By Richard Sullins | email@example.com
Kirk Smith, the Republican chairman of the Lee County Board of Commissioners, recently declined an invitation to attend a diversity conference set for this week in Sanford, saying the principles it will promote are “solely based on Marxist ideology.”
Smith, as well as the rest of the board of commissioners and members of the Sanford City Council and the Lee County Board of Education, had been invited by the “Let’s Do It Together Foundation, Inc.” of Sanford to attend the conference, planned for March 22 at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.
The Foundation is an outgrowth of work done by the Sanford Equity Taskforce during the earliest days of the COVID pandemic in Lee County in 2020 and 2021. The group was assembled by then-Mayor Chet Mann and charged with identifying community needs and recommending solutions that it considered to be mission critical to the health and well-being of the city that more than 30,000 people call home. During its work, the group’s focus expanded further to include all of Lee County.
The agenda for the gathering that will take place this week advertises discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and teaching sessions that center on issues that involve inclusive leadership. Community Connector and Sanford attorney Jeannette Peace said this training comes at an opportune moment as the county continues to experience rapid industrial growth.
“We are attracting companies from all over the world and this conference will provide tools to help create a culture where all individuals are valued,” she wrote to the county’s leadership.
Smith claims DEI message is Trojan Horse
But Smith saw Peace’s invitation in a very different light.
Smith responded in a four-paragraph email to Peace on February 23. The chairman wasted no time in getting to the point of why he was declining the invitation.
“The premise of D.I.E. is solely based on Marxist ideology,” he wrote. “D.I.E. condones discrimination based on nefarious physiological and psychological differences without any decisions based on competence, qualifications, or merit.”
His email offered no explanation for his changing of the movement’s acronym from “DEI” to “DIE,” aside from saying that it more accurately reflects the “‘Divisive, Incompetent, and Elusive’ factors that we see fully on display in Washington, DC.”
Smith went on to assert, without including evidence, that the Biden administration has fully embraced the DEI message through political patronage appointments.
“We see the incompetence on display as we watch the White House Spokeswoman, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Assistant Secretary of Health, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy, a Supreme Court Justice (Ketanji Brown Jackson), and a recent appointment to a Federal Judge seat who could not answer basic Constitutional questions. All of the above were selected based on D.I.E. and not their qualifications,” he concluded.
Peace replied to Smith with an assurance that the event was not designed to promote Marxist economic or political principles, and that any notion that “competence, qualification, and merit” have no place with models that support diversity, equity, and inclusion is false.
“When you tout competence, qualifications or merit as the yardstick for decision making, it would appear that not ALL decisions are based on those criteria,” she wrote, pointing to cabinet-level appointments made by former President Donald Trump of a noted philanthropist and a neurosurgeon that failed to translate to success in the way they led two very large government bureaucracies during his administration. “So, when you tout competence, qualifications, or merit as the yardstick for decision making, it would appear that not ALL decisions are based on those criteria.”
Then, Peace moved her attention to a recent local example that concerned a controversial $500,000 grant to a local church group that Smith supported.
“I would also note that the board that (Smith) lead almost unanimously voted to fund an organization, with one-half million dollars, that had limited experience, incomplete credentials, and questionable judgment. Hence, standing on a platform that boasts of decision making based solely on ‘competence, qualification or merit’ when favoritism is known to exist, is shaky ground,” she wrote.
Peace said the need for this type of training is greater than ever before in Lee County because of “the recruiting of companies from all over the world” such as Bharat Forge and VinFast “who bring their own culture, value systems and beliefs into our community.”
“This conference does not seek to further nor challenge political or economic systems that are in place,” Peace concluded. “Rather, we seek to create a culture where our neighbors and co-workers are free to be different, yet treated with care, consideration, and respect. Even when we do not agree, we can respectfully value each other’s opinions.”
Smith told The Rant he stands by every word in his original email to Peace.
“My reference to Marxist Ideology is simple,” he said via email. “Karl Marx introduced Critical Theory – dividing one class against another. You know the maxim, ‘the rich need to pay their fair share.’ Derrick Bell introduced Critical Race Theory (CRT), pitting one race against another: whites (as) irredeemable racist oppressors and people of color (as) the oppressed. The Black Lives Matter movement, founded by self-professed Marxists, used their organization to shake down major corporations using ‘white guilt.’ Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DIE) is the enforcement arm of CRT. The high priest of CRT is Ibram X. Kendi, who stated, ‘The only remedy for present discrimination is future discrimination.’ What a horrible ideology – destroying Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ We now supplant that dream with the persistent nightmare of CRT, DEI, and soon ESG (environmental, social, and governance – a movement of forward-thinking leadership that looks ahead to the long-term).
So many big words meaning what ?
Meaning he doesn’t like brown people and thinks they want to somehow unfairly discriminate against him, a white man literally elected into power.
To anyone who hasn’t watched a lot of Fox News, Smith sounds like he’s having a stroke. But what he is really saying is that he is against anything to the left of White Nationalism. And that is not acceptable. Hopefully all this new growth can dilute the votes of whoever it is who voted for this guy. It can not happen fast enough.
District 2 voted him in. Next election is not until 2026.
Agreed, I did not vote for him , he seems off in more ways than one !
I feel quite sure Kirk Smith has never read a book by Marx. But I can tell who he’s been listening to.
Justs when I thought it couldn’t get worse here in Sanford, here comes Kirk Smith with more radical right wing nonsense. Bradley got it right when he said he is sure Smith never read Karl Marx because he doesn’t understand what Marxism is….
The 2026 election cannot come soon enough, come on District 2 you can do better!
If that isn’t far right extremist views, I don’t know what is. It’s like he pulled those words straight off the “Stormfront” website.
Let’s don’t wait on the 2026 election! We have a City Council election THIS year, 2023, where three seats will be decided. We must ensure our City Council is not further impacted by the same type of divisive ideologies championed by Commissioner Smith and others.
Apparently Ms. Rhodes isn’t smart enough to know how many elections there are this year. Horrible….
Apparently Ms Rhodes-who was elected less than a year ago has yet to figure out who is running this fall? Horrible….
SMITH ARE DISGRACE UNITED States OF AMERICA,NORTH CAROLINA, LEE COUNTY
“Diversity Inclusion and Equity” simply mean anti-white and anti-straight discrimination.
They’ll tart it up and lie to your face about what it “really” means, but the simple truth is it’s about elevating people based on skin color and bizarre sexual preferences rather than merit.
Please Stop Drinking the Kool-Aid, VC -your claim is simply false, watch some real news, get off FaceBook and Fox Noise!
Karen,, VC is absolutely correct. You cannot show any proof that people of color and sexual orientation are not promoted based SOLELY on that criteria. Allow me to explain,
I was told by my boss that I HAD to hire a trans-person because we are ” a diverse company and extend all opportunities equally.” Explain to me how the hell I’m supposed to do that. Do I go through the resumes and ask them ” well you see to meet all the essential qualifications for the job, but are you trans?” First off it’s none of my business if they are or not. Secondly, I was told that I HAD to hire someone based solely on that criteria alone. If i can find a person who meets that, then I HAVE to have a “sensitive training meeting”, and yes it really does exist, to teach employees who have been there for 20 years, how to interact with ONE PERSON. Everyone has to upset their lives, their routines for ONE PERSON. Kinda sounds like preferential treatment to me. We cannot discriminate against the trans person because they are different, but we MUST discriminate against everyone else who doesn’t accept their lifestyle and “teach” them they HAVE to interact with this person. Your not even allowed to just ignore people anymore because then your creating a “hostile work environment” and YOU are the problem.
I had three excellent candidates to fill the position, but I was told to keep looking for a “certain” type of candidate to show diversity and inclusion. So while Kirk could have just declined the invitation politely, I do have to agree with his position to a certain extent.
If he didn’t want to go he could have just said no thanks, but instead he has to put in his BS 2 cents
I agree, Mr. Smith should have just said no.
DEI is an anacronym for Discriminative Employment Initiative.
Employment should be based on qualifications, but now to many other factors play in. We should be trying to hire the best.
We see where DEI has also infiltrated our college admissions. The best students with the best grades are being discriminated against.
I do not care what your nationality or sexual persuasion is, let’s just treat everyone as equals and not try to achieve a quota.
We need to have policies that do not place preferential treatment for anyone.
JONES- why are you so sure ppl have been hired only on their “qualifications” before DEI?
DEI is a code for preference based on race, gender and other woke factors. Just make decisions on who is best qualified. Give everyone an equal opportunity for consideration.
So what you are trying to tell me is that the establishment, whatever the establishment is hires based off of qualifications. If that is so why are there so many incompetent people in high places of government, private sector, etc and that isn’t based off of color, but I think off of who you know versus what you know.
It is hard to treat every one equal, because from the very beginning no one has been treated equally.
Yes, like George W Bush got into Yale on “merit”. Completely on “merit”, the green kind with lots of zeros.
White Middle and Lower Middle Class fear is the main driver of todays Neo-nazish types. The great thing about Jim Crow and anti-Asian laws out west were that white males did not have to compete against similarly competent people who were black or asian.
When you read the comments here from people who talk about hiring only those most qualified, that’s a white middle and lower middle class expression of fear.
Most qualified for a job is an interesting phrase, what do you do when 10 people are qualified for one job? How do you pick between the 10? What if you already have a bunch of white men doing the same job, do you need to hire another white man or do you diversify and hire a (fill in the blank).
Diversity in the work place is a good unto itself unless you are making Amish furniture in Pa or something.
What Mr. Smith is so ignorant about is that Marx was primarily writing about the Capital Class – a class of white man two or three economic steps above him. The Capital Class folks have pitted the lower classes against each other for the last 300 years in this country using race in the South and the Pacific as the primary wedge.
Wage slaves often do not realize they are wage slaves and mistakenly assume they are free as if you can be “free” if you need a job to pay for food, shelter, and medicine.
I do applaud Smith’s attempt at discourse because even that is better than most of those tied up in this right wing, Ayn Rand, fantasy world.
Never forget, half of everyone in the US has an IQ below 98. Nearly 17% of Americans have an IQ below 86. – that’s around 50 million people. The Founders never expected those people to be able to vote.
I am certainly ashamed Kirk Smith represents my home county. Interesting that none of the 4 republican County Commissioners were born and raised in Lee County. Personally I like a mixture of backgrounds on any elected board but I think being raised in a community gives you a unique perspective that none of the republicans have. Kirk professes to be a Christian yet he says some of the most cruel things to people. I will never forget when the said, “The seventh narcan shot is six too many”. I hope the expected growth brings in people that will actually care more about what a person running for office truly stands for than the letter beside their name on the ballot.
I find it interesting, so many people love to mention if a person is in a political office, they were elected to be in, it always gets mentioned that they are not from Lee County. Ironically this article and thread is about diversity, and yet you decry diversity when it comes to elected office. Yes, diversity does not only mean race, gender, gender identity, and the whole host of other social hot button topics today. Diversity also includes things like diversity of thought, background, education, geographical background, etc. The advantage of having some people from different, counties, states, or even countries elected to governmental offices is it brings experience from other areas. It reduces the tribal bubble thinking of ideas that inevitably grows when you have multigenerational people being decision makers in an area. It generates out of the box ideas and gets rid of the “It has always been done this way” mindset. It reduces nepotism and cronyism. But you keep pushing the diversity narrative as you argue against diversity.
I knew the lack of reading comprehension would lead someone to make a response similar to yours. I stated I like a mixture of backgrounds yet you pass right over that sentence. The advantages from being from here gives a person a better understanding as to the history of Lee County. What issues did we have to overcome to get to where we are today. As far as diversity is concerned. Did you know the former head of the KKK settled in Lee County and unless he has died or moved still lives here. Did you know when Sherry Womack last ran for School Board her husband made a big deal about the safety of the mostly minority neighborhood around Wicker School when it was being refurbished? “Dog Wistle”. Did you know the only African American that ran for School Board last election came in dead last even though he worked the hardest to get elected? Did you know the last time republican had control of the County Commission for a two year period zero jobs were created in Lee County since their outside the box thinking decided they would sacrifice luring compaines to Lee County would be done without offering incentives? The only innovative idea Jim Womack and crew every came up with was changing the rules for allowing fracking in Lee County. I truly think a mixture of people from all different backgrounds on an elected board is a good thing as long as they can think and vote independently but as you cetainly know one man now controls both the School Board and County Commission and there is not a lot of diverse thinking going on.
I do agree with most of what you have said, and we are in complete agreement on the subject of who controls the BOE and County Commissioners. I agree with you that diversity of thought and ideas only works if you are allowed to actually have your own thoughts and ideas and aren’t under threat of Party Disloyalty if you dare to act in a manner that you were elected to.
As a student of business and economics that loves the creation of new enterprises, I have found it very interesting that locally and nationally how fast DEI and ESG has created a multi-billion dollar industry and created jobs. There are people making billions creating organizations like the “Let’s do it together foundation” and the “Sanford Equity Taskforce”. Countless numbers of people are getting degrees, licenses, and certifications in the areas of DEI that never existed 10 years ago and are making huge salaries as a result. What a brilliant concept, they found a niche industry and are not only exploiting it for huge profits as organizations, but are also getting lawmakers at all levels to by their products, hire their “Instructors” and adopt their policies as a matter of law in business. Hell every business owner, large and small now has to have DEI and ESG policies posted in their place of work. Large companies have now added new divisions to their Human Resources departments employing dozens of trained DEI and ESG people to manage DEI and ESG requirements. It is absolutely mind blowing how these concepts have exploded into billions of dollars. Of course it has a neat selling point, that being if you as a business, or government agency don’t fully adopt these ideas and policies, or even if you do, but do or say something they don’t like or agree with, these organizations will come after you personally, professionally, and legally to not only force you but will destroy your entire life and crush your ability to even get a job at a fast food chain. It all starts off with smiles and noble ideas and quickly morphs into tyranny. All it takes is for someone to say that you or your business didn’t give them what they believed they should have gotten and it was because of (FILL IN THE BLANK HERE). Next thing you know, you are having to prove that you didn’t commit the offense instead of them proving you did. Interestingly UNC has gotten rid of DEI requirements in their hiring practices and in applications for students to attend because of the discriminatory nature these policies implement. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Love thy neighbor. Lastly, work to impact the environment as little as possible and clean it up as fast as possible. There you go people, save your time and money because you are being bamboozled into buying what DEI and ESG is selling. They offer no real insight to anything. They tell you what you should already know. They just put a great sounding sales pitch on it and shame you with all of the derogatory catch phrases of the day if you don’t buy what they are selling.
Additionally, After reviewing the Let’s do it Together Foundation website. They elude to being 501(c)(3) organization. I say elude, because they say they have “initiated the process”.
At this time they are not recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. This matters because they do solicit donations and you as an a donor have no way to research how they actually disperse the funds. Of course you can contact their finance officer who is required to provide you with their latest financial reports. Just know that your donations are not tax deductible and of course they may not get approved for non profit status. Be careful who you throw your money, time, and energy behind. You may be getting scammed. I will withhold my judgement and my donations until they are in fact a Non-Profit and I can see what they spend the money on. You can research yourself.
Funny how nobody talks about diversity of ideas or intellect. It’s always about plugging people into positions because of their, sexual orientation or they’re trans. I say you choose the best candidate over everything else. Biden stated that he would choose a black woman to fill certain positions. Diversity based on race got us Kamala as VP. What a useless person. Supreme Court justice picked based on race.
Yes. And Trump promised to only nominate a pro-life SC Justice. I personally thought/think selecting Kamala was a mistake by Biden but his SC nominee was well qualified. Lets also be real. Tons of non minority people get political appointments because of who they know not what they know. Tons of non minority people get sweet jobs because of nepotism not ability. I would totally agree with selecting the best candidate but the problem is the people making the selection have biases against many of the people you mention even though that person may be the most qualified.
racist gonna act like a racist…
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Many will disagree with me and that is fine. However, the reality is, all of these programs, groups, organizations and everyone else focusing on DEI, ESG, CRT, and all the other entities that are operating in this sphere of ultra heightened awareness of all of the social issues will soon fade away into obscurity. The fact is these ideologies create so much division, anger, and resentment in people they will turn away from it in time. These heightened states of awareness are mentally, physically, and emotionally tiring. These ideologies create an actual hostile work and social environment that does not allow for mistakes, learning, and most importantly forgiveness and acceptance. People can’t live and work in a society where they fear to say or do anything or they will have their entire life destroyed as a result. Simply put the standards of living and human interaction these ideologies demand is unsustainable and in time society will reject it. It is inevitable. It has already started. People that were key players in the creation of these ideologies have crumbled under the very scrutiny they demand. Several have already lost everything as a result of the very social rules they created. One of the most powerful messengers for societal change is the arts, (entertainment industry) you now see how the restrictive existence and excessive punitive actions of the hyper vigilant social justice, equity, inclusion, and diversity gate keepers have forced even Hollywood to start pushing back against these ideologies because it greatly restricts their abilities as artists. So just sit back, eat your popcorn, and watch it all implode. The simple fact is when it comes to business especially, anything that costs money to make or implement has to have a return on investment equal to or greater than the cost to make or implement. If it does not produce profits, then it will be ended because it makes no money. Companies and schools are already finding that the implementation of DEI and ESG is costing them millions and in some cases billions to not only implement but sustain and is producing little to no profit while simultaneously forcing them to increase costs for their services or products. Michigan State University just released their financials for 2022 and it showed that DEI implementation alone has cost them an additional 18 million a year for just the 187 people they had to hire. These kinds of costs are unsustainable and eventually get passed on to the consumer which in this case is the student. College is already out of many peoples price range and now it is going up even faster because of DEI. Who do you think will be the people most affected by this? That’s right, the lower income and minority students who already struggle to get into colleges. So the very people they say they are helping, in the end are the people that are being hurt the most. So yes, all of the hyper awareness is going to go away very soon.
Smith’s comments about diversity is at best narrow minded, however racism and Neo-Nazi at the core. Its a shame him and his kind are representing Lee County, we are better that this.
The community of Sanford should demand more from it’s City Officials. Sanford my want to re-think who they are putting in office. The last time I checked a community that truly grows and strives, are the communities with diversity. Try and Figure, why the State of Mississippi is where it is politically and economically. This state is at or near the bottom of every socio-economic category. All people of all races, creeds and colors have something to contribute to society, whether in Sanford, North Carolina or any other City and State. Because of the terrible decisions Mississippians made throughout the State’s history when it comes to diversity and inclusion, not one Fortune 500 company is located in Mississippi, can you guess why? Answer: Lack of Inclusion and Diversity — Sanford, we must do better and we can do better with who we elect to represent us, or we could become the Next Mississippi? Eyes and Ears are watching, and sometimes people can be removed from office before their term is up, if the political will of the people demand, and demand better for their city!!! Wake Up Sanford, as Maya Angelo said, “When Someone Shows You Who They Are, Believe Them The First Time”.