In Diversity Mania I spell out twelve precepts of the Diversity Agenda. Here, in what is probably the most extensive essay on my web site, I explore the reasons I reject the first and the fourth:
1. Diversity is good, always good, and really very, very good.
4. Diversity must be achieved by discriminating against white males.
Many—perhaps most—of my students have been conditioned to say “Diversity is good.” If I were to ask them why, they would look at me quizzically. I suspect they would think, “Only a prejudiced person could ask this.” I am certain the answer I would get would be a slogan. Diversity is simply a belief that cannot be challenged.
That is, by definition, dogma—a belief that cannot be questioned. Diversity has become a religious creed, a catechism indoctrinated into most students and faculty by the Diversifiers. Yet for education to succeed, all beliefs must be subject to challenge—without attacking the challenger. Look at the photo above. You see here the brave crew of the doomed Space Shuttle Challenger. Ask yourself: Does this photo represent “diversity”?
“Celebrate diversity!” That's the slogan of the Diversifier. It didn't begin that way. It started with “affirmative action.”
In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson issued an executive order requiring federal contractors to take affirmative action to end discrimination. Though the details of how to do this weren't spelled out, the trend caught on in Academia: Colleges and universities began to hire faculty and admit students by taking “affirmative action” to correct years of discrimination.
Affirmative action, however, came to mean more than stopping discrimination. It favored traditionally “underrepresented” groups while it disfavored white males. As Lyndon Johnson phrased it:
You do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race and then say: 'You are free to compete with all the others.'... Legal equity is not enough. (cited by Appelbaum & Chambliss, 1997, p. 270)
To complete President Johnson's metaphor, while minorities were to have their bonds broken, white men were to be shackled.
In the early 1970s, when I first experienced hiring committees, “affirmative action” was interpreted at Grossmont College as outreach. This meant that the College must advertise open faculty positions in publications that specifically target minorities, especially black persons and women. No longer would a “good old boy” system, in which favors are based on who knows whom, be tolerated.
What had begun as outreach began to transmogrify. Now applicants from underrepresented groups were to be awarded preferences in hiring until we had achieved a quota: The percent of faculty of each group ought to represent the same percent in the population. If 52 percent of the population, for example, were female, our quota was to hire until 52 percent of faculty were women.
In a 1978 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the University of California at Davis, by requiring a 16 percent minority quota for students, had discriminated against a white applicant, Allan Bakke. Quotas were declared illegal, but preferences that did not involve quotas were acceptable.
With quotas outlawed, but preferences permitted, the California State Legislature mandated that its colleges and universities seek to achieve targets in which the percent of minorities among faculty and students would equal their percent in the population. Outreach had evolved into quotas. Now quotas had become targets.
By the 1990s some colleges and universities were giving preferences to minority students by awarding points based on race. For example, a white woman seeking admission to the University of Michigan and considered “well-qualified” was rejected in favor of a person of color because she had fewer points (out of 100 possible points, 20 points were awarded for belonging to an “under-represented” race). Appealing the decision against her to the United States Supreme Court, it was ruled in 2003 that points were no longer permissible but “preferences” not based on points were.
With quotas, targets, and points outlawed, hiring and admissions policies now gave preferences based on race and gender.
During the decade of the 1990s, eager to find a new slogan to fire the imagination, affirmative actionites began to call their program diversity. The goal, they argued, was to achieve diversity in faculty and students. Who, after all, except a bigot could oppose diversity?
From affirmative action to outreach, from outreach to quotas, from quotas to targets, from targets to points, from points to preferences, from preferences to diversity—with their legal base narrowing, the Diversifiers would not relent. They had, after all, discovered a word that would twist the facts and seize the mind: “diversity.”
The moment affirmative action stretches beyond outreach, a number of fundamental problems arise.
Unfairness to the rejected. Is it just to hobble white men with chains when they have never engaged in discrimination? Shouldn't the penalty be suffered by the guilty? Isn't this merely punishing the innocent for the sins of their fathers? What of white men whose ancestors fought discrimination—should they too be chained? What of white men whose ancestors crossed the seas to escape discrimination?
What happened to the American notion of “fair play”? How can baseball, American athletics, the rule of law, human interaction, the concept of morality itself ever be the same once we settle for unfairness to fix unfairness?
Unfairness to the preferred. Is it just to burden persons of color and women with the lifelong suspicion that they were hired, promoted, or admitted not on their merit but on their skin color or gender? Is it a good idea that people will forever question the training of the black doctor, the education of the brown college professor, or the ability of the female executive, thinking that in the search for “diversity” each received favoritism over a smarter, wiser, or more able white male?
Groupism. Should we approach individuals as if they were a group mass? When we hire, admit, or promote a person because of the person's race or gender, we are not hiring a black, brown, or female blob. We are hiring an individual. We have not turned away a concept called the “white male executive”—we have turned away an individual, perhaps one who has never discriminated in his life.
Selective empathy. It is a virtue to identify with a person of color, or a woman, who is discriminated against. Doing so promotes sensitivity, compassion, the desire to end suffering. It fosters moral behavior: Once I put myself in your shoes, I will do unto you as I would like you to do unto me. Hence many white men feel at peace with themselves when they see the new coworker or student who is non-white or female.
What, however, of the white male who is equally or better qualified who is turned away? Doesn't empathy require that we put ourselves in his shoes as well? How does he feel knowing that he was rejected because of his skin color or gender? Don't we experience the same sensitivity, compassion, and desire to end suffering for him as we did for the person we favored? The added burden we must bear is that in this case it is a suffering we ourselves have inflicted.
Like most who feel comfortable practicing favoritism, affirmative actionites narrow their vision to the one who benefits, blinding themselves to the suffering they have inflicted on the rejected one. This same selective empathy is how the wealthy feel at ease judging the poor, the healthy the ailing, the powerful the powerless. Is it a positive thing to walk through life with one eye blind?
Discrimination to end discrimination. President Clinton argued that preferential hiring was justified because hiring is not a “zero-sum” game. Yet when 100 people seek a job in which there is only one opening, the game certainly is zero-sum. The gain of one is the loss of another. When jobs, promotions, and student enrollment are limited, discrimination for is always, invariably, inescapably discrimination against. Affirmative action, correctly named, is affirmative discrimination.
Ends vs. means. Does the end (“diversity”) justify the means (discrimination)? Is it right to fight discrimination with discrimination? After days, months, or years of discriminating, doesn't a person begin to feel comfortable with it—becoming the very evil he or she originally sought to eradicate? Doesn't DNA favoritism place the person on a slippery slope? Once we have convinced ourselves that discriminating to promote diversity is good, why not discriminate for other quite “noble” reasons?
Affirmative action is not equal opportunity. I knew a Dean who despised race and gender bias. He noted that the College stationery had inscribed at the bottom of each page both “Equal Opportunity” and “Affirmative Action.” Recognizing that they were incompatible, he crossed out “Equal Opportunity.” Equal opportunity focuses on input. Each applicant is given a fair shake, ignoring race and gender so that the same standard applies to all. Affirmative action focuses on outcome. Each applicant is judged by a different standard, because the non-white and non-male are preferred in order to ensure that hiring ends up with pre-selected race and gender proportions.
Diversity-seeking is racial and gender profiling. How much of a person's DNA must come from a preferred group to receive favored treatment? What of the person with one black great grandmother who married a white great grandfather? Is racial “purity” required for preferential hiring and admission? Isn't the counting of drops of racial blood the method of the bigot?
And what of current evidence suggesting that all of us descend from a common band of proto-humans who lived in Africa? Aren't we all African American? How many generations into the past must we count to determine our racial purity?
Is the African American by DNA who looks Caucasian to receive preference? Is the Latino or Asian American, who looks like a white person, to be favored over the DNA-based white person? Are diversity judgments to be based on DNA or on appearance? Why?
Hypocrisy. Isn't there something unseemly when a white male with a comfortable job rejects a jobless white male because he is white and male? Isn't this called hypocrisy? Wouldn't honesty demand that the white man with the job, who seeks diversity, give up his job—or never seek it in the first place—and instead find employment where white males are absent or in the minority? Where is the integrity in this preferential hiring called “diversity”?
As with the means for achieving diversity, the reasons for seeking it have evolved over time.
At the beginning the goal of affirmative action was to compensate for generations of discrimination. After centuries of unspeakable inhumanity, black children grew up encumbered with the historical burden of slavery. After millennia of subjugation, young girls grew up chained with the patriarchal yoke of inferiority. Affirmative action would correct this.
Diversifiers began to argue that because prejudice was not merely a sin of the past but continued into the present, affirmative action was needed to compensate for ongoing discrimination.
A female colleague once told me that one of her reasons for favoring affirmative action was the fact that when she was the only woman on a college committee she felt “uncomfortable.” Similarly, a Latina American student at Syracuse University in 2005 remarked:
I look around campus especially this first day and I see a lot of Caucasian people.... It's not necessarily a bad thing. It just makes me feel a little bit smaller. I know that once I start classes, I'll be one of just one or two minorities in that classroom. (Pope, 2005, p. A16)
By the 1990s, many at Grossmont College argued that students must have teachers who are role models, and role models must match their students in skin color and ethnicity. As a Latino American faculty organization at Grossmont College argued (see the Prelude to Instructor Satirizes Diversity Demand), “racial diversity” in faculty is required for students who are “persons of color”:
...looking up to a group of faculty who resembled us only in our love, respect, or admiration of a particular academic discipline [is] not enough.
In a 2003 case before the United States Supreme Court, the University of Michigan argued that it needed to favor students of color in order to enhance the learning experience of students. Law students, the University argued, would receive an inadequate education if they didn't have persons of color in the classroom to share their life experience.
As the years passed, the Diversifiers appended reason after reason for favoring the underrepresented: past discrimination, present discrimination, the need for role models of color, and to enhance the learning experience. When a person keeps shifting the grounds for his thinking, we do not call it reason. We call it obsession. We call it mania.
Will affirmative action ever end? If the goal is to compensate for past discrimination, how long must we discriminate against white men to compensate for the sins of the fathers? Until the proportions of the underrepresented equal their proportions in the population? Doesn't this require unceasing monitoring of race and gender proportions by occupation, constantly calibrating to maintain the proper proportions?
If the goal is to counter ongoing discrimination, doesn't this require that non-white persons and females be favored until the last bigot on the planet dies? How will we know when this takes place? How long must we discriminate to counter today's discrimination?
Diversity requires programming the masses. What if Filipinos, or African Americans, or women choose not to enter certain occupations? What if most women choose not to be wrestlers or boxers or professors? What if most African Americans choose not to be accountants or lawyers or shoemakers? Doesn't the Diversity Agenda require that preferences against white males continue until all people have been conditioned into conformity?
Social discomfort does not equal discrimination. Surely it is not the task of a college campus or an employer to make certain that all students or workers feel “comfortable” by surrounding them with persons of the same gender or skin color. A student or employee has every right to expect equal treatment. When, however, a student or employee is uncomfortable with persons of a different race or gender, this is a sign of prejudice that the person must seek to expunge from his or her flawed character. To correct this is called learning. I have had at least three Deans supervise me who were women. If each of these Deans treats me fairly and with respect, and I feel “uncomfortable” or “smaller” because she is a woman, is that my fault—a prejudice I need to work on—or is it time for the College to give me a male Dean? I have worked at the College under College Presidents and District Chancellors who were Latino men and white women. If this gives me discomfort, because I need more white supervisors, whose problem is this: mine or that of the College and District? Must the world tailor itself to satisfy the prejudices we ourselves manufacture?
Skin color and gender role models. Must teachers match their students in skin color and gender? Won't this require that white students have white teachers, black students have black teachers, and female students have female teachers (see Instructor Satirizes Diversity Demand)? Should gay students be taught by gay teachers and heterosexual students by heterosexual teachers? If a psychology department has only five teachers, how can they possibly match their population of students in skin color, gender, and other characteristics?
Isn't one of the goals of education to teach students to reach beyond their race and gender in the search for role models? Why can't a white student have Martin Luther King as a role model, a black student Cesar Chavez, and a Latino student Albert Einstein? As I argued in a memo to the Department (see I Resign From Hiring Committee):
The slain, black hero who dreamed of the day when all of us would be judged by the content of our character was one of “my people,” and yet I am not “African-American.” The naked, brown Indian who stood in civil disobedience against the brute force of the British Empire was one of “my people,” and yet I am neither Hindu nor Indian. The courageous, olive-skinned student who faced the muzzle of a tank's gun outside Tiananmen Square was one of “my people,” and yet I am not “Asian.”
Enhanced learning. If the learning of law is facilitated by a classroom of students who have experienced the law, why not favor a “qualified” white pimp who has gone to jail over a hard-working white mother who has made herself into a law expert but has never been incarcerated? Why not turn down white males from all courses of learning until enough women and non-white men have signed up?
If a classroom needs persons of color to share with other students the experience of discrimination, what of the black or brown student who chooses not to discuss the experience? Shouldn't discussion be a requirement? Without it, learning will not be enhanced by the presence of persons of color. Couldn't the same goal be accomplished by inviting a panel of persons of color to speak to the class?
If diverse student experience enhances the learning of law, how does it enhance the learning of how atoms work, of how the jet stream affects weather, or of how to construct English grammar? Isn't much of education the learning of facts and universals? Would Einstein have formulated his theory of relativity earlier if he had studied physics from a black teacher or a woman?
Selective diversity. Why is diversity important only in selected occupations? Shouldn't the overrepresentation of African Americans in basketball and other professional sports be reduced to its proper proportions by favoring white, Latino, and Asian Americans—and women? Why don't we practice affirmative action in choosing Olympic athletes? And what of white boys and girls who need sports role models who match them in skin color and gender? Aren't they important too?
Why is diversity important only when it favors women and non-white men? To cite an example from psychology, recent data show that women comprise 72.6 percent of those earning Master's degrees, and 66.7 percent of those earning doctoral degrees, in psychology (cited by Bernstein et al., 2006, p. 18). Where is the alarm among Diversifiers at the diminishing number of men earning advanced degrees in psychology? Is it possible that affirmative action achieved its objective and white men learned to seek other careers? Isn't it time for departments of psychology to favor men, and disfavor women, until this distressing disproportion is corrected?
Why do we allow Chinese restaurants to favor employees who are Chinese or Mexican restaurants to favor the hiring of Mexican Americans? Isn't diversity important here? Shouldn't we amend the Constitution to require that 50 percent of Congress be women? What about affirmative action for the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government? President Bill Clinton, on entering office, declared that he would have a Cabinet that “looked like America.” Was 50 percent of his Cabinet female? Did he achieve proportional skin color representation in his Cabinet? Why not require diversity among those who require it of others?
Shouldn't voters be required by law to choose legislators who match them in skin color and gender? Or is diversity only important in the classroom? Why? Why not prevent white men from entering restaurants or from buying homes in a neighborhood until the proper proportion of non-white men and women is achieved first? When a woman or person of color commits a crime, why not judge him or her by a more relaxed standard of justice than that applied to a white man?
Who is to be favored in hiring, promotions, and admissions?
Affirmative action began with a clear group in mind: American blacks. By the 1970s, with the Women's Movement gaining momentum, women were added as a preferred class. It was inevitable that others would seek their share of the pie.
With time, those in the “underrepresented” groups expanded to include not only women and what were now called African Americans, but also Latino/Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. With further time, favored others were added, such as (in the case of Grossmont College) Filipino and Pacific Islander Americans. White Americans—now called White Non-Hispanic—continued as the non-preferred class. They had oppressed the world for too long.
In the beginning, affirmative action was to correct discrimination against minorities. As the years passed, however, some (such as the members of the San Diego City Council) came to argue—against all logic—that the term “minority” implied inferiority. Seeing that white Americans were declining in numbers, the Diversifiers recognized that if Diversity favored those in the minority, preferences would soon have to be given to “White Non-Hispanics.” This could not be tolerated.
To deal with the dilemma, the term “persons of color” replaced “minorities” as the favored group. Now it became possible for the white population to decrease, and the black and brown population to increase, and yet favoritism in federal funding, jobs, promotions, and admissions could still be awarded to “persons of color,” even though they were the majority! As an afterthought, women—though by numbers they were in the majority—would still be favored. More important than gender, however, was color.
The full complement of the truly underrepresented are not those favored by the Diversity Agenda.
Selective preference. Why are certain groups preferred while others are not? Haven't American Jews suffered discrimination in housing and employment? What of Arab Americans, Irish Americans, and Polish Americans? Why are these groups not added to the preferred in hiring and placement? The non-white are not the only persons who have historically received, or who currently receive, discrimination.
Why not correct for all discrimination? Why restrict affirmative action and diversity to skin color and gender? Why not add gay Americans as a preferred class? “Gay bashing” and the killing of homosexuals is not an item of America's past alone. Of course applicants can lie about their sexual orientation, but they can lie as well about their race or ethnicity. I recall a student who, realizing that she served to gain from affirmative action, discovered a Latino among her ancestors and changed her name to Garcia to rake in the benefits.
Why are Muslim Americans, Christian Americans, atheist and agnostic Americans not a preferred category? What of senior Americans, disabled Americans, obese Americans, or Americans judged to be unattractive? Shouldn't they receive affirmative action? Isn't diversity in sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, and physical appearance important for countering discrimination, serving as role models, and enhancing education?
The powerful “me”. The answer, of course, is that the search for “diversity” has nothing to do with fairness or education. It is, first and foremost, all about me—my group, my people, my pain, my race, my gender, my skin, my body. “Diversity” is never about reaching beyond me to the other—unless you are a white male. Often, even in the case of the white male Diversifier, it is me convincing myself that I am unprejudiced. The louder I shout, the longer I condemn, the more white men I lash at—the surer is the proof that I am among the saved.
Secondly, Diversity is about power. This is why certain groups who regularly receive prejudice are not among the preferred. The Diversity Agenda favors the approved powerful—the African American, Latino American, Asian American, Women's, and other group that brings votes, cash, demonstrators, TV coverage, shouts, sticks, and threats in the street. That, after all, is what the politically powerful seek—more power and more votes.
The “preferred” are those who have power.
There was a time when today's “African American” was referred to by the non-offensive term “Black American.” During the late twentieth century this evolved into “Afro-American” and finally “African American.” Most of today's “Latino Americans” were once called “Mexican Americans.” Again during the late twentieth century this evolved into “Chicano (or Chicana) Americans,” and then into the superordinate category of “Hispanic” or “Latino (or Latina) American.”
Those who were once “Oriental Americans” are today's “Asian Americans.” “American Indians” have become “Native Americans.” And what of white Americans? Once called “Caucasians,” they are variously referred to as “European Americans,” “Anglo Americans,” or, as the College has categorized me, “White Non-Hispanic American.”
Many are unaware of the nuances of this vocabulary. The politicians in Washington, for example, have not yet learned what is ingrained into those of us in America's Southwest: Politically powerful Latino Americans find the term “Hispanic American” offensive because it derives from a term (“Hispanic”) meaning Spain. “Latino” is to be preferred because it derives from Latin America, omitting the distasteful European taint.
I have found a tendency for African Americans to refer to White Non-Hispanics as “white,” whereas Latino Americans refer to White Non-Hispanics as “Anglo.”
Who approves the naming of these racial categories? No one at the College has ever asked me the roots of my DNA, yet the College classifies me as “White Non-Hispanic.” Incidentally, why am I classified by what I am not (“non-Hispanic”)? Isn't this offensive? Would a woman like to be classified as a “non-Man”? Would a Latino like to be categorized as “non-Anglo” or an African American as “non-White”? Further, if you call me “White” you are not being accurate about my skin color. My skin is really a pale brown. In fact, I am browner than several of my Filipino friends, yet for the Diversifier they are “persons of color” while I am not.
And what of the term “person of color”? Am I colorless? transparent? without pigment? a hollow man? Am I not a “person of color” as well as any other human being? Further, am I, born in San Diego, not a “Native American”? The bands of hunters who spanned the Bering Strait to come to this continent came in waves, with each wave supplanted by the next. Only the first wave might be called “native,” and all the rest were non-native as much as I. Who granted to themselves this right to name and classify me?
When we hire a person for a job, promote a person, or admit an applicant, what standards should we use?
Those of us who oppose affirmative action have consistently argued that we want the best candidate for a position to be hired: We want the smartest, the best educated, the most caring and compassionate, the person with the best sense of humor and sensitivity. Race is not a factor, nor is gender, in the qualities that matter.
Those who favor the Diversity Agenda argue that they want a person of color, or a woman, so long as the person is qualified. To the non-Diversifier this sounds like hiring the person who satisfies the minimum requirements. How is it that “qualified” is sufficient? Why not ignore race and gender and let the chips fall where they may?
There was a time in the earlier days of affirmative action when it was argued that if the candidate was a person of color, or a female, and he or she failed to meet the minimum requirements (was in fact not “qualified”), the person should still be favored over a white male if the person was qualifiable. If, over time, the applicant could acquire the essential education and degrees, he or she ought to be preferred over the qualified, highly qualified, or more qualified white male.
Many who treasure affirmative action argue that when two applicants for hiring are “equal,” then the non-white and female should be preferred.
All standards other than “the best” are inadequate.
Selective application. Why not hire the “qualified” or the “qualifiable,” rather than the best, in athletics and Olympic competition? Why reserve minimum requirements as a standard for educators alone? Why not pass over the best astronauts, the smartest rocket scientists, the most skilled brain surgeons and favor the “qualified” women, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans, Filipino Americans, and Pacific Islander Americans in their place? Why does diverse skin color and gender outweigh excellence only in education?
No two are “equal.” In my experience in hiring, we did our best to avoid race or gender bias by assigning points to each applicant based on criteria such as education, courses in the specialty for which we were hiring, letters of references, research publications, and teaching experience. When we totaled the points, no two candidates were ever “equal.” Someone always rose to the top. There was, of course, a bit of inevitable subjectivity in assigning points, yet we strove to keep it to a minimum. How, then, can we choose the “preferred among equals” when there are no equals? And why should the “preferred” be non-white and female? Would a person of color or a woman be pleased if hiring favored a white man with equal points simply because he was white and male?
Losing our best white males. Who can question that the centuries of bias against persons of color and women have forever lost to us individuals who, if given a chance, might have become the world's best writers, doctors, philosophers, mathematicians, or leaders? How tragic that the best women writers our species has to offer had to write under a man's name to be published? How unforgiveable that a man or woman never learned to write because he or she was black or brown!
Then how can we be sure that we are not losing the best among us when we discriminate today against white males? When a great and wise American such as Colin Powell, for example, tells us that he was favored in the American military because of affirmative action, we must ask ourselves: How many white men who could have made better Generals were passed over? How is it that discrimination against women and “persons of color” deprives us of those who might best advance our species but discrimination against white men does not?
The Diversifiers had chosen a word that sounds like it means “varying in ideas and culture.” Hence they could freely ask: “What is there about diversity you are afraid of?” (see Backdrop) However, we must ask: What do you mean by “diversity”?
As the instructor who accused me of racism for opposing affirmative action asserted (see Positive on Affirmative Action):
Anglo students benefit from having diversity on campus. Diverse ideas, perspectives, cultures, etc.
This suggests that affirmative action and the Diversity Agenda favor those who are ethnically (culturally) or intellectually different. Only a bigot, after all, would close his mind to values, opinions, norms, customs, religions, and philosophies that are different from his own. Surely a college campus in particular ought to welcome diverse thinking.
Though the modern Diversifier shuns the term “race,” preferring its more antiseptic substitute, “ethnicity,” it is clear that when it comes to hiring, admissions, and promotions, “diverse” means anyone who is not white and male. Diversity is not variation in ideas. Diversity is not variation in perspectives. Diversity is not variation in culture. Diversity is variation in skin color and genitalia. Look again at the College's diversity categories, euphemistically labeled “Ethnic Background”—
- Black non-Hispanic
- American Indian/Alaskan Native
- Other non-White - Pacific Islander
- White non-Hispanic
If these are “ethnic,” and not racial categories, why the repetitions of “Black,” “non-White” and “White”?
The Diversifier's confusion of ethnicity with race explains why the same instructor who argued for “diverse ideas” was able to bemoan the fact that “white males” reject affirmative action while the non-white and females do not. (“White male,” after all, is not ethnicity but race and gender.) This is why he could look at a photograph of three new faculty members and observe: “They are all Anglo-American males.” (“Anglo”—English—is ethnicity, but those in the photo may not have been English.)
This is also why the same instructor could approvingly quote a black student who said (see Positive on Affirmative Action):
When I look around campus, I don't see any faculty of color. And I ask myself, why? (pause) I KNOW why.
Here “diversity” is visible to the eye. It is race and gender.
Affirmative action was not designed to compensate for lack of diverse customs and ideas but for racial and gender discrimination. Yet today the Diversifier, still using racial and gender categories in hiring preferences—is obsessed with ethnic diversity.
If diversity means different ideas. If diversity means diverse ideas, then the Diversifier ought to cease saying that his standards are race and gender. Drop the racial terms (“Black,” “non-White,” “White”) and gender fill-in boxes (“Male,” “Female”). If what you favor are diverse ideas, cease the preferences for persons of color and women and favor diverse ideas instead. If what you favor are diverse ideas, for every five new faculty why not hire one Christian, one Buddhist, one Hindu, one Muslim, and one agnostic? If what you favor are diverse perspectives, why not hire one Nazi, one Conservative, one Liberal, one Libertarian, and one Communist? If what you favor are diverse ethnicities, why not hire one Japanese, one Chinese, one Argentinean, one Ugandan, and one Swede?
When African American does not mean African American. What of African Americans whose skin is not black? Is a white American from South Africa an “African American”? Is an American from any country in Africa to be called an “African American”? Most affirmative action categories do not classify those from North Africa (Egypt or Morocco, for example) as African American, even though they are born in Africa. “African American,” apparently, does not mean “African American” to the Diversifier. If Diversifiers mean “Black American,” then they should change the category label to make it more accurate (and stop saying that they mean “ethnicity” when they really mean skin color). Perhaps then we can differentiate among shades of brownness and blackness and with greater precision exclude those whose skin color is too pale to be favored.
When Asian American does not mean Asian American. And what of those from India—clearly on the Asian continent—whose facial features and skin color differ from most other Asians? Do they look too much like the disfavored “White Non-Hispanic” to receive preferential treatment? Their culture, though influenced by the British Empire, with its Hindu philosophy is clearly “non-Anglo.” If, then, persons from India are not “Asian American,” change the title “Asian American” to some racial category that is more accurate.
Assuming that all white persons are alike and all white and non-white persons are different. Why is it that Diversifiers think that diverse culture and thinking is restricted to non-whites (or “non-Anglos”)? After the collapse of the Soviet Union, several of my best students were white Russians. They had much to offer in the realm of diverse politics and culture. Where is their “ethnic” category in the approved Diversity list? Because they are “White Non-Hispanic,” they were disfavored. They could not receive affirmative action.
What of the “white” who do not fit into the preferred categories—are they all alike? What of the “white” person from India or the “white” person from Libya—do Indians and Libyans think alike? Do “White non-Hispanic” Americans from Turkey have the same ethnicity as “White non-Hispanic” Americans from Norway? Does an “African American” from Britain think differently from a “White non-Hispanic” American from Britain?
If diversity means ethnicity, then the categories are too big. Why are groups with such differing cultures clumped into a common diversity category? Not every Cambodian, Korean, Laotian, Chinese, and Japanese shares the same culture, yet the Diversifiers classify them all as “Asian American.” Is the culture of all “African Americans” alike? Can we clump the culture of a South African with that of an Ethiopian or Rwandan? Are all Native Americans alike in culture? Why clump Navajo with Hopi and Cherokee?
If diversity means skin color and gender. On the other hand, if diversity means factors determined by DNA (skin pigmentation and genitalia), then the Diversifier ought to stop arguing that having “diversity” in faculty and students means “diverse ideas, perspectives, cultures.” Stop using categories such as “black” or “white” or “male” or “female.” These are not ethnic.
It is time to cease the obfuscation. When cornered for their focus on race, Diversifiers mislead, arguing that they are favoring diversity in culture and ideas. Yet the fact that a person is a “white male” or an “African American” or a “Latino American” does not tell you his religion, his philosophy, or his culture. It is skin color (non-white) and gender (non-male)—not diverse culture, not diverse ideas, not diverse perspectives, not diverse ethnicities, not competing philosophies or religions or customs—that the Diversifier prefers in hiring, promotion, and admission.
Diversifiers note: Ideas are not visible as faculty walk across campus. Opinions are not visible in a photograph. The Diversifier's claim to be seeking diverse ideas is contradicted by his obsession with skin color and gender.
It is time to cease stereotyping. What the Diversifier does in co-mingling—
1. diversity in skin color and gender, with
2. diversity in thought and culture—
is familiar to the student of prejudice. It is called stereotyping. The Diversifier is assuming that by preferring “non-Anglo” (meaning non-British but used to mean non-white) students and faculty he is favoring cultural and intellectual diversity. This is not necessarily the case.
The Diversity Agenda is anti-individualist. Are the culture, values, and thinking of an upper-class African American very different from those of an upper-class white American? Is it the case that when we meet a man we may predict that he enjoys sports and when we meet a woman that she enjoys cooking or sewing? No. Aren't we trying to build a society in which we rise above stereotypes and permit individuals to be different, to surprise us with who they are?
Groupism again. Diversifiers are groupies. Where most of us see individuals, they see masses, blobs, racial and gender stereotypes, ethnic entities. By selecting in favor of skin color or gender the Diversifier assumes he is choosing a person with culture, values, and thinking different from that of a white male. As most women, and many persons of color, will tell you: This is not so. Not all white males think alike. Not all are “Anglo.” Not all “persons of color” think alike. A person is not a category (see the ideas of Martin Buber).
The Diversifier is stereotyping. This leads inescapably to judging the person by his or her DNA. Is this the society we seek?
After decades of discrimination, a handful of Diversifiers began to feel uneasy. But they could not simply say: “I was wrong. This discrimination must cease.” The guilt—though submerged below self-aggrandizing piety—was too great. So they rationalize.
Some argue that affirmative action has completed its job. More persons of color and women are in positions of leadership, serve as CEO's, and are in the public eye than ever before. So affirmative action was a good idea in its day, but it's time now to let it go.
During the administration of President Clinton, persons of courage such as Ward Connerly began speaking against the discrimination of affirmative action. They have had to endure the inevitable accusations of racism shouted (ironically) by the discriminators themselves. Their brave and reasoned arguments created doubt. The reaction of the Diversifiers was to argue, “Mend it. Don't end it.” Do a touch-up job, but leave the program intact.
When I spoke to an African American colleague at the College who favored affirmative action, I asked her: “But what about the white men we are turning down for hiring because they are white and male? Is this fair to them?” Her answer: “Oh, they'll find jobs.” Diversifiers think jobs, admissions, and promotions come easy to white men. Because the non-preferred white man always finds a job, an admission, or a promotion, a little discrimination against him isn't so bad.
When I spoke to a White Non-Hispanic at the College who favored affirmative action, I asked him: “Why don't we tell our white male applicants, before they spend the money for a cross-continent flight for the job interview, that their skin color and gender put them at a disadvantage?” His answer: “Oh, they know how it works.” Diversifiers consider it acceptable to discriminate because white men already know they will be discriminated against.
Many Diversifiers argue that when jobs decline in number, the competition generates racism among white men and so they oppose affirmative action. When the economy is doing well, no one opposes “diversity.”
I concluded years ago (see The Unbridgeable Gulf) that data, logic, reason, and empathy were useless in any discussion with those who favor Diversity Dogma. Once a person has spent years discriminating, the inevitable guilt piles up; a closed mind is the only way to quench it.
It is never a good idea to discriminate. The person who believes that affirmative action was a good idea at first but now should be stopped is really saying: Discrimination against a person because of his gender or race was, for a time, a good idea. How can discrimination ever be a good idea? Does the white man who was turned down for a job, for admission, or for promotion have any less right to resist being “patient” than the woman or person of color who was rejected for reasons of color or gender?
End discrimination, don't mend it. The only just way to “mend” discrimination is to end it. The only acceptable form of affirmative action is outreach—nonselective outreach. Incidentally, doesn't justice demand that after decades of suffering discrimination under affirmative action white men must now be favored in hiring, admissions, and promotions?
Discrimination—even when it's called affirmative action or diversity—is wrong. There is nothing that can be said to persuade the person so addicted to discrimination that he or she justifies it by arguing that jobs come easy to the white male or that discriminating against white men is acceptable because white men expect it. The person who argues that affirmative action is only opposed because jobs are scarce is not basing his position on data or logic. Many of us have opposed the discrimination of affirmative action and the search for “diversity” in good times and bad. Opposition to affirmative action grew in the 1990s and early in the first decade of the present century, a time when jobs ranged from plentiful to scarce. And racism, though it does increase in bad economic times, is not the sole property of white men. Persons of color and women are capable of racism and sexism.
The Diversifier has a religion, and all opponents and opposing arguments are anathema. The daily investment in a belief that forces disfavoring one group while favoring another cripples logic and anesthetizes moral sensitivity. One must either admit years of wrongdoing and seek to correct it—a courageous and wrenching task—or wash away the guilt with rationalization. The social psychologist Leon Festinger, and his colleagues, said it well when studying the persistence of dogma in a small group in the early 1950s—
A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.
We have all experienced the futility of trying to change a strong conviction, especially if the convinced person has some investment in his belief. We are familiar with the variety of ingenious defenses with which people protect their convictions, managing to keep them unscathed through the most devastating attacks. (Festinger et al., 1956, p. 3)
Look again at the photo of the Challenger crew. Does the photo represent “diversity”?
If, as one head of the Diversity hydra insists, diversity is visible in a photo, then it is surely visible in this photo. To determine if this group is diverse you must count the women versus the men, the “persons of color” versus the colorless (the “White Non-Hispanics”). You will be copying the bigots who for centuries used these same racial and gender features to discriminate.
Counting, you find that of the seven astronauts, two are women and five are men. Because this does not equal the proportions of gender in the population, affirmative action failed here. The group is not diverse. Perhaps NASA should have replaced one or two of the male astronauts with women who were “qualified” or “qualifiable” to achieve true diversity.
Counting skin color and facial features, you find what appear to be five “White Non-Hispanics,” one “African American,” and one “Asian American.” Affirmative action didn't quite achieve its goal here. How can the “Latino/Hispanic” child seek to explore the stars without a “Latino/Hispanic” astronaut to serve as a role model? As the Diversifiers view the world, this “Latino/Hispanic” child couldn't possibly identify with a “White Non-Hispanic,” “African American,” or “Asian American” astronaut and so hope to board a rocket one day.
Where is the “Native American” astronaut to compensate for ongoing discrimination? Where are the “Filipino” and “Pacific Islander” astronauts to compensate for past discrimination? Perhaps NASA should have replaced several of the “White Non-Hispanic” astronauts with “persons of color” who were “qualified” or “qualifiable” to achieve true diversity.
Does counting racial and gender features like we are doing here make you uneasy? Do you feel comfortable making decisions on race or gender? Is this how you want your family, your friends, your neighbors to look at you or your fellow human beings? How is it, then, that the College, the University, the foundations that award scholarships and grants, the State or Federal Government, the affirmative actionites and the Diversifiers demand that I do the same?
How dare Diversifiers call us racist because we resist their racial and gender discrimination and seek to treat human beings equally!
If, as another head of the Diversity hydra insists, diversity is “diverse ideas, perspectives, cultures, etc.,” does the photo represent “diversity”? Remember: At least one Diversifier claimed he could see diversity in a photo. But how can you possibly tell?
Look at the astronauts' clothing. Do they have pockets, zippers, sleeves, and collars on their uniforms like the apparel of “Anglos”? Shame on them. This is not culturally diverse. Why doesn't one of the women have short hair? Why don't several of the men have long hair, mustaches, or beards? Why isn't one woman wearing an Islamic burqa and another an African gele, buba and iborun?
What are the ideas, the perspectives, or the culture of these astronauts? Is this group diverse? Could one astronaut be a Republican, another a Democrat, another awash in Swahili, Cambodian, or Aztec culture? How can you possibly tell? And who in hell cares? Why does this matter?
Would they have made better astronauts if one had spoken Tagalog, another Mandarin, and another Luganda? if one believed that women were inferior to men and ought to be subjugated and another did not? if one practiced female, and another male, circumcision? if one practiced slavery and another did not? if one ground corn with a mano and matate and another with a water-driven mill? if one played a zither, another a Sitar, and another Bongo drums? if one preferred hamburgers, another enchiladas, and another sushi? Where is the cultural diversity in this group? And what does this have to do with flying a space shuttle?
For those of us who have not joined the Diversity bandwagon, we look at the photo of these brave explorers of the Challenger and see the America, the world, we seek—a world where skin color and gender are not used in making decisions. We see a world of equal opportunity. We see a world where people are at harmony precisely because they do not make decisions based on the skin color and gender categories so prized by the Diversifiers. We see a world of unity and not one of racial and gender slicing. We see a world where each person is able to fulfill his or her potential—without regard to race, ethnicity, or gender.
On the other hand, what if you were to discover that these crew members were selected by affirmative action, by the demands of the Diversity Agenda? What if others who were smarter, better educated, more hardworking and skilled, more talented, kinder, more compassionate, and more empathic were rejected because of their skin color or gender? Do you take pleasure in this discrimination? Is this the world you want? Do you now “celebrate diversity”?
For those of us who believe that skin color and gender tell us nothing about the person—not his culture nor his compassion, not his intelligence nor his education, not his values, ideas, or customs—diversity in skin color and gender simply does not matter. We cannot discriminate for or against a person on this basis. It repels us to our deepest core.
For those of us who reject Diversity Dogma, we cannot celebrate a world of DNA-based favoritism and DNA-based rejection where skin color and gender are the basis for discrimination. We cherish this photo, and the humanity it represents, in the hope of a world of courage, unity, and equal opportunity to achieve one's best—a world which can never take place under the Diversity Agenda.
Appelbaum, R. P., & Chambliss, W. J. (1997). Sociology. New York: Longman.
Bernstein, D. A., Penner, L. A., Clarke-Stewart, A., & Roy, E. J. (2006). Psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Festinger, L., Riecken, H. W., & Schachter, S. (1956). When prophecy fails. New York: Harper.