Many corporate executives will tell you that their support for the use of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, along with accompanying diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, is an unqualified good. But what if I told you that there is a direct ideological line that connects ESG and DEI to the brazen antisemitism we are seeing in our streets and on our college campuses. Allow me to explain.
Let’s start with DEI. Many have already noted the connection between critical race theory (CRT) and DEI, and it is the CRT root of DEI that contains the seeds of antisemitism. Specifically, as Victor Joecks has noted: "CRT divides people into ... racial groups—Black and white or Palestinian and Israeli. Those in the victim group are innocent, based on their 'oppressed' status and regardless of their actions."
Or, as Seth Barron has noted: "Despite the fact that the Israeli Jewish population includes Jews of all skin tones, the Zionist project is classed by the Left as a racist colonial state built on stolen land that must be radically 'decolonized.' Israel is a synecdoche for white supremacy." Finally, Adam Novak has noted that: “Heritage scholar Jay Greene looked at tweets by DEI staff at colleges and universities and found that they ‘pay a disproportionately high amount of attention to Israel and nearly always attack Israel.’”
Having identified a thread of antisemitism running from CRT to DEI, let’s turn to ESG. Simply Googling “ESG and DEI” makes clear the connection. A Linklaters memo notes that: “Many believe that DEI falls neatly within the social [‘S’] limb [of ESG] and it's one of the more tangible and measurable metrics of the social limb.”
Why is DEI so “tangible and measurable”? Because you can simply discriminate on the basis of race and other identity categories till your institution represents the perfect equity mosaic. This discrimination is arguably illegal and immoral – but that’s a topic for another day. The point here is that the antisemitism embedded in CRT funnels its way into ESG via DEI.
Does this mean that every DEI and ESG advocate is an antisemite? Of course not. As I have written elsewhere, it is a confluence of true believers, opportunists, useful idiots and cowards that allows the rot of radical leftism to infect our institutions.
The true believers are the unapologetic radicals, like the DEI committee that, according to complaints, “endorsed the narrative that Jews are connected to white supremacy, advancing anti-Semitic tropes concerning Jewish power, conspiracy and control.”
Meanwhile, the opportunists are just responding to incentives, and they’ll keep pushing ESG and DEI so long as the benefits of gorging themselves at the ESG/DEI trough outweigh the costs of occasionally having to express shock at the most recent scandal involving an antisemitic diversity trainer. And it’s going to take a lot to correct the incentives here so long as, among other things, DEI is part of a “whole of government” approach.
The useful idiots in this context genuinely believe that ESG and DEI are a net positive to their institution’s bottom line. And this is not to say that there aren’t good reasons for believing that. It’s just that these folks will continue to be part of the problem for just so long as they remain ignorant (willfully or otherwise) of the fact that ESG and DEI also serve as a trojan horse for radical leftism, including antisemitism.
A good test for this is to review a typical ESG/DEI wish list and then compare it to the campaign platforms of the likes of Elizabeth Warren and AOC. A truly ideologically neutral methodology should not leave us with little to no light between these platforms, and yet that is what many will likely conclude is the case after conducting the experiment.
Finally, the cowards will never challenge anything done in the name of “diversity, equity and inclusion” for fear of being labeled racist or being called some other “ist” or “ic.” Fortunately, leftists have so overplayed their hand when it comes to getting their way by calling people racist that people have realized that if everyone is racist then no one is racist.
Important in all of this is the conclusion espoused by Seth Mandel:
DEI cannot be fixed. It cannot be made to accommodate Jews—because Jews are its scapegoat…. Throughout Jewish history, the answer has never been “bring in more Cossacks.” Jews on campus know this. A Texas report on anti-Semitism prepared for the state legislature surveyed Jewish faculty on their experiences and polled them on possible solutions. Among its conclusions: “None of the respondents believed that ‘hiring more DEI officials’ would have a positive impact on the campus climate for Jewish students.”
That leaves rooting out DEI. Thankfully, blueprints for that exist. For example, both Florida and Texas have embarked on eliminating DEI from their institutions of higher learning. And while we’re at it, it may be time to conclude, as Steve Soukup has, that ESG’s “time has passed” as well.
Stefan Padfield is an associate at the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP), which is the original and premier opponent of the woke takeover of American corporate life. FEP files shareholder resolutions, engages corporate CEOs and board members, submits public comments, engages state and federal leaders, crafts legislation, files lawsuits and directs media campaigns to push corporations to respect their fiduciary obligations and to stay out of political and social engineering.
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