By Jackson Richman
On Wednesday, HuffPost and other outlets blatantly accused the Department of Housing and Urban Development of removing “anti-discrimination” and “inclusive” language in its mission statement, therefore, accusing it of becoming a racist agency.
HuffPost‘s Amanda Terkel wrote:
WASHINGTON ― Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is changing the mission statement of his agency, removing promises of inclusive and discrimination-free communities.
In a March 5 memo addressed to HUD political staff, Amy Thompson, the department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, explained that the statement is being updated “in an effort to align HUD’s mission with the Secretary’s priorities and that of the Administration.”
One, the memo has not changed HUD’s mission statement, as the current one is, as of this writing, still on the department’s website.
Two, anti-discrimination laws already exit, such as the Fair Housing Act. It prohibits discrimination regarding renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, and disability. If people want sexual orientation to be included as a basis, such a law must include not only those who are LGBTQ, but also straight. Otherwise, that would be discriminatory.
Additionally, such a measure would have to be passed by Congress and signed into law by the president.
Mission statements do present a business ethos to government agencies like HUD. “The Government Accountability Office recommended [there be agency mission statements] to focus their priorities and clearly communicate to the public their goals to promote accountability,” Brookings economist Aaron Klein told The National Discourse.
“You can make an argument mission statements are superfluous because each agency is supposed to do the law,” Klein added.
Furthermore, “Mission statements are not indicators of legal responsibilities but of agency priorities,” Klein said. “Changes in mission statements do not change the law.”
HUD released a statement Wednesday afternoon:
As in previous Administrations, HUD is considering modest changes to the Department’s mission statement to make it a more clear and concise expression of the historic work this agency performs on behalf of the American people. You can be sure of one thing — any mission statement for this Department will embody the principle of fairness as a central element of everything that we do. HUD has been, is now, and will always be committed to ensuring inclusive housing, free from discrimination from all Americans.
Because HUD’s mission statement might change, that does automatically mean the department will become something that it is not. Laws do not change by mission statements, rather by Congressional legislation and then enacted by the executive branch. Sure, time could be better spent on enabling affordable housing as opposed to comprising a mission statement. But that criticism is one that, unlike this hype, is anything but hysterical.
This misleading and disingenuous speculation by HuffPost and others is an instance of today’s hyper-partisan and hyper-ideological discourse. These days in the political discourse, we need less pathos and more ethos and logos. We need to think rationally, not emotionally.
Wednesday’s revelation is no exception to that necessity.