The attack on critical race theory — the examination of social, cultural and legal issues as they relate to race and racism — remains a popular rallying cry for Republicans as of late, going all the way up to the government’s highest levels of power.
The latest incident? CNN’s Kristen Holmes has reported that Senate Republicans are now actively delaying approval of President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Personnel Management over concerns that she may have a favorable stance on critical race theory.
According to Holmes, “GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has placed a hold on Kiran Ahuja’s nomination to lead the federal personnel agency ‘because of her history promoting radical critical race theorists.’”
In a statement released to media, Hawley’s spokesperson Kelli Ford said, “These associations merit real scrutiny, especially in light of Ms. Ahuja’s nomination to a role that would allow her to reinstate race-based training sessions throughout the entire federal government.”
Holmes reported that the GOP blocking Ahuja’s nomination “is just the latest flashpoint in a broader conservative effort to push back on critical race theory, which recognizes that systemic racism is part of American society and challenges the beliefs that allow it to flourish.”
Hawley has been critical of Ahuja’s appointment, believing that in her critical role as manager of the entire federal workforce under Biden, she may be able to put her ideas relating to critical race theory to work in the rules and regulations she would pass and approve.
According to Holmes, that kind of fearmongering works within conservative circles because “earlier this year, the President issued an executive order stating that government agencies no longer had to submit their diversity training material to the Office of Personnel Management for approval, as mandated under the previous administration.”
Hawley aggressively questioned Ahuja on critical race theory and diversity training during her confirming hearing in April, laying the groundwork for his current attack on her qualifications.
“The last administration ceased diversity training that contained any elements of what is sometimes called critical race theory. Do you agree with that decision by the prior administration or no?” he asked.
Holmes reported that “while Ahuja said she didn’t know the specifics of the trainings cited, she noted that the trainings she was familiar with ‘have really encouraged understanding people from all walks of life.’”
“Hawley also accused Ahuja of promoting the work of Dr. Ibram Kendi, a professor and anti-racist activist, including the endorsement of an article claiming that former President Donald Trump’s 2016 election in ‘was an example of racist progress,’” Holmes reported. “Ahuja acknowledged she had worked with Kendi and called him a thought leader, but said she had no recollection of the specific article he was referring to, and she herself had not made any similar comments about the election.”
Despite Hawley’s best efforts to derail her nomination, the White House is standing behind its nominee, saying, “Kiran Ahuja is a qualified, experienced and dedicated public servant who we are looking forward to leading the Office of Personnel Management in its work protecting the safety of the workforce, empowering federal employees and building a federal workforce that looks like America.”
While Hawley may have delayed the vote on her approval, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will still be able to advance her nomination to a full vote on the floor, where most political pundits believe she will ultimately be approved for the position.