Posted on September 20, 2021

Diversity Days at Veterans Affairs

The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2021

The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to hear from its customers, so to speak, but check your skin color before raising your hand. The VA is holding dozens of “listening sessions” for patients at its medical facilities. Eight cities are being virtually canvassed, with hearings for “racial/ethnic minorities,” “LGBTQ+ veterans,” and so forth. {snip}

At a session on race last week in Augusta, Ga., a woman who described herself as white spoke in favor of inclusive language and safe spaces. “I appreciate your being upfront about the fact that you’re not a person of color yourself,” the VA’s facilitator chided, “because this listening session is for those from racial and ethnic minorities, to give them that kind of safe space.” The woman took the hint and shut up.

{snip} President Biden on Inauguration Day signed an executive order telling each federal agency to do an “equity assessment” within the next 200 days. Hence, the VA set up these conference calls to look for “unmet needs of diverse Veteran populations” and “ways Veterans feel they can be included.” {snip}

Yet in reality, slicing people into narrow identity groups has reduced opportunities for public comment. A hearing in Augusta was canceled when not enough veterans joined. {snip}

Another Augusta call had a quorum but was ended after 10 minutes of dead air. That one was reserved for “religious minorities and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent inequality.” {snip}