Is "Woke Capitalism" the New Republican Racist Dog Whistle?

Robert Reich / Robert Reich's Substack
Is Economist and former labor secretary Robert Reich. (photo: AP)

They’re even blaming Silicon Valley Bank’s failure on it

Rather than understand Silicon Valley Bank’s failure as the result of financial deregulation that allowed bank executives to take excessive risks, Republican politicians are blaming the bank’s failure on “woke” capitalism.


House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) calls Silicon Valley Bank “one of the most woke banks.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis charges that Silicon Valley Bank’s focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion “diverted from them focusing on their core mission.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson says diversity and inclusion standards are why “big banks are now increasingly incompetent.”

What seems to have incensed these Republicans is Silicon Valley Bank’s announcement last summer that it would be providing mortgages to lower-income homebuyers and using hiring practices that promote diversity. Of course, there’s zero evidence that these initiatives contributed to the bank’s collapse.

DeSantis, by the way, seems to be focusing his entire upcoming presidential campaign on his opposition to wokeness. “We are not going to surrender to woke,” he said. “Florida is the state where woke goes to die.” In late February, under pressure from trustees appointed by DeSantis, the New College of Florida voted to abolish the office that oversees the school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Hence, today’s Office Hours question: Is “woke” capitalism becoming Republicans’ new racist dog whistle?

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