

In 2019, the UK’s Labour Party released a video saying, “Diversity is our greatest strength. Labour will support people who wear a hijab, a turban, or a cross. The Labour government will value you; just be your true, authentic self.”

With no mention of a yarmulke or a Jewish star, the video made clear that Jews were strikingly absent from Labour’s list of valued people.

Given Labour’s proclivity towards antisemitism, it is easy to categorize this omission as such; however, it is also possible that the omission is yet another example of Jewish people being routinely excluded, because we are often simply overlooked.

When David Baddiel wrote Jews Don’t Count, he was referring to the progressives’ erasure of Jews, either inadvertently or intentionally, and their failure to speak out against hatred when it is directed at Jews.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer made an impassioned speech in November 2023, saying, “Not long ago, many of us marched together for black and brown lives. We stood against anti-Asian hatred. We protested bigotry against the LGBTQ community. But apparently, in the eyes of some, that principle does not extend to the Jewish people.”

In recent years, many companies, governments, and schools have jumped on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) bandwagon. Not to be confused with Equality which is a worthy ideal and one of America’s founding principles, Equity is a political construct and therefore should have no place in companies or schools. The concept of Diversity and Inclusion seeks to welcome all types of identity, but somehow it frequently has no room in its big tent for Jews.

Like many others, my company created an internal DEI group, which organized informational sessions on different topics, such as LGBTQ, black history, women’s rights, and the rise in Asian hatred.

Notably absent was any session on antisemitism. I found it puzzling, but not surprising, that a group so focused on inclusion could exclude the “poster child” of injustice and oppression. I decided to bring the omission to the group’s attention.

And that is why I joined the DEI group.

The two main objectives of the DEI meetings were: organizing the informational sessions, and posting on our company’s internal website stories highlighting achievements of marginalized groups such as women, blacks, and Hispanics. Personally, I could not understand the value of taking a group of people, and broadcasting some of their achievements. Certainly, people understand that every group has made contributions to society, and the specific identity bucket they fall into seems irrelevant. I have never heard of someone who was choking declining the Heimlich maneuver because Heimlich was Jewish. We all benefit from each other’s contributions. Why is it necessary to divide people by identity?

When I pointed out that antisemitism was not included in their session topics, the group members were very receptive to holding a session addressing antisemitism, encouraging me to find a speaker. I specifically said that I did not want the event to include only the low-hanging fruit of right-wing antisemitism. An honest, comprehensive class must include left-wing antisemitism.

The speaker I brought in was very effective, focusing on topics such as the IHRA definition of antisemitism and the anti-Israel sentiment on the left, particularly on college campuses. She, of course, steered clear of politics and the Palestinian conflict.

It turned out that the antisemitism session, which took place on September 20, 2023, had the second-highest attendance level of all of the sessions.

Then, with a thud, the page on the calendar turned to October 7.

Like Jews around the world, I was shaken by the massacre in Israel and the ensuing worldwide antisemitism.

Prior to our next DEI meeting later in October, I asked the group leader if I could take some time during the meeting to discuss the recent dramatic rise in antisemitism. I told her that just a few nights earlier, two miles from my home in Providence, RI, there was a 700-person rally where people were saying, “We want the Jews out of Rhode Island” and were spitting on Jewish-owned businesses.

I also asked if I could post on our internal website, a non-political fact sheet about Israel, to remind people that Israel was more than just a victim of terror.

Both of my requests were denied, as they were deemed too controversial.

Imagine if there had been a horrific attack against black communities and immediately after, the KKK marched in cities across the world, chanting anti-black slogans. Can anyone honestly say that the next DEI meeting would have proceeded as planned, with no mention of the events?

If Sweden, Japan, Australia, or any democratic country other than Israel had been attacked so brutally, can anyone honestly say that they would not have been given the opportunity to post a tribute to their homeland?

Shortly after the George Floyd murder, someone in my company created a post stating that looting and property damage were justified. A societal decay is evident when breaking the law is considered acceptable, but simply bringing up the attack in Israel and discussing the spike in antisemitism were too controversial.

The same group of people who parse comments, eager to find microaggressions everywhere, are so quick to ignore the macroaggressions when they are directed at Jews. Instead of talking about a massacre that took place because of hatred towards a particular identity, and acknowledging the dangers Jews were facing worldwide, they were focusing on hidden bias for another marginalized group – one which did not have people around the world calling for its genocide. There was a five-alarm fire for the Jewish people, and instead of addressing it, the firemen were doing paperwork.

And that is why I left the DEI group.

I believe that my experience in my company’s DEI group is no different than it would have been at any other company. I happen to work for what I consider to be a great organization. It is the stain of DEI that taints even the greatest companies.

DEI’s minimization of antisemitism is only one of its faults.

DEI divides people into two categories: the oppressed and the oppressor. In the dystopian world of DEI, the oppressed can do no wrong. Even criminal acts such as destroying someone’s property and stealing their goods are somehow justified.

Conversely, the oppressor can do no right. In the myopic views of DEI advocates, it is unfathomable that someone’s success can be the result of anything other than privilege or the act of oppressing others. They fail to understand that it is possible for even the most persecuted people to be successful if they have the right value system.

In the regressive mindset of a DEI proponent, diversity is king, making it perfectly acceptable for meritocracy to be replaced with mediocrity. The end-result is often a contrived diversity, created by a hegemonic group who prioritizes identity over everything else.

In their zeal for DEI, Harvard board members rejected meritocracy, choosing the feckless Claudine Gay as president. Her inept performance at a congressional hearing, coupled with accusations of plagiarism, led to her ouster. It is telling that the president who was selected after Harvard’s shortest search in 70 years, was also the president to serve the shortest term in the history of Harvard.

Former NYT editor, Bari Weiss said, “The movement that is gathering power does not like America or liberalism. It does not believe that America is a good country—at least no better than China or Iran. It calls itself progressive, but it does not believe in progress; it is explicitly anti-growth. It claims to promote “equity,” but its answer to the challenge of teaching math or reading to disadvantaged children is to eliminate math and reading tests. It demonizes hard work, merit, family, and the dignity of the individual.”

DEI advocates dismiss accusations of antisemitism in their movement; however, a recent ADL survey revealed a direct connection between those who believe multiple antisemitic tropes, and those who embrace the oppressor/oppressed narrative.

People who support this ideology fail to recognize that there is a power in numbers, a power that Jews simply do not have. In a world where there are over two billion Christians, and over 1.5 billion Muslims, the Jewish population is 16 million. Similarly, Israel makes up only .1% of the land in the Middle East, with Muslim countries making up the remaining 99.9%. When a famous figure posts on social media negative comments about Jews or Israel, often the number of people who read these posts exceeds the worldwide Jewish population.

Nowhere has the DEI ideology taken root to the extent it has on college campuses. With the birth of DEI came the death of tolerance, acceptance, and free speech – for Jews, that is. With the creation of ‘safe spaces’ came the loss of safety – for Jews, that is.

At universities across the country, students and faculty have called for the elimination of Israel and for the death of Jews worldwide. Under the guise of freedom of speech, the schools have allowed this despicable behavior; however, the right to free speech quickly falls away when the speech is directed against other groups.

Harvard revoked an invitation to a speaker after learning that she was against biological men competing against women in sports. At MIT a Catholic chaplain was asked to resign after he doubted whether George Floyd’s murder was due to racism, and said that Floyd “had not lived a virtuous life.”

In the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression Annual College Free Speech Rankings, even prior to October 7, Harvard ranked last out of 248 universities, with a rating of 0.0.

DEI encourages diversity yet discourages diversity of ideas. DEI champions inclusion, but rarely includes anyone with an opposing opinion. In fact, only 3% of Harvard professors are conservatives.

Author John Ervine said, “Every man should periodically be compelled to listen to opinions which are infuriating to him. To hear nothing but what is pleasing to one is to make a pillow of the mind.”

Thinking it will increase their IQ, non-Jews in South Korea have started to study the Talmud, a series of Jewish texts consisting of generations of rabbinic debate of philosophy, law, and biblical interpretations. They might not be aware, however, that there is a secret sauce baked into the study process: Jews study the Talmud with partners who often have different interpretations of a passage, leading to robust disagreements and discussions. Arguing and learning go hand-in-hand. It is not just the act of studying that increases wisdom, but studying with someone who has a different point of view.

Imagine if elite universities were willing to hire professors, based on merit instead of ideology. Imagine if the faculty had views spanning the entire political spectrum, from liberal to conservative and everything in between. Imagine how much diversity there could be.

Imagine if universities were unafraid to invite guest speakers who voiced perspectives unaligned with most of the students’ views. Imagine if the students believed in the right to free speech for everyone. Imagine how much inclusion there could be.

Imagine if students were willing to engage in vigorous debate with fellow students having a different mindset.  Imagine if they were willing to stretch their minds, pondering opinions that did not match their own. Imagine how much wisdom there could be.

Just imagine.

About the Author
Marjorie lives in Providence, RI. She graduated from Brandeis University and is a Senior Database Specialist in a large, international technology company. Marjorie, a Zionist, is a voracious reader of books and articles pertaining to Israel and antisemitism.
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