AMAC Exclusive – By David P. Deavel
Most Americans have looked with horror at the wildfires that have ravaged the island of Maui. The most recent reports count 114 people killed in the blaze—the largest number killed in a U.S. wildfire in over a century. Adding to the horror itself is the way that ideological politics and policy played into this disaster. If you guessed in 2023 that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion played a part in this disaster, you were (sadly) correct. Though the current initials for this false religion are “DEI,” the earlier version used by woke human resources professionals and activists gets at the actual results of its implementation better: “DIE.”
First, though, a nod to those who guessed that left-wing climate-environmental policy was involved in the deadly Hawaiian wildfire: you too were correct. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Hawaiian Electric has known for years that a combination of unsecured power lines, dry brush, and invasive grasses was causing more wildfires. In fact, a 2019 report that the company itself commissioned recommended that the company should address this threat. And it did spend a bit: $245 thousand. This was clearly not enough, but unfortunately, according to the Journal, the company was spending millions of dollars on attempts to meet a 2015 mandate that all power come from “renewable energy” by 2045.
All that money to stop carbon emissions—and the result is the most deaths in a century, massive destruction of property…and all the actual air pollution that comes from massive fires.
But the DIE angle was revealed yesterday in a New York Post article about M. Kaleo Manuel, the now-former deputy director of the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management. It seems that Mr. Manuel, who has waxed eloquent about the “sacred god” water, whose blessings should only be bestowed on the people he purportedly serves after long (you guessed it!) “conversations about equity,” is as good as his word on this point.
Or he was. Like all failed bureaucrats, Manuel was not fired but instead transferred to another part of the Hawaiian Department of Land and Natural Resources. But only after waiting five hours to allow the West Maui Land Company to divert water “to fill landowners’ reservoirs in the hard-hit Lahaina area until the wildfires raged out of control, according to a report.” You see, in the midst of a crisis, Manuel wanted to consult a local farmer about the impact such diversion would have on his farm. Equity and social justice must be served, come hell or high water.
Unfortunately, hellish wildfires don’t wait—or listen to—decisions about equitable fire fighting. As a friend asked sardonically after reading about this, “Yes, but did everyone burn equally?”
This is only the most recent case of the DIE cult being plausibly linked to results that match its name. Do you remember Stockton Rush? He’s the multi-gazillionaire CEO of OceanGate, whose company built a submarine and took five people (including Rush) deep beneath the Atlantic to investigate the Titanic’s remains. As it happens, after the sub disappeared, a Zoom interview with the 61-year-old white male executive resurfaced that showed he had joined the DIE cult.
In the undated interview, Rush reflected on his hiring practices: “When I started the business, one of the things you’ll find, there are other sub-operators out there, but they typically have, uh, gentlemen who are ex-military submariners, and they—you’ll see a whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys.” Ah, a real problem. What he wanted was something “younger,” more “inspirational,” and more “diverse.”
As it so happens, Rush’s crew that died was, apart from a British-Pakistani father and son, was 3/5 old white guys. But what was his company like? Did he hire according to “inspiration” or according to merit? We don’t know for sure, but recent data about the company indicate that Rush wasn’t kidding. Only 20% of employees were over 40 years old, 29% were male, and 31% were white. Perhaps more shocking in a scientific field was that only 8% were Asian. This beat most of the DIE scores in Monterey Bay, California, where the company was headquartered. But Rush is dead and OceanGate no longer exists.
If Rush’s case is ambiguous, the case for DIE’s destructive effects on people’s safety is as crystal clear as that of M. Kaleo Manuel’s—and impacts even more people. George Soros-funded district attorneys and other law enforcement officials have been changing policies for several years because of perceived violations of “social justice” in the DIE vein. They are changing them because high rates of black and Hispanic arrests and convictions as compared to the general population are attributed racism rather than to other possible causes like family and community dysfunction in poor neighborhoods.
As Rafael Mangual of the Manhattan Institute has repeatedly documented, however, these changes in the name of equity have led to more deaths in minority neighborhoods. In 2020 alone, he noted in an article titled “What George Soros Gets Wrong,” homicides rose 30 percent for the nation as a whole, but “the share of white homicide victims actually declined by 2.4 percentage points relative to 2019, while the share of black and Hispanic victims increased by 2.2 percentage points.” The end result was that the “black homicide victimization rate was almost ten times the white rate that year.”
As in criminal justice, so in medicine. This column has paid attention to the recent and deleterious racialization of medical education and medicine. A new report by John Sailer shows that San Diego State University (SDSU) hired a cancer researcher last year, but the hiring materials indicated that the requirement that the candidate demonstrate fealty to the DIE ideology “overshadows what should be the main priority in cancer research—namely, curing cancer.” And SDSU is far from alone. As Sailer observes, many medical research and educational institutions are following the same pattern—in part because the National Institutes of Health have been “doling out almost $250 million for similar DEI-focused hiring programs around the country.”
Perhaps the most egregious example, however, is the application of “equity” to immigration. As Jeffrey Anderson writes in a new article at The American Conservative, it is Joe Biden’s executive order on “equity,” promulgated on his first day in office, that has been the governing principle behind our government’s refusal to enforce our borders. The Department of Homeland Security quoted the executive order’s words about “advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality” in its explanations of its own policies “in the immigration and enforcement context.”
What this has meant is hundreds of thousands of illegal border crossers being released into the U.S. to the detriment of American communities that rarely have the resources to deal with them. This effectively open border policy is drawing even more people from beyond our southern border to make desperate crossings or, worse, traffic women and children across it. And the result is a record number of deaths for crossers last year and a likely breaking of that record this year.
People on the left like to say that those of us on the right are “ginning up panic” about DIE and related topics. Too many people have nodded along to the happy talk that accompanies such ideologies or, worse, started promoting it with no notion of how destructive it is. DIE, it turns out, was a cause of the destructive wildfire on Maui. It is, however, an ideological wildfire of its own, endangering our nation’s unity, the lives of all of us, and especially the people in whose name it is preached.
David P. Deavel teaches at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. Follow him on X (the site formerly known as Twitter) @davidpdeavel.