‘Equity’: Reparations by Another Name
Reparations for slavery, though largely disliked by the general public, garnered significant support among Democratic presidential candidates in 2020. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris openly supported the policy, as the New York Times noted in a feature piece that ran on February 21, 2020, headlined “2020 Democrats Embrace Race-Conscious Policies, Including Reparations.”
Reparations, however, never polled well. In a Reuter-Ipsos survey released in June, for example, only 20% of Americans supported the idea. What’s more, only a third of Democrats supported it. Biden can read polls, so he waffled on reparations, promising instead to “study” the issue (a tactic he also employed in sidestepping the issue of court packing).
But the Left, always adept at verbal gymnastics, has merely responded by giving us reparations by another name: “Equity.” And Biden is fully on board. One of his first acts as president was to sign an “Executive Order Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.” “Underserved communities” encompass not only blacks, but Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LBGTQ+) persons.” Thus equity is far more expansive than reparations and would provide rewards to scores of accredited victim groups.
Biden said that the actions “were part of an effort to infuse a focus on equity into everything the federal government does.” Everything.
“Equity” sounds like “equality,” a concept that is part of our founding documents, so it will appeal to many ordinary Americans. At the same time it is designed, as writer Steve Sailer put it, to be a “dog whistle term used to alert the Woke that you intend to deliver to them the equality of outcome they desire rather than the equality of opportunity they deserve.”
The term has been floating about for some time. Like many other bad ideas, the concept of “equity” had its start in the universities before moving to corporate HR departments as part of the mantra of Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity (the acronym, fittingly, is DIE).
Jordan Peterson explains that:
“‘Equity’ is a term designed to signal ‘equality,’ in some manner, and is a term designed to appeal to the natural human tendency toward fairness, but it does not mean the classic equality of the West, which is equality before the law and equality of opportunity. Equality before the law means that each citizen will be treated fairly by the criminal justice and judicial systems regardless of their status -- and that the state recognizes that each individual has an intrinsic value which serves as a limit to state power, and which the polity must respect. There is likely no more fundamental presumption grounding our culture.”
“Equity” is entirely different, Peterson notes. “It is based on the idea that the only certain measure of “equality” is outcome -- educational, social, and occupational. The equity-pushers axiomatically assume that if all positions at every level of hierarchy in every organization are not occupied by a proportion of the population that is precisely equivalent to that proportion in the general population that systematic prejudice (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) must be at play.”
Stated another way, “equity” is to “equality” what “social justice” is to “justice.”
In his book The Quest for Cosmic Justice, Thomas Sowell contrasted justice and social justice:
“‘[A] level playing field’ usually means that everyone plays by the same rules and is judged by the same standards… [I]f the process itself meets that standard, then ‘you had your chance.’ But this is not what is meant by the people who speak of ‘social justice’… The two concepts are mutually incompatible. [p. 9]
The same can be said of equity. It is incompatible with “equality” as the term was understood by the Founders.
Like reparations and social justice, equity is a form of identity socialism, in which the State or collective is empowered to reorganize society to achieve a certain pre-ordained outcome. “Identity socialism” is a term coined by writer and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza to refer the marriage of classic socialism and identity politics, which now represents mainstream thinking in the Democratic Party. This newer kind of socialist thinking, D’Souza argues, “rests on identity politics as constructed around race, gender, and sexual orientation variations in the population, producing groups of victims whom socialists insist have systematically been denied mainstream prosperity.”
And like the State under the old-style socialism, a regime of “equity” will never wither away. As long as individuals are unequal in talent, ability, and drive, there will always be inequality, and thus always the need for an overarching State to intervene on behalf of the accredited victim groups.
The socialists, notes D’Souza, “insist that society is in need of a neutral administrative class. Someone to run things fairly, to iron out the inequities, to take care of the needy, to check and penalize the bad guys, to regulate ‘hate’ and ‘intolerance,’ to always keep the public good in mind. Then they anoint themselves to carry out this necessary task.”
And like the nomenklatura in the old USSR, we can be sure that those in charge of administering the new equity-state will become infinitely more powerful. That, ultimately, is the point.