Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Univ of Minnesota Loves Diversity

The University of Minnesota has a new booklet out articulating how much they love diversity. How much? They say "diversity" 230 times in 18 pages. As a local journalist noted about a different program at the U:
aspiring teachers there must repudiate the notion of "the American Dream" in order to obtain the recommendation for licensure required by the Minnesota Board of Teaching. Instead, teacher candidates must embrace -- and be prepared to teach our state's kids -- the task force's own vision of America as an oppressive hellhole: racist, sexist and homophobic.
It seems like the essence of a higher education is diversity, not of thought, but of human subgroups based on ethnicity, religion, race, and sex.

Tolerance of diversity is has morphed into celebration, and in the process took something salutary and turned into something destructive. Some think diversity encourages the active and complex kind of thinking because it puts students in uncomfortable situations, but diversity is usually the most scripted and routine parts of their education, because for decades now, the diversity agenda has taught them all the safe answers to their smarmy questions.

Equating group disparities with racism on the part of the more successful group guarantees mutual resentment. As overt discrimination fades, still large racial disparities in success leads African Americans to conclude that racism is not only pervasive but also insidious because it is so unobservable and unconscious. Whites resent that nonfalsifiable accusation and the demands to feel guilty, if not directly compensate, African Americans for harm they do not believe they caused.

Once we encountered the world’s diversity with prejudice, disgust, erotic excitement, pity-—but also curiosity. Now we look at it incoherently, as both vastly important (in explaining inequality) and utterly irrelevant (in explaining fundamental differences between races). Such nonsense quickly instills in one an incurious attitude towards diversity in order to avoid offense and nonsense. Ask a professor why black sprinters dominate the 100 meters, and you'll often here something silly and a quick change of the topic. Ask that same professor why blacks have lower socioeconomic status in the West, and you'll hear a confident exposition on institutional racism. Smart people learn to just avoid the subject.

The diversity mantra implies class membership trumps individual character in determining moral standing. It should be no surprise that this belief has failed to improve the lot of those regarded as oppressed. It inverts Martin Luther King's call to judge people by the content of their character, and in the process creates a greater divide.


Anonymous said...

Thinking about diversity and racism is one of those things that should be done a little bit, in moderation.

In America, "white" is the dominant racial category. This means that white people are understood as being normal, standard, default, as not having race. This also means, for example, that people will very rarely attempt to explain a dysfunctional white person's behavior by referring to his or her racial characteristics. On the other hand, a dysfunctional black person renders his entire group suspect; black people may therefore carry around the burden of representing their entire race.* I say this not to explain group differences but simply to point out an actual difference in how people of different races are treated.

There is such a thing as power and people with more power are treated better than people with less power. People with power are given the benefit of the doubt. There is a halo effect. People with advantages accumulate greater advantages. And this is often unfair, for reasonable definitions of fairness.

I think it is good for people to be aware of these issues. People have a strong psychological need to believe that life is fair and I don't think it hurts people -- especially privileged people, people with relatively greater power -- to be exposed to ideas that undermine their faith in the fairness of life.

But one can take this so far. The unfairness of life is not purely a contingent fact about our society; it is also close to a logical necessity. There will always be power imbalances. And attempts to rectify power imbalances are always "problematic" in some sense, because you need power to change the world, but the most reliable way to gain power is to serve the already-powerful. Life just isn't fair, and it can't be.

So, all things in moderation. And we should be wary of "feel-good" nonsense.

*Diversity programs aggravate this issue, by the way. But as I said above, sometimes life is just fundamentally unfair.

Anonymous said...

What in the hell's Diversity?

Well I could be wrong, but I believe that diversity is an old old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era.....


Anonymous said...

F*%k diversity. Xenophobia Rocks!

Anonymous said...

Katherine Kersten is not a journalist. She is an opinion columnist.

J said...

Please dont generalize. Some of us still look at diversity with "erotic curiosity". A diversified portfolio of Swedish, Finnish, Russian, Ucrainian, German and Chech girls is recommended and rotated on a six-month basis.

Anonymous said...

The question is this: can we ever achieve a diverse enough society to satisfy academia? The answer is no. There will always be someone somewhere who is treated unfairly for one reason or another leading to yet another diversity workshop.

Dipper said...

As an old socialist, can I point out that these diversity agendas have nothing to do with socialism.

The old radical formula is the simple statement "to each according to heir needs, from each according to their means". The ideal society is thus a contract between an individual and the state. Furthermore the individual is seen as having needs different from others due to their individuality. Nowhere in here is any mention of communities, groups, or the colour of anyone's skin. To classify indidivuals and by their ethnicity is demeaning and oppressive.

Anonymous said...

Remarkable how liberals in the lily-whitest states bleat loudest about "diversity". I'm a former Minnesotan -- I heard such posturing and preening all the time.

Of course, if they truly loved "diversity", they'd live in, say, Atlanta.