As the U.S. government swooped in to not bail out Silicon Valley Bank, many on the right suspected they had found the culprit behind the bank’s collapse: diversity.
California regulators took over SVB, a major tech start-up lender, on Friday after customers began withdrawing their money from the bank en masse. Just two days earlier, as funds dwindled due to high interest rates and low investments, SVB had sold securities at a nearly $2 billion loss and then failed to recoup its losses.
The reasons for the bank’s collapse are well known and widely acknowledged, but that hasn’t stopped right-wingers from pointing their fingers at another specter.
“In its proxy statement, SVB notes that besides 91% of their board being independent and 45% women, they also have ‘1 Black,’ ‘1 LGBTQ+’ and ‘2 Veterans.’ I’m not saying 12 white men would have avoided this mess, but the company may have been distracted by diversity demands,” Wall Street Journal opinion writer Andy Kessler mused Sunday.
Multiple Fox News hosts blamed the collapse on women and LGBTQ people. Tucker Carlson said SVB focused too much on “pioneering glass-ceiling-shattering women,” while Pete Hegseth said the senior vice president of risk management was too “heavily focused” on LGBTQ inclusion programs.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has said he intends to dismantle diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI, programs on state college campuses, charged SVB was “so concerned with DEI and politics” that it “diverted them from focusing on their core mission.”
Far-right commentator Charlie Kirk and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy both said DEI initiatives were behind the bank’s collapse. Ramaswamy also blamed environmental, social, and governance factors.
Former Trump administration members Donald Trump Jr. and Stephen Miller accused SVB of being too “woke.”
SVB’s collapse is the latest instance of diversity being used as an irrational scapegoat. Having a more diverse board of directors is obviously not to blame. If anything, the blame falls on the state and federal regulators who failed to see what was going wrong and step in earlier, Karen Petrou, a managing partner at the consulting firm Federal Financial Analytics, told NPR’s Marketplace.
But Republicans have lately been blaming all crises on diversity as a way to try and argue against DEI initiatives. Just last week, Georgia Representative Mike Collins insisted that focusing too much on DEI is what led to the Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio.