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Rantz: Survey suggests WA state employees expected to become left-wing, anti-racist activists

Office of Equity Strategic Planning Listening Survey screenshot.

If you want to work for the state of Washington, you better be willing to go on a journey to become an anti-racist, left-wing activist. Otherwise, you may not be welcome as a state employee in the coming months.

The newly-created Office of Equity is asking state employees to fill out a survey on equity. On the surface, it sounds admirable. The survey’s intent is listed as “promoting access to equitable opportunities and resources that reduce disparities and improves outcomes for everyone statewide across state government.” This is misleading.

The goal of the survey is much more political in nature. You are to become an anti-racist activist, defined by taking political positions to advance a progressive agenda. Indeed, Governor Jay Inslee explicitly says the goal is to become “anti-racist” by dismantling systems of oppression.

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WA survey wants you on an anti-racist journey

A rallying cry from left-wing activists is that it’s no longer good enough to be against racism. Instead, you must devote your life to being an anti-racist. Washington state employees are expected to be anti-racists.

The first question of the voluntary survey asks, “Where are you on your anti-racism journey?”

The implication is, of course, that you’re on one. That is the expectation from the state. But if you’re “unsure of where to start” (one of the possible answers to the question), the state will develop ways to become more of an activist.

The survey asks employees to: “Imagine creating an anti-racist Washington state where everyone flourishes and achieves their full potential for the common good: an equitable and just state for all.”

With that in mind, respondents are asked to explain what that might look like, which “disparities need to be eliminated,” and which “opportunity gaps need to be bridged.”

But what if you don’t want to be on an anti-racist journey, as defined by Inslee or the Office of Equity?

Be an anti-racist or don’t fit in

Inslee selected Dr. Karen Johnson to be the state’s first director for the Office of Equity. Why ask about one’s anti-racism journey?

“The Office of Equity asked this survey question to establish a statewide baseline to report on progress made on executive branch commitments articulated in a December 2020 press release issued before this Office was staffed,” Dr. Johnson explained.

I asked her what would happen to employees who did not support being an “anti-racist” as defined by her office.

“I do not know you, yet, [but] infer that you are in the business of seeking and reporting the whole truth,” she wrote back before listing other questions on the survey.

She did not directly answer my question.

Activist expectations

Not everyone believes in systemic racism, especially as defined by many progressive activists.

To be an “anti-racist” in this context, you must take specific action to pursue the state’s specific goals to end what it views as systemically racist. But the state has both conservative and apolitical employees. They also have liberal employees who don’t lean into the progressive wing of the party.

Must state employees adopt these beliefs? If the state deems a policy contributing to systemic racism or inequity, must employees agree? And if they don’t, is it on them to leave the department, or will they be fired?

The Office of Equity offers no answer. Inslee’s office says being “anti-racist” is a goal but not a mandate.

Inslee and others will pretend this work isn’t political, leaning on the inoffensive term “equity” to pretend what they’re doing is about fairness. But we already have guaranteed equal access to opportunities in the state. But this isn’t about access; it’s about outcomes. Inslee and other progressives want equal outcomes, and the only way to get there is with policy shifts. That’s political.

Inslee is creating a workplace where state employees are expected to adopt inherently political positions. These aren’t administration employees who work for a governor to advance a political agenda. These are career employees that are supposed to be inherently apolitical. But Inslee is trying to politicize all the departments. Ironically, it’ll lead to systemic policies that will need to be dismantled and returned to a nonpartisan status.

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler, and like me on Facebook

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