Category Archives: Racism

Tech was supposed to be a meritocracy. In India, it reinforces old caste divides in new ways

Rest of the World, 1/19/2022  by Raksha Kumar

hen Manoj began his first job at a tech company in Bengaluru in December 2015, he got off to a good start. On his first day, his boss sent him a box of chocolates, and colleagues chatted to him about their connections to his alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

But on the morning of January 20, 2016, something changed. Manoj’s team leader greeted him with a smirk. At lunch, a colleague casually remarked, “I didn’t know you were a reservation guy.”

Within the Indian IT industry, “reservation” is almost a dirty word. It refers to a type of affirmative action in India that provides historically disadvantaged groups, such as oppressed castes, quotas in education and employment, with the aim of increasing their representation.

Manoj had not told his coworkers that he was a Dalit, a member of the most oppressed group in India’s traditional caste system. His colleague’s comment, he realized, must have referred to his recent Facebook post grieving the death of Rohith Vemula, a 26-year-old Dalit student at the University of Hyderabad, who had died by suicide in mid-January, following struggles with caste prejudice on campus. Manoj had concluded the post saying: “Vemula’s fate could be any one of ours.”

When his colleague referred to him as a “reservation guy,” it was not just because Manoj was supportive of the quotas for oppressed castes but because he had revealed himself to be a beneficiary of such quotas too. After that day, “I felt like a fish out of water,” Manoj said. “It was my first job, and I got a taste of what the tech industry was like.”

Manoj quit that company a few months later and currently works at a multinational tech corporation in Bengaluru. He requested anonymity for this story because his company contract forbids him from speaking to the media.

Such discrimination — sometimes subtle and sometimes direct — is rampant in India’s estimated $194 billion tech industry, according to 35 tech industry workers that Rest of World spoke to for this story. Many of them were hesitant to share their stories publicly for fear of backlash at their workplaces or a negative impact on their future career prospects.

Yet the idea of caste-based discrimination is rarely discussed in the Indian tech sector. “Caste discrimination is felt at a deeper level,” said Dhruva, a tech worker from a disadvantaged caste who works at a large edtech firm and was also granted anonymity for this story. “One need not say anything, but small actions, intonation, or even body language emit bias against the disadvantaged castes in the workplace.”

“In India, working in the IT sector means one can rise up the economic ladder within the same generation.”

In India, caste is traditionally linked to professions; those who were born into a specific caste did a particular kind of job. Those considered to be lowest on this ladder, the Dalits, were relegated to doing “dirty” work, such as manual scavenging, and were pejoratively called “untouchables.” After India gained independence in 1947, the government introduced a reservation system to give Dalits, known officially as Scheduled Castes (SC), and indigenous communities, known as Scheduled Tribes (ST), greater access to education and government jobs. In the early 1990s, the country expanded the reservation system to include the middle castes, known as Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

As a result, opportunities in government employment for the dominant castes (or “General Category,” who make up about 30% of the general population) shrunk from approximately 73% to about 50%. “This pushed the dominant castes towards the rapidly growing IT industry, which was slowly coming out of the clutches of the government,” said Amandeep Sandhu, tech writer and author. “The sector still remains largely unregulated.”

Most IT companies in India are privately owned and are not required to comply with the government’s affirmative action policies. This cemented the view that entry into the tech industry was purely based on individual capability and that factors such as religion, gender, and caste were irrelevant. Given its close links to U.S. companies, the IT sector came with the promise of creating a level playing field where people could succeed solely on merit.

But in reality, tech did not make the world flatter. Instead, caste hierarchies replicated themselves within the industry. One 2011 report on caste in the Indian IT sector concludes “that caste is not disappearing from Indian society; rather, it is dramatically adapting to modern circumstances.”

IT, which employed nearly 4.5 million people in spring 2021, accounted for 8% of India’s GDP in 2020. “In India, working in the IT sector means one can rise up the economic ladder within the same generation,” said Murali Shanmugavelan, a faculty fellow at Data and Society, a non-profit research organization. Tech jobs are therefore highly sought-after.

There is no widely collected data that tracks diversity in the Indian IT industry when it comes to caste or other identifiers.

It was in fact a case in the U.S., rather than India, that recently brought the issue to the world’s attention. In June 2020, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against American tech conglomerate Cisco alleging discrimination against an Indian Dalit engineer — listed as “John Doe” in the complaint — over his caste. The engineer, who had immigrated from India to the U.S., alleged that two of his dominant caste co-workers, also Indian immigrants, harassed him. In fall 2021, the case was voluntarily dismissed, and was later refiled at the state level, where it is still ongoing.

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But even as the case makes headlines in the U.S., the tech industry in India remains quiet on caste bias. Anil Wagde is a member of the Ambedkar International Center, a U.S.-based organization which advocates for democracy in Indian society and which was admitted as an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” in the Cisco case. He suggests that caste has seeped into the Indian psyche so much that unless something drastic happens, no one takes note. “No one cries for those who die every day,” he told Rest of World.

In addition, “many people are blind to their privilege,” said Carol Upadhya, professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru.

The barriers for historically oppressed castes to enter the tech industry start early. Access to quality primary education is not uniform across all communities. Those at the top of the caste hierarchy are mostly economically better off and can afford English-language schools, with better faculty and facilities, whereas many poorer people are schooled in regional languages, said Rajesh Ramachandran, senior lecturer at Monash University, Malaysia. This means that many dominant caste children get a head start.

Dalit engineering Ph.D. student Jyoti Lavania and her brother were first-generation graduates in their family. “Let alone coach me on how to enter IT, no one in my family could help me with basic mathematics or English during my school years,” she said. Her parents had struggled through secondary school. This is true of many Dalit families, explained Prashant Tambe, a social activist who founded an IT and commerce college called Modern College in Nagpur. “Many are first-generation literates; they have no help at home,” Tambe said.

Faced with such difficulties, many Dalits settle for non-engineering degrees. “A B.A. or a B.Com. [Bachelor of Commerce] can be done in their own language, at a college that is easily accessible to them,” Tambe said. (Engineering degrees are largely taught in English.)

“Many are first-generation literates, they have no help at home.”

Technology colleges are often set up in urban areas, which means those living in villages have to commute long distances to access them. Though most engineering colleges offer residential courses, they are out of reach for students from poorer backgrounds, not to mention that a technology degree is costlier — approximately three times more expensive than a B.A., for instance.

Reservations, which mean that schools or colleges must accept a certain number of Dalit students each year, were designed to ensure greater opportunities amid such inequalities. But the system doesn’t always work as intended.

The prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology, or IITs, come under the government mandated quota of 27% reservation for OBCs and 15% and 7.5% for SCs and STs, respectively. But this does not necessarily ensure diversity at these elite institutions.

In December 2020, in response to a Right To Information application filed by student organization Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle, IIT Bombay said 11 departments – including four engineering departments – at the institute did not admit a single student belonging to Scheduled Tribes between 2015 and 2019. Two departments did not admit any SC students at all. IIT Bombay did not respond to a request for comment.

Admission into an IIT is seen as a ticket to a “better” life, as these colleges are ranked among the top engineering institutes globally and attract the top recruiters from across the world each year. But even if Dalit students overcome the challenges of their early education to get into an IIT, they often deal with resentment and caste prejudice.

According to a documentary organized by a student group, 18 Dalit students in premier institutes of higher education in India died by suicide between 2007 and 2011 after being victims of caste-based discrimination.

In 2021, a video of an associate professor at IIT Kharagpur verbally harassing reservation students in a preparatory class sparked outrage about how minorities are treated in India’s elite institutions.

Wagde, who was admitted to the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta in 1996, said one professor suspected that his original contribution to a key project was not his own. “They could not believe a reservation candidate could do well,” he said.

When students from less privileged backgrounds manage to cross the multiple hurdles in higher education, they hit the next roadblock: securing jobs.

“They could not believe a reservation candidate could do well.”

“Since Hindu upper castes constitute almost 67% of engineering and technology graduates, it would not be surprising to find that upwards of 70% of the IT workforce are upper caste,” wrote Carol Upadhya in her 2007 paper “Employment, Exclusion and ‘Merit’ in the Indian IT Industry.” Most reputed companies visit only premier engineering colleges for campus recruitments, and the interviews include written tests and group discussions in English.

“I was asked to speak about demonetization during my group discussion,” said Varun, who graduated in 2021 and works in a small software firm based in Gurugram. “I froze for several minutes, unable to speak.” Varun, who requested anonymity because his company policy forbids him from speaking to the media, studied in an engineering college in the northern Indian state of Haryana. It is not that he was unaware that Prime Minister Narendra Modi – in an attempt to curb ‘black money’ – had banned 86% of the country’s banknotes in November 2016; however, he was more familiar with the Hindi terms for demonetization — notebandi or vimudrikaran. “If they had asked me to talk about notebandi, I was capable of giving them a speech for hours,” he said.

After the group discussion, there are personal interviews. When Tambe, who would later found Modern College, conducted interviews, he “personally invited students from oppressed castes to come to the interview,” he said. “Almost 90% don’t turn up for interviews, as they fear their English-language skills are not up to the mark.”

For senior roles, alumni networks and other connections become useful. Most hiring managers are from premier institutions, and they tend to look for graduates from similar institutions, said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director of U.S.-based Dalit civil rights organization Equality Labs. “If you have crossed paths with them in their careers somewhere, they trust you more,” she said.

In older industries, family ties, village bonds, and caste have long played a role in securing jobs. The IT sector claims to have ushered in merit-based hiring instead of nepotistic practices. “But, if the tech industry largely limits itself to urban, English-speaking, upwardly mobile recruits, they have just repackaged older forms of nepotism,” said Data and Society’s Shanmugavelan.

Most tech recruitment happens through referrals, said Vinod A.J., the general secretary of the All India Forum for IT Employees, adding that “this is how people from the same communities climb up the ladder.”

However, if the tables are turned and a Dalit specifically recruits Dalits, it is not received the same way. Chandru (who requested anonymity as he is not authorised by his company to speak to media), who was born to a Dalit family, has a senior management position in one of the top software companies in India and set out to hire six people for their office in the central city of Pune. “I got referrals from people I trust and recruited them based on their abilities,” said Chandru.

Senior management in his firm was furious that the six people he recruited were Dalit, Chandru said. Six months later, when their probationary period was over, Chandru said that all six were asked to leave. Rest of World has sought a response from the company in question.

Even within tech companies that hire a more diverse staff, a stratification of roles has manifested. “While graduates from the IITs and other premier institutions land the best jobs [in multinational corporations and the more challenging technical jobs in reputed companies], those from tier-two and -three colleges tend to be slotted into the more routine and low-end jobs,” Upadhya wrote in her study. For instance, several of the large Indian software services companies prefer to hire students from tier-three campuses rather than from the top-ranking colleges. As one HR manager put it to Upadhya, they require “guys who can just sit and code and not ask questions.”

Take into account the support staff, said Tambe, who is currently conducting a diversity study for a multinational tech firm, and a different picture emerges. “Count the drivers, cleaners, housekeeping staff etc.,” he specified, “and the numbers of Dalit and Adivasi (Scheduled Tribes) recruits will increase.”

Even after having overcome the many obstacles in education and hiring by getting a position in a tech company, employees from oppressed castes can still face discrimination.

Hemant, an employee at a pharma tech company, used to work at a Chennai-based software firm whose leadership was predominantly Brahmin — those at the top of the caste hierarchy. “My surname can pass off as a Tamil Brahmin surname, so I wouldn’t know if I faced positive discrimination because of that in my last company,” he said, speaking anonymously because his current company still has business ties with his previous employer. “The only time they found out about my caste was when we went out for team lunches and I ate nonvegetarian food.” Many dominant caste communities follow vegetarianism. Hemant said he was not ostracized because of his food choices, but he could sense that his colleagues perceived him differently from then on. “I was not a part of the pack anymore,” he said. His coworkers began having team lunches without him.

“I would have gone to the HR, but his relative was running the department.”

In the north Indian city of Noida, Shilpa, also speaking anonymously, worked in a family-run technology firm for six months. During this time, her boss made lewd comments and often came uncomfortably close to her. “I would have gone to the HR, but his relative was running the department,” she said.

Shilpa felt that the sexual harassment she experienced was partly due to the fact that she belonged to an oppressed caste. Dalit women face a double whammy of discrimination, as they carry the burden of both caste and gender bias, said Soundararajan. According to the most recent figures from India’s National Crime Records Bureau, about 10 Dalit women are raped every day in India, and the number of offenses that go unreported is estimated to be much higher.

Shilpa quit the job, unable to tolerate the harassment. “I left IT for two years, until I could get the courage to go back,” she said.

Even among those who avoid direct harassment, several professionals told Rest of World they felt their caste was an impediment to their career growth. “I know I’m not progressing in my current company because I am out as a Dalit,” said Ravi (not his real name), who works in a Hyderabad-based technology firm. “From day one, I place an image of Dr. Ambedkar and my social media is open.” Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, one of the primary authors of the Indian Constitution, was a Dalit.

As a result, many Dalit tech workers face a difficult choice of how much to reveal about their caste identity. For Ravi, there is no real option. “I have lived the other way, too, where you are hidden. You can progress that way, but your spirit regresses,” he said. “This way I may have a smaller life, but at least I have my integrity. I know my teammates tolerate me, but I will never be one of them.”


Why the New York Times rewrites history

UnHerd, 11/16/2021  by Ashley Rindsberg

In the world of infotainment, every media brand needs its star. And nowhere is that more true than with one of today’s most influential outlets, the New York Times. In the space of just five years, the Times has succeeded in propelling its stellar asset, Nikole Hannah-Jones, to the rarified heights of celebrity journalism, lending her magnum opus, the 1619 Project, a sanctified glow. But just over two years since 1619 was launched, all that threatens to come tumbling down: the Project has become tainted by a series of errors and inaccuracies — some of which seem to have been committed wilfully.

There’s something uniquely fascinating about the persona of the journalist who betrays his or her professional ethics. There is no medical malpractitioner of historic notoriety, no lawyer so inept or corrupt that their infamy elicits international derision a century later. In fact, it might be only in the field of espionage that we find a parallel. The reason is that, like a nation’s spies, a citizenry loans journalists its most precious asset: trust. This is even more true in secular societies where social institutions take on the characteristics of religious bodies, guiding belief and shaping public perception of reality.

In this context, no American journalist has endured the same level of historical contempt as Hannah-Jones’s most notorious New York Times predecessor, Walter Duranty. One of the reasons Duranty’s name still echoes in the halls of ignominy is because his betrayal was of such an epic nature. He was not only the Times’s top Russia correspondent during the most important period of Russian-American relations in a century (namely, the very early days of the Soviet regime) but a celebrity intellectual.

Duranty’s star had risen so high that when the United States government officially recognised the Soviet Union in 1934, he was chosen to accompany its soon-to-be ambassador to the US — and escorted the newly minted American ambassador from DC back to Moscow. Indeed, it was Duranty himself who had advised Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then at the end of his presidential campaign, that US recognition of the new Soviet regime was the correct course of action.

But that was no shock. Three years earlier, around the time that international headlines were beginning to report on a famine unfolding in the Ukraine, Duranty had reported the very opposite. It wasn’t simply that he downplayed the famine, which Robert Conquest estimated killed upward of five million people in two years; he actively denied it.

What’s often missed when discussing Duranty, however, is the intentional nature of his malfeasance. When the Times came under pressure from the Ukrainian-American community in the early Noughties to return the “Duranty Pulitzer”, the paper’s publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., went against the recommendation of a historian hired by the Times to assess the matter. The historian recommended (unsurprisingly) that the Times should return the prize. Sulzberger refused, chalking Duranty’s cover-up to nothing more than “slovenly” reporting.

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But Duranty, an Oxford-educated polyglot, was anything but slovenly. The truth of the matter could be far more disturbing, and can be found in a statement Duranty had made years earlier. In June 1931, while visiting the US embassy in Berlin to renew his passport, Duranty made a remark to a State Department official so significant that the official recorded it verbatim and entered it into the State Department record: “In agreement with the New York Times and the Soviet authorities,” Duranty told the American diplomat, “[Duranty’s] official dispatches always reflect the official opinion of the Soviet government and not his own.”

We might be tempted to think that a correspondent of a previous century would have little to do with the most celebrated journalist of the present day. Certainly, it is inconceivable that anything can compare with Duranty’s attempts to deny the Ukraine famine — and the deaths that followed. But the parallels between Duranty and Nikole Hannah-Jones seem hard to ignore. Like Duranty, Hannah-Jones has become the New York Times’s marquee reporter, her public profile taking on celebrity proportions. Hannah-Jones, like Duranty, is as often the subject of headlines as the creator of them. And, of course, there’s the Pulitzer Prize both she and Duranty won relatively early in their respective careers. But perhaps more than any of these factors, the tone and tenor of the subject matter each reporter covered set the stage for a spectacular rise and, at least in Duranty’s case (for now), an equally precipitous fall.

In her first major piece for the New York Times Magazine, where she was a staff writer, Hannah-Jones focused on school segregation — and did so through the lens of her own experience as a mother of a school-aged child. The 2016 article, “Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City”, placed Hannah-Jones herself squarely at the centre of the all-encompassing topic of race relations in America.

The 10,000-word piece launched Hannah-Jones into that rare elite which consists of reporters who become the focus of a larger reportorial arc. Just a week after it was published, the Times covered Hannah-Jones in an article that was part of a “Times Insider” series. Called “‘Surreal’: A Reporter Is in the Center of a Story She Covered”, the piece was written in the first person by Hannah-Jones and offered a look into the sausage factory of producing a culturally resonant piece for the New York Times. By October 2017, the Times was trumpeting Hannah-Jones in rockstar-like terms, running pieces about her with headlines such as “The Best of Nikole Hannah-Jones”.

And then came 1619, which made her as close to a household name as a journalist can in America. From an Oprah-backed film and TV production deal to appearances on NPR’s Fresh Air and The Daily Show, a talk with Moonlight creator Barry Jenkins to a 1619 book and accompanying children’s book, Hannah-Jones experienced the dazzling embrace of America’s corporate culture machine.

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Crucially, like that of Walter Duranty, Hannah-Jones’s celebrity has had the effect of coating her journalism with a lacquer which shields it from the buffeting forces of criticism. What unites that criticism, from both sides of the political aisle, is something fundamental to any work of journalism: accuracy. While some conservative outlets have attacked the 1619 Project on ideological grounds, the dozens of academics and many journalists who joined the debate intoned with a simple and hard-to-dislodge idea: the 1619 Project was not simply factually flawed, but deliberately, as Phillip Magness, one of the Project’s most vocal critics, put it, it amounts to “the sacrifice of scholarly standards in the service of the ideological objective”.

In the New York Times Magazine issue dedicated to the 1619 Project, there are the subtle but significant problems, such as the mischaracterisation of America’s early economy, which the Project emphasises was built on slavery, when, according to scholars who participated in the debate, slavery played a relatively minor role compared to the Northern industrial and commercial economy. Then there are the arguments that, when taken at face value, are simply absurd, such as the causal connection the Project draws between slavery and modern-day traffic jams in Atlanta or America’s love of sugary treats.

It’s the deeper claims of the Project, however, and specifically those made by Hannah-Jones herself, which are the most problematic — and which most closely tie Hannah-Jones to Duranty. The publication of a piece by Politico by Leslie Harris, a professor of African American history at Northwestern University, months after the 1619 Project was launched, identified the rot at the heart of the Project: “On August 19 of last year I listened in stunned silence as Nikole Hannah-Jones, a reporter for the New York Times, repeated an idea that I had vigorously argued against with her fact-checker: that the patriots fought the American Revolution in large part to preserve slavery in North America.”

This claim, that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery is the fulcrum on which Hannah-Jones’s argument swings. The reason is that the 1619 Project was not simply predicated on the the idea that slavery was of consequence to American history; that is a claim most (if not all) of the Project’s most vociferous critics would not have objected to. Instead, the thesis of the 1619 Project is that America is rooted in slavery. In pursuing this mission, what Hannah-Jones attempted to do is not simply “reframe” American history (as one of the introductions to the 1619 Project claimed) but rework reality.

It’s this attempt to edit history that most closely unites Hannah-Jones’s project with that of Walter Duranty. In both cases, historical realities were tarred over in order to make way for a new narrative. But beyond the personal failings of Duranty and Hannah-Jones, there is a larger and more significant connection between the two journalists. And that, of course, is the New York Times.

It is no coincidence that two largely successful attempts to alter history and edit reality have been carried out under the aegis of the New York Times. While Duranty and Hannah-Jones took centre stage, the platform essential to each was provided by America’s self-described paper of record.

As with any corporate-backed endeavour, a costly investment such as 1619 is undertaken only when there is a likely outcome of commensurately rich rewards. This is what we so often miss about major corporate news organisations such as the Times, which is far less significantly a newsroom built on a system of editorial practices than it is a reputation, a social construct, that produces trust — as well as a business mechanism that monetises that trust and processes it into power.

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This model applies equally to the denial of the Ukraine Famine and the creation of the 1619 Project. The case of the former is explained by the drive to be positioned at the very centre of the swirl of power, influence and profit presented by the nascent, rapidly industrialising economic power of the Soviet Union that was quickly modernising the agrarian economy of tsarist Russia. The USSR was a massive market of 150 million people that for nearly two decades since the revolution had been restricted to US corporate interests.

With the 1619 Project, the New York Times’s business interests are just as decisive a factor. The Times’s management is well aware that it has to replace its audience of ageing liberals with young adherents of progressive ideologies impassioned enough to pay for the digital subscriptions that are at the heart of its business model. For the Times, this is a matter of existential significance. As a New York Times Company vice president has explained, one of the aims of 1619 is, according to NiemanLab, to “convince more of its 150 million monthly readers to pay for a subscription”.

This makes good sense considering that over a third of the Times‘s revenue now comes from digital subscriptions — and nearly two-thirds of the Times’s American audience is made up of millennial and Gen Z readers. Print subscriptions, meanwhile, are in “steady decline”; advertising is falling by close to (and sometimes more than) double digits each year.

Like all dynasties, the Sulzbergers, the billionaire family that controls the New York Times, are, in part, motivated by financial self-interest. But in the current cultural environment, where a movement of ideological upheaval is at work, it is power as much as money that lies behind what is the most significant journalistic endeavour of the past decade. The Times’s progressive turn (like that of so many American brands) is more top-down than bottom-up; it is a quest for influence rather than principle. The Times knows which way the wind is blowing and in a raging storm why not sail downwind?

The only problem with this approach — in business as much as in life — is that it doesn’t work. As Captain MacWhir in Joseph Conrad’s novella The Typhoon shouts through the raging storm to the story’s young protagonist: “They may say what they like, but the heaviest seas run with the wind.” In its cynical embrace of progressive politics, the Times runs the risk of capsizing in storm waters it mistakenly believes it can control.

The same may well be true about Nikole Hannah-Jones. To her credit, unlike Walter Duranty, Nikole Hannah-Jones does not appear to be a passenger enjoying the cushy ride of celebrity. From all appearances, she is a true believer who is not just willing but eager to make the necessary sacrifices to bring about her vision of justice in the world. Whether that makes her more or less problematic than Duranty, only time will tell.[0]=18743&tl_period_type=3&mc_cid=404f4f7dfc&mc_eid=0ff3e7ea29


The Ambassador of Blame America First

What a shame to America, to have this kind of ambassador representing us. mrossol

WSJ  4/15/21 By  The Editorial Board

Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks to the reporters at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, March 31.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations is supposed to speak for American values and interests. But judging by her recent remarks, new Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is going to speak mainly about the faults of her own country.

President Biden’s Ambassador spoke Wednesday to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, and her recitation of America’s sins could have come from China’s Global Times. She said one of her priorities will be addressing racial injustice and spoke of her own experience with discrimination.

Fair enough, but then she kept going: “I shared these stories and others to acknowledge, on the international stage, that I have personally experienced one of America’s greatest imperfections. I have seen for myself how the original sin of slavery weaved white supremacy into our founding documents and principles.”

How about American progress on race since the founding, such as the Civil War that ended slavery or the civil-rights movement? Ms. Thomas-Greenfield has other ideas.

“Racism is the problem of the racist. And it is the problem of the society that produces the racist. And in today’s world, that is every society,” she added. “In America, that takes many forms. It’s the white supremacy that led to the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black Americans. It’s the spike in hate crimes over the past three years—against Latino Americans, Sikh and Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, and immigrants. And it’s the bullying, discrimination, brutality, and violence that Asian Americans face everyday, especially since the outbreak of Covid-19.”


Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield managed to work in a passing reference to Burma’s treatment of the Rohingya and China’s “genocide” of the Uighurs. But she put the Biden Administration’s decision to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council—with members like Cuba, China, Russia, Venezuela—largely in the context of the moral equivalence of the U.S. and those offenders.

We can only imagine what the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick, a pair of Democrats who were ambassadors to the U.N. in the 1970s and 1980s, would think of this. They made a contribution by speaking up for human rights in the Soviet Union and other countries where rights were trampled as a matter of official policy. Ms. Thomas-Greenfield seems to believe her job is to bring critical race theory to the world, with a special focus on criticizing her own country.