Opposition to intolerance is a one-way street in the brave new world of diversity education. That was the only conclusion to be drawn from the outcome of a controversy surrounding an attempt on the part of a person who wanted to stop the use of an abusive racial term.
But the fate of Bo Young Lee, who until recently served as Uber’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, should serve as an object lesson for those who may still cling to the delusion that the ideas behind her title are anything but a formula for dividing Americans. In fact, it only serves to make them less tolerant rather than more accepting. Jews were conspicuous by their absence from this story, but it still has meaning for them. Those who believe that the woke catechism of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) isn’t a formula for undermining the rights of American Jews aren’t paying attention to how woke bureaucracies and the mobs that guide them operate.
In the past, business acumen was supposed to be the way ambitious people carved out lucrative careers in corporate America. But the new secular religion of DEI—almost universally adopted by corporations, schools, arts organizations and even the U.S. government as the guiding force in hiring and determining policy—gave Young her path to a leading position she had held in a Fortune 500 company since 2018. People like her now proliferate throughout the country operating as woke commissars enforcing the new racist rules of “anti-racism,” compelling compliance with threats of cancelation and opprobrium.
It all came apart for Young when, according to a report in The New York Times, along with all the usual exercises rooted in critical race theory that elevate equity—or equal outcomes—over equal opportunity for everyone, she decided to try to deal with a growing problem involving racial intolerance. Her sin was to hold and moderate a program for Uber employees that sought to address the way white women are dismissed and stigmatized by the use of the term “Karen.”
In the post-Black Lives Matter summer of 2020, the use of the term “Karen” has become a popular term of abuse for allegedly entitled white females. But, as Young’s effort reflected, whatever its origins, any derogatory term for a racial category ultimately becomes a way of “othering”—in the language of DEI—a specific group in a way that is both insensitive and prejudicial. The program sought to give voice to the “spectrum of experience” of white women who worked at the tech company in what was billed as “an open and honest conversation about race.”
Somehow Young, herself an Asian-American, failed to remember that DEI programs are not supposed to be about such “open and honest” conversations. Anything that deviates from a narrative in which everyone is neatly divided along the lines of CRT ideology by race into rigid categories of victims and oppressors solely defined by their race is unacceptable.
The goal of the effort was sensitivity, and eradicating racial stereotypes and abusive terms. But any highlighting of the problems of those who aren’t defined as victims by their race—i.e., white women—was viewed by some of its audience as “insensitive to people of color.”
Apparently, the idea that anyone other than designated oppressed racial minorities could be targeted because of their race was, by definition, offensive. In the DEI world, diversity doesn’t mean accepting and helping everyone. To the contrary, the right to abuse white women in this manner is considered a racial entitlement and being told to stop doing it is interpreted as a form of racism.
That’s how DEI always works. And within a short period of time, the conversation about Young’s “Don’t Call Me Karen” program on Uber’s employee Slack channels turned into a witch hunt for supposed racists. Young, heretofore a champion of DEI ideology, was depicted as having, according to the Times, engaged in a pattern of behavior that was “tone-deaf, offensive and triggering.”
As is almost always the case when woke mobs single someone out for committing such heresy, Uber’s management failed to stand up for their colleague and the principle of fair treatment for all that she was trying to promote.
Instead, they threw her to the wolves by unilaterally surrendering to the mob’s unfair and prejudicial approach to the issue in the way that so many other institutions have done. In an email to the company’s staff, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote: “We have heard that many of you are in pain and upset,” the email said. “While it was meant to be a dialogue, it’s obvious that those who attended did not feel heard.”
Much like the fate of the victims of China’s cultural revolution, the only response from companies is this language of “struggle sessions” in which guilt is cravenly admitted. This is the typical path of appeasement that is employed in such situations where leaders who lack the backbone to say what is obviously right genuflect to DEI racism in order to be spared similar treatment from those demanding the scalp of the designated offender. In an effort to satiate their demand for a scapegoat, Khosrowshahi told his employees that Lee had been forced to take a leave of absence, meaning that she is finished at Uber.
We need not waste any tears on Lee, who, like so many before her in history, has given us an example of how revolutions eat their own after they run out of victims among their open opponents. She will no doubt exit her job with generous compensation, though her chances of being hired again in her chosen field remain nonexistent.
As such, her fate will serve as another salutary warning for anyone who might be thinking of dissenting or offering a slightly different take on diversity training that one can only do so at the peril of one’s job and financial future. In this way, conformity to the reigning ideology is reinforced, and any notion of allowing diverse opinions to be heard is crushed.
While her experience is hardly unique, what happened to Lee at Uber demonstrates just how toxic and divisive a force DEI can be. And it also should send a clear message to those in the Jewish community that any policy other than the most strident and uncompromising opposition to its implementation throughout society will only endanger Jews.
The vast array of liberal Jewish groups, including legacy organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, have drunk the woke Kool-Aid and endorsed both the Black Lives Matter movement and DEI programs in order to stay in sync with their allies on the left. In this way, they are acquiescing to a worldview that uniformly stigmatizes Jews and the State of Israel as “white” and part of the oppressors allegedly victimizing people of color.
Much as white women may be smeared as “Karens” regardless of their conduct, so, too, may Jews be categorized as on the wrong side of the intersectional divide along with other alleged racists who must, in order to be tolerated, admit their “privilege” and accept the DEI catechism.
And since, in the DEI mindset, these racial and ethnic divides—however misguided and inappropriate—are immutable, Jews are perpetually fated to be privileged, despite their long history of oppression and the current epidemic of antisemitic hatred directed at them. As an important study showed, DEI professionals increase antisemitism on college campuses.
Those inclined to ignore the story of the fall of Bo Young Lee from DEI commissar to nonperson as having no importance for Jews or those who are not connected to Uber are deeply mistaken. The same DEI mobs that came for her will not spare Jews or anyone else who gets in their way. The only response to this ideology that weaponizes prejudice and hate in the name of the fake cause of “anti-racism” must be non-compliance and unflinching opposition wherever it is to be found.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.