The House version of the State Department’s foreign operations appropriations bill calls for defunding the agency’s various special envoys, representatives, and coordinators unless expressly authorized by law or confirmed by the Senate.
Congress is right to scrutinize and prune these proliferating, expensive, and often redundant “special” offices.
One of these positions is the State Department’s “special representative for racial equity and justice,” a post established in June 2022 with Desiree Cormier Smith as its first incumbent.
Since then, the agency says, Smith has “traveled to almost every region of the world” to “engage with and listen to members of marginalized racial, ethnic, and Indigenous communities.”
With what message?
If her recent speech at the State Department is anything to go by, Smith has used her official podium to promote divisive concepts such as intersectionality and anti-racism. The first of these promotes victimhood; the second, despite the name, means racial discrimination in favor of chosen groups.
“I want to acknowledge that we are gathered here on the ancestral lands of the Anacostan and Piscataway peoples,” President Joe Biden’s special representative for racial equity and justice said. “We honor their contributions and resiliency every day.”
Where I’m from, the Picts, Celts, Jutes, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Romans, Normans, and others replaced or dominated each other over centuries, and a “land acknowledgement” would take hours.
Most of history is a series of pillages, conquests, and rapine, and the map of the civilized world is a resulting palimpsest of overlapping and interbreeding humanity.
Native American history, too, is replete with war and territorial expansion. Many tribes were in what is now Washington, D.C., before the English, but there is no reason to suppose that relations between them were always peaceful.
Land acknowledgements attempt to put a pin in history at some specific point, recognizing that time and those people as the true or original owners. Not only is it ahistorical, but it also sends a dangerous message to foreign countries, whose histories are as complex and violent as ours, that some peoples (usually called the indigenous) are more legitimate than others.
Next in her speech, Smith acknowledged the “the [ninth] anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black teenager whose death in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked a national outcry.”
Someone in her position should better understand recent U.S. history, especially if she is going to cite it to influence foreign audiences.
The myth of Brown’s saying “hands up, don’t shoot” before becoming the hapless victim of a racist cop has been comprehensively disproven by eyewitnesses, evidence, and an investigation under President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder.
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown after he reached into Wilson’s police cruiser and violently tried to take his gun, investigations showed. As sociologist Wilfred Reilly tweeted: “Mike Brown attacked and tried to kill a cop, after robbing a minority-owned liquor store. Unbelievable they’re still trying this ‘new civil rights heroes’ crap.”
An 86-page Justice Department report concluded that “Wilson’s account is corroborated by physical evidence and … other eyewitnesses.” The report said “there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat.”
Reilly’s book “Hate Crime Hoax” debunks other myths about crime in the U.S. He points out that “the large numerical majority of American men shot by police are white and Hispanic.” However, a recent report by the Manhattan Institute reveals that the American public is sadly mistaken about crime and police violence, with poll respondents estimating that 54% of the victims in fatal police shootings were black and 23% were white, when in fact 51% of victims were white and 27% black.
In 2015, around 1,200 people were shot and killed in the U.S. by police officers, with a quarter (258) of those shot being black. Of these, only 36 were considered “unarmed” and only 17 were shot by white officers.
And yet, Americans continue to believe there is an epidemic of racist police violence. The resulting campaigns to defund police department and elect prosecutors who don’t prosecute have made life in cities from Austin to Chicago to Washington, D.C., demonstrably less safe.
In addition to falling police manpower numbers and recruitment problems, the “Ferguson effect” prompts officers to retreat from areas and events likely to result in confrontation, to avoid later vilification and prosecution if they make a mistake.
Crime has gotten so bad in Oakland, California, that its NAACP chapter has joined with a prominent local pastor in writing a letter condemning the city for failing to protect residents.
Later in her speech, Smith claimed that her office as Biden’s special representative for racial equity and justice “was born out of the need for global solutions to the global problem of racism that has plagued our world for centuries.”
This statement could have come out of an annual declaration by the socialist Sao Paolo Forum. Of course, the U.S. always should oppose race-based discrimination, and many other countries must grapple with ethnic divisions. But the problem is different in each country, and the solutions are national, not globalist.
In her closing remarks, Smith thanked the sponsoring Foreign Policy for America Foundation, which bills itself as nonpartisan. However, it was “founded in the weeks after the 2016 election” and its leadership is heavy with former Democratic Party political appointees.
The group’s legislative scorecard rates New Jersey’s two Democratic senators highly, with Corey Booker at 100% and Robert Menendez at 78%, but ranks Texas’ senators much lower, with John Cornyn at 25% and Ted Cruz at 11%.
Indiana’s Republican senator, Mike Braun, gets 0% from the Foreign Policy for America Foundation, while Virginia’s Democratic senator, Tim Kaine, gets 100%. Few Republican senators score above 50%.
That’s not surprising, since the organization’s scorecard reads like a Biden campaign document.
In a section on gender equity, the scorecard seeks congressional support for “comprehensive and intersectional approaches to advancing gender equity through U.S. foreign policy.”
In a section on democracy and human rights, it discusses the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021 and argues that the U.S. should “play an important role in encouraging political, economic, and social reforms … by … achieving racial equity.”
A year ago, I asked whether the State Department really needs a “special representative for racial equity and justice.” So far, the answer still seems to be “no.” The agency is already well staffed with employees whose job descriptions encompass everything Smith purports to be doing on the international stage.
The British philosopher John Stuart Mill called the British Empire “welfare for the middle classes.” Jobs such as Biden’s global “antiracism” czar amount to welfare for the leftist professional classes—using our taxes.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal