As soon as it was clear that Silicon Valley Bank would not survive the weekend, conservative influencers and Republican politicians had a culprit in sight.
“They were one of the most woke banks,” Representative James Comer, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said during a segment on Fox News.
The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, also spoke to Fox News about the collapse of the bank, and he also blamed the bank’s diversity programs. “I mean, this bank, they’re so concerned with D.E.I. and politics and all kinds of stuff. I think that really diverted from them focusing on their core mission,” he said.
A Saturday headline in The New York Post declared, “While Silicon Valley Bank Collapsed, Top Executive Pushed ‘Woke’ Programs.” And over at The Wall Street Journal, Andy Kessler wondered if “the company may have been distracted by diversity demands.”
On Twitter, a number of prominent conservatives took this message and ran with it. Donald Trump Jr. said that “SVB is what happens when you push a leftist/woke ideology and have that take precedent over common sense business practices.” Stephen Miller, a key White House aide to Donald Trump, accused the bank of wasting its funding on “trendy woke BS.” And Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, complained that “these SVB guys spend all their time funding woke garbage (‘climate change solutions’) rather than actual banking and now want a handout from taxpayers to save them.”
It is unclear whether these conservatives are working from the same memo or just have the same narrow obsession. Regardless, there is no evidence that any diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives were responsible for the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. It is nonsense. And while it shouldn’t be taken seriously on its own terms, this deflection is worth noting for what it represents: the relentless effort to mystify real questions of political economy in favor of endless culture war conflict.
The real story behind the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank has much more to do with the political and economic environment of the previous decade than it does with wokeness, a word that signifies nothing other than conservative disdain for anything that seems liberal. [Continue reading…]