The Stanford Law diversity dean who helped protesters shut down a speech by a conservative judge comes from a privileged family and is following in the footsteps of her mother –who once ran training sessions that accused Buddhists of being “too white.”
The Daily Wire reported this week that Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Tirian Steinbach spoke last year at a “grieving session” for a transgender student who committed suicide and then turned the floor over to her mother, who compared the student favorably to 9/11 hijackers, claiming that neither felt listened to.
Steinbach’s mother is Sala Steinbach, who was originally Marilyn Steinbach but took the alternate name after embracing Buddhism in the 1990s, and quickly began running radical Critical Race Theory sessions that posited that western Buddhism was too white and full of racists.
The dean’s father is Alan Steinbach, a chemistry professor who held a prestigious position at the Marine Biological Laboratory just off of Martha’s Vineyard, where a pleasure boat was registered in Sala’s name, according to public records reviewed by The Daily Wire.
He inherited that position from his father, Henry Burr Steinbach, a University of Chicago professor who led the laboratory in addition to being assistant director of the National Science Foundation, director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and president of the American Society of Zoologists and the Society for General Physiologists, according to his obituary in the New York Times.
When she was known as Marilyn, Steinbach’s mother lived a charmed live, cavorting in Paris as a young woman who aspired to be a dancer. In 1963, she went to a Paris cafe where she later described people “sitting around drinking café lattes and discussing the March on Washington” and decided to go back to America to listen to Martin Luther King’s speech. She went to Skidmore College and joined the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). She met her husband when he placed a call from his graduate school looking for a way to transport busloads of students to a protest of the Vietnam war, Tirien wrote in 2018.
Sala’s maritime life off of Martha’s Vineyard instilled in her a love of nature, which then led her to Buddhism.
“My spiritual home is Green Gulch Farm Zen Center. It’s a place with deep dharma practice, beautiful gardens, acres of flowers and vegetables,” she wrote in 1996.
But there was also a problem: Like her daughter, Buddhists in America were mostly white.
“As an institution, Green Gulch is passionately involved with ecology. The people there are, with some exceptions, European Americans. I want them to care for and work for the health and beauty and safety of human diversity as passionately as they do for biodiversity,” she wrote.
She began running hardcore Critical Race Theory exercises on San Francisco Buddhists, ordering them to stand on opposite corners of the room depending on their identity politics group, and then hurl out invectives against the others, asking questions like, “When you were a child, what were you told about the group across from you? … What are some of the names used to refer to that other group?”
She teamed up with a white Buddhist to work on an anti-racist project, before accusing that woman of being a racist. “You and I are in deep trouble… You don’t know the power of ‘Whiteness,’” Sala told Barbara Gates, her would-be collaborator, Gates wrote. “I don’t want to be alone in these conversations in case someone—probably in all innocence—expresses unexamined racism that might be hurtful to me.”
When Dean Steinbach brought her mother to an event marking the life of a transgender student who had committed suicide, Sala drew on her Buddhist beliefs, saying a monk had told her the day after the September 11, 2001 attacks that “I don’t know what those men were thinking, but I know that no one was listening to them, or at least they felt that way,” and that the same applied to the student, according to Federalist Society chapter president Tim Rosenberg, who attended the event. The transgender student was in fact a member of the conservative group, but the dean later sided with students protesting it, purportedly for being a threat to transgender lives.
Like her mother, Dean Steinbach combined her privilege and tantial grip on an “oppressed” identity to make a career out of calling out hidden bigotry in the most unlikely of places—in her case, the elite campus of America’s top-ranked law school, in uber-liberal Palo Alto.
Despite only one of her four grandparents being fully black, the dean’s diversity job resting on a resume that included serving as vice president of the Law Students of African Descent. “In 2017, she launched the Coalition for Equity and Inclusion in Law (CCEIL), a Bay Area regional cohort of law and policy organizations dedicated to advancing greater cultural equity, inclusion, and diversity in the sector,” her Stanford biography says.
Fighting for the oppressed was lucrative work. In the year ending March 2021, she made $253,000 for working 38 hours a week as the chief program officer for the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Northern California, according to tax filings. Three months later, she took the job at Stanford, which presumably came with a pay increase.
Steinbach did not return a request for comment.