Why The CIA's New 'Woke' Recruitment Video Is Getting Backlash From All Sides

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CIA flag waving

The CIA is facing backlash from all sides after posting a two-minute recruitment video that exhibited evidence of what one might call, “wokeness.” 

The video in question features Mija, a Latina intelligence officer, who identifies herself as “a cisgender millennial, who has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.”

The video, which was presumably intended to advertise that the CIA is a welcoming space for all, has drawn particularly visceral criticism from conservatives. 

What is in the CIA’s “woke” recruitment video? 

Mija discusses her experience as a person whose race and gender aren’t typically represented in agencies like the CIA and asserts her place in a space that has historically excluded her. 

“I am intersectional, but my existence is not a box-checking exercise,” she says before adding, “I refuse to internalize misguided patriarchal ideas of what a woman can or should be.”

Hispanic agents make up just 11.6% of the CIA and only 25% of agents are women. Unsurprisingly, white men dominate the agency. 

If a recruitment video can communicate that women and non-white people that the CIA is a place they can flourish in, what’s the harm, right? 

Unfortunately, some naysayers would rather inlusivity go unadvertised. 

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Conservatives have called the CIA’s video “embarrassing.”

For some, a Latina woman proudly taking ownership of her culture and femininity while maintaining a successful career in the intelligence service ruins all that is good about America. 

Bryan Dean Wright had a volcanic response on Fox News, blasting the agency and labeling the video, “propagandist garbage.” 

For conservatives, who seem bizarrely sensitive to these kinds of things whilst accusing the left of being “snowflakes,” the video makes America “less safe.” 

Meghan McCain claimed, “China, Russia and our enemies are laughing at us.”

Republican senator, Ted Cruz, joined in with a similar take, tweeting, “If you’re a Chinese communist, or an Iranian Mullah, or Kim Jong Un … would this scare you?” Before making an arbitrary reference to Jason Bourne who, to clarify, is a fictional character who has nothing to do with the CIA. 

This is a somewhat ironic response given how threatened these figures appear by the video. Equally, Twitter is largely banned in the aforementioned countries so there’s a good chance that America's “enemies” aren’t watching CIA recruitment videos. 

However, conservatives aren’t the only ones criticizing the CIA’s take on diversity and inclusion. For once, the left and right were united in the backlash, albeit for different reasons. 

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The left is accusing the CIA of co-opting liberal language. 

Many are unwilling to forgive the CIA’s past and what they perceive as a hidden agenda within the video. 

David Rieff, an author and policy analyst, accused the agency of attempting to win over liberals who might otherwise be a threat to their power. 

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“The job for the US & UK intelligence services, and, indeed, for other centers of establishment power, is to transform the Woke wolf into a domesticated Woke dog. I’m betting they succeed,” he wrote

Fundamentally, the CIA, with their use of torture and their history of orchestrating fatal coups in nations like Iran and Guatemala, and their involvement in drug trafficking, defies much of what liberals stand for. Thus, the left has been reluctant to trust the message the video advertises. 

Another Twitter user called the agency, “an eternal enemy of the international left,” and labeled the video a “devastating indictment of the left.” 

Others have critiqued the video as a series of liberal buzz words with little evidence to suggest the CIA cares about any of the identity politics Mija represents. 

However, for some, the video will be meaningful in its effort to expand representation. Some veterans of the CIA have come to the defense of the agency. 

 “Diversity is an operational advantage. Simple as that. I want case officers who look like the UN,” Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior officer, said on Twitter. “[The] Agency needs to push Diversity efforts to win, not to be ‘woke.’ I applaud their efforts, but also note they have a ways to go.”

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.