• June 20, 2021

Exclusive: GOP paranoia delays confirmation of first Indian-American federal personnel director

 Exclusive: GOP paranoia delays confirmation of first Indian-American federal personnel director


Kimberlé Crenshaw, a founder of critical race theory, defined it in an interview with CNN as “an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what’s in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it.” If it sounds like the kind of logical conclusion any person who’s familiar with the fact that slavery lasted about 400 years should be able to come to, that’s because it is. 

Far be it from Hawley to embrace logic. Remember, this is the guy who floated hope that former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud could lead to overturning his election loss. Hawley pushed against logic intensely in questioning Ahuja at her confirmation hearing in April. He asked her about training sessions employees in the executive branch were required to attend last September, during which attendees were told “virtually all white people contribute to racism” and were required to say “they benefit from racism.” Hawley said that and other ideas are “deeply divisive, amount to left-wing indoctrination, and really are attempts to divide the American people, in this case federal employees along the lines of race. He asked Ahuja, who was chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management, if she was involved in creating or organizing the trainings, and Ahuja said “no” but she’s seen diversity and inclusion trainings being used more broadly in the country. 

“The last administration ceased diversity training that contained any elements of what is sometimes called critical race theory. Do you agree with that decision by the prior administration or no?” Hawley asked. I suppose she couldn’t say no, the last administration’s devotion to white supremacy far outranked its grip on the reality of racism in this country. So she instead explained that she doesn’t know about the specific trainings cited but she’s familiar with diversity and inclusion trainings that “have really encouraged understanding people from all walks of life.”

Hawley, apparently not getting the endorsement of critical race theory he was hoping for, switched lines of questioning to Ahuja’s work with anti-racist activist Dr. Ibram Kendi. The senator asked if she supported Kendi’s claim in an article that the 2016 election “was an example of racist progress.” Ahuja again said she doesn’t recall the article Hawley quoted and called Kendi “a thought leader” when it pertains to how to achieve greater equity in communities of color. When Hawley pushed her again on whether she thinks the 2016 election “was an example of racist progress,” Ahuja told the senator she hasn’t made any statement like that and wouldn’t. “And so no I can’t speak to that particular opinion that Dr. Kendi has made,” she said.

Hawley refused to drop his quest to reveal a critical race theorist in Ahuja during the hearing and after it, the senator continuing to ride a wave of GOP opposition to the race theory. Hawley and other Republicans objected to a speedy vote for Ahuja’s confirmation, which will ultimately force Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to use a lengthier process that is abnormal for low-profile positions, The Washington Post reported. Ahuja will likely be confirmed in a split vote along party lines, but Republican stalling could mean that doesn’t happen before the Senate recess at the end of June. “Democrats sought to fast-track a vote, but Senator Hawley believes adequate debate time and full Senate consideration is needed for this nominee,” Ford wrote in a statement to the Post. 

Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, told The Washington Post the vacancy in what would be Ahuja’s position is already “slowing things down” and compounding already problematically slow hiring processes to recruit a diverse workforce. “You have four years,” Stier said, “and we’re losing a big chunk of time.”

RELATED: Republicans rush to ban ‘critical race theory,’ but they keep dropping hints about the real goal

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