Biden administration political appointees are peddling controversial language about gender and race within the State Department to pivot away from "white male-dominated" diplomacy, a move critics say undermines America's mission abroad.
United Nations ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and other senior State Department staffers bring a fixation on race to diplomacy and their criticisms of America's history and internal agency policies. Multiple senior State Department officials have accused white diplomats of being complicit in systemic racism and said the agency should prioritize the hiring of women and minorities. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the Biden-appointed diversity czar for the State Department, took issue with the "white male-dominated" national security sector in a December podcast and said, "As a woman and as a minority, I was probably better prepared than my male colleagues, certainly my European-American colleagues." She defended her remarks in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon.
"One of the challenges leaders face in the Department as elsewhere is ensuring everyone feels welcomed and valued all the time," Abercrombie-Winstanley said. "The Department’s rigorous entry process ensures America is represented by highly capable diplomats. I believe women and minorities gain these skills early because we must in order to be successful within our own greater American society."
The White House has already altered State Department policies to reflect aspects of critical race theory. President Joe Biden reinstated diversity training materials at the department shortly after taking office. Critics said an overemphasis on identity politics distracts from the major foreign policy challenges America faces from serial human-rights abusers and undermines the State Department's moral standing. Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, told the Free Beacon the use of such rhetoric puts America "on par with dictators, murderers, and thieves," around the world.
"One of America’s greatest diplomatic strengths is the recognition that we are the freest and fairest country in the world," Haley said. "Others aspire to it. Enemies are threatened by it. That’s why it’s so destructive when the Biden administration blames America first and falsely puts us on par with dictators, murderers, and thieves around the world."
Abercrombie-Winstanley is not the only senior Biden appointee who has championed such language. Senior adviser Desirée Cormier Smith criticized white State Department staffers in an October podcast. She told the hosts white diplomats act in an overly "protective" manner and did not want foreigners to "sully the ... perfect shining city on a hill."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said the woke turn from the State Department emboldens America's adversaries, taking focus off of their own human-rights abuses. Russia and China have both used progressive talking points in an effort to undermine confidence in the Biden administration, even as both countries oppress racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities with brutal crackdowns.
"America faces serious challenges, including from nations like China and Russia that seek to undermine our legitimacy abroad and tear us apart at home," Rubio said. "The last thing we need is for the State Department and our nation’s diplomats to be distracted by a woke agenda pushed by far-left political activists."
During Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's tenure, the department experienced an uptick in diversity within its ranks, according to hiring records reviewed by the Free Beacon in 2018. Former foreign service officer and Heritage Foundation fellow James Roberts said the fixation on sex and race at the department limits its perspective on other kinds of diversity, such as class and education. Roberts also said the leftwing bent at the department signals a longterm breakaway from how American diplomacy worked during his own career.
"The Foreign Service has definitely drifted (and been pushed) further to the left since I worked there almost 15 years ago," Roberts said. "I think there is merit to trying to incorporate different perspectives and experiences in the Department of State.... The problem is that these two facets seem to be the only ones that matter to Abercrombie-Winstanley or other advocates for diversity at State."