Recent developments in the Democratic Party’s ongoing effort to neutralize its left-leaning base have exposed the most dangerous myth of American Exceptionalism. This myth is embodied in the electoral campaign of Kamala Harris and assumes that the Democratic Party is the engine of diversity and inclusion in America.
“Diversity” and “inclusion” are prominent buzzwords in the Democratic Party milieu, especially within major universities and non-profits organizations. They preserve the architecture of empire by painting it with an ebony hue, or the hue of whichever oppressed and exploited sector of society requires “representation” within the existing structures of the system.
Such representation, however, comes without the power necessary for oppressed people, especially Black America, to determine their own destinies and transform the miserable conditions imposed upon them by the very forces directing the diversity regime.
Black faces in high places
Diversity fights racism not by fighting for political and economic power, but by legitimizing the institutions of oppression through the development of “inclusive” leaders servile to corporate power. The presence of such leaders, we are told, makes the U.S. an exceptional nation capable of correcting the most heinous examples of racism and oppression, mainly on a rhetorical basis.
Harris is the most dangerous example of the con of diversity in the 2020 Democratic Party primary race. Her record as a committed servant to Wall Street and the mass incarceration state is well-documented. Yet her opportunistic references to diversity have only strengthened her position within the Democratic Party establishment.
Affirmative action replacement
According to Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford, the con of diversity began after the wholesale dismantling of affirmative action in the Bakke U.S Supreme Court case of 1978.
This case established that institutions of higher education could no longer institute “quotas” for Black admission and essentially stripped the federal government of the power to enforce affirmative action toward Black uplift.
“Diversity” replaced affirmative action as a corporate-led movement to legitimize the careers of individuals such as Harris, leaving the majority of Black America behind.
Diversity and inclusion should not be conflated with progressive efforts to defend Black teachers from layoffs and privatization. It is also no antidote for existing discrimination, especially of the racial variety.
Rather, the con of diversity perfects White imperial power and makes the U.S. “exceptional” in its ability to concede “safe spaces” for a minority of Black Americans and other oppressed sections of society within the halls of power. But these halls not only maintain their oppressive character; they become more effective in the oppression and exploitation that they dole out to the masses of people.
Harris and the rest of the Black Misleadership Class, as the beacons of diversity, are always ready to defend the corporate oligarchs who provide the patronage for their existence. The Republican Party and President Donald Trump make their lives easier by throwing racist red meat into the fire whenever a crisis arises.
Harris and Nancy Pelosi are two sides of the same corporate coin, yet Donald Trump’s racism gives them a pass whenever they run into real political trouble.
After Pelosi criticized left-wing Democrats, Trump defended her by demanding that the “gang of four” of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayana Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar “go back where they came from.”
The same week, Harris attempted to match the xenophobia of the president by stating that Colin Kaepernick’s protest against racist policing “wasn’t a thing.” According to Harris, Russian bots spread the Kaepernick story to Black Americans to undermine the Democratic Party.
To Harris, Black America is nothing but a dupe of Russia and anti-racist protest a conniving project of the Russians to implant Trump in the White House.
Both Pelosi and Harris’ political behavior should be enough to raise popular objection. Yet all that occurred was a symbolic vote in the House condemning Trump’s comments as racist. Pelosi and Harris were taken off the hook for attacking the left-leaning representatives of their party.
Cops and AIPAC
Harris embodies the dangers of the diversity trap better than any political candidate in the 2020 election race.
While understandable critique should be leveled on the Trump administration’s Justice Department for failing to bring federal charges to Eric Garner’s murderer in blue, few have mentioned that it was district attorneys and attorneys generals such as Harris who have worked hard to ensure that police murders of Black Americans are not properly investigated and punished.
On the international front, Harris exploited the civil rights movement to pledge her undying loyalty to the apartheid state of Israel. In 2018, a transcript of Harris’ remarks to AIPAC revealed that she equated the struggle for Zionist supremacy in Palestine to the Black struggle against the Klan and White supremacy, despite the fact that Israel has imposed a racist system of colonialism on the Palestinian people for well over half a century.
The ruling class hopes to use diversity and inclusion to kill the Black left’s influence in the 2020 election. Either Harris will be anointed the Democratic Party nominee or Joe Biden will use his connections on Wall Street and with the Black political class to secure it for himself. Either way, the bankrupt leadership that the con of diversity has helped create will play a decisive factor in who gets to challenge Donald Trump for the next term in the Oval Office.
Democratic Party elites claim to be the engine of diversity in America, yet refuse to allow democratic socialists such as Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez to implement policies like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and living wage jobs popular with over 80 percent of the voting base of the party.
Nancy Pelosi, who has made a fortune busting unions, supporting privatization, and peddling wars, has no interest in improving the conditions of poor people, especially the Black poor, in the United States.
Diversity is a sham
Legitimate criticism does not need to fall into the trap of “identity politics” or other right-wing screeds. What is most important to expose is how the so-called enlightened ruling class aligned with the Democratic Party has used diversity to promote a more exceptional America, one where the questions of class, empire, and White supremacy must never be uttered or addressed.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of “American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.