Thursday, February 03, 2005

Post updated... for the children

A Fisking

I am sure that Grant, as a white male from Kansas, is a well-qualified expert on the subject of diversity.
I like how diversophiles say things that would be a racist comment if it you rephrased it for a different race. What if he had written that black peoples views shouldn't matter on some subject, merely because of the color of there skin? But I'm white, so fair game for diversophiles. They just can't stand that a white boy would have the temerity to challenge their pseudo-religions Diversity dogma.

This is even the second such remark that has graced the paper, the first one coming in the fourum. It plays into the base stereotype of whites as insensitive and blind to the difference of others. I'm not qualified to talk about diversity, because I'm white. I feel doubly slighted by this, as I have put in extensive time researching this subject.

But I enjoy the collegian posting such things--it exposes the hypocrisy of the diversophiles.

However, being that I am a white male from Nebraska, I am infinitely more qualified to discuss the subject. You may not know this, but Nebraska is a bastion of diversity; we grow wheat and corn.
He makes a good point: Nebraska is pitiful. Credit where credits due.

The irony of two middle-class, white men discussing this topic is not lost on me.
Again, another veiled racial slur--I mean, if I weren't white of course. I don’t care if Aaron thinks he is unqualified to write on diversity, but I don’t want to have him assuming ignorance on my part just because of the color of my skin. Of course, this might have just been an ironic joke, so you know? Benefit of the doubt and such.

Nonetheless, I feel that someone must stand up for the ideals of diversity. After all, diversity in higher education is such a compelling issue that the Fulton County (Georgia) Daily Report of December 15, 2004, recalled that the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a recent case involving the University of Michigan’s law school that the state has a compelling interest in ensuring a diverse student body.
Yeah, and this is what I disagree with. That’s what we’re arguing about. Justice O’Connor in Grutter v. Bollinger, the case in question, pretty much accepted at face value everything the University of Michigan told her about the importance of diversity. I don’t believe the state has a compelling interest, despite what the Supreme Court says, in promoting diversity. You can't just cloak an assertion by putting it in the mouth of someone of authority, and think it can pass as an argument.

The case centered on a group of white students who brought a suit against the law school, which had awarded extra points in the application process to students in racial minorities. Remember that this Supreme Court is one of the most conservative in memory. Additionally, the case was so important that many of America’s top Fortune 500 companies filed “friends of the court briefs” defending diversity.

Last week, Grant argued that we need less racial and ethnic diversity and more diversity of opinion.

This is a crudeparody of my argument. I wrote that we should worry less about FORCING diversity based on arbitrary characteristics—not that I we should actively deny racial and ethnic diversity, as Aaron writes. I Don't think we need less racial diversity--I think we need to reevaluate the concept of diversity, inherently flawed, and immoral as it is. I say ditch the diversity mantra and associated programs and just let whatever may happen, happen.

To phrase my argument as Aaron does makes it look like I’m advocating the forcing of minorities out of school. This is a pitiful strawman argument.

Also, I didn’t even say we need “more diversity” of opinion. In fact, I argued that the phrase “more diversity” was incoherent, insofar as we are all individuals, and so unique.
Aaron had all weekend to pore over my column and analyze it. And this is what he got from it?

However, there are several flaws in his argument. First, he operates under the false assumption that affirmative action and other diversity initiatives require quotas. This is simply not true, because the Supreme Court ruled that quotas were unconstitutional in 1978.
This is baldfaced misrepresentation of what I said. This is what I wrote:

Therefore, while in its operation, “diversity” usually works like affirmative
action or quotas, it’s nonetheless done under the pretense of promoting a
“viewpoint.” [emphasis added]
I don’t say that diversity requires quotas, I said that “in its operation” diversity works “like…quotas.” Saying something is “like” something is explicitly saying that it ISN'T that thing you are comparing it to. For example, saying that forks are like spoons isn’t saying that forks ARE spoons. Its saying that they share a certain common bond, such as that they are both silverware.

I'm correct in saying that the "operation" of diversity is "like" quotas. From Peter Wood’s “Diversity: Invention of a Concept:”

For a Law School student body of roughly 1,200 students at the University of Michigan, a critical mass of African-Americans is about 8 percent (96 students); for Hispanics, a critical mass is about 4 percent (24 students). It is odd and convenient that the “critical mass” for a minority appears to occur in rough proportion to the relative size of its population in Michigan.
That is why I said its “like” quotas in its “operation.” Because "diversity" produces a set number of each race in proportion with its numbers in the population at large. But, you know, Aaron can score some cheap points if he simply lies about what I wrote.

Second, he fails to realize that people of different races and ethnicities inherently undergo different experiences. Communication scholars like Deborah Tannen argue that women and men not only have different styles of communication, but also different perspectives on the world. Other intercultural communication scholars and anthropologists have the same perspective on people of different races and ethnicities.
Yes, certain races DO undergo different experiences. I never deny this. I merely say that all individauls think differently as well. I just don’t think inviting in the members of those cultures that score substantially less on objective tests is better for my education, than if you admitted the best students of any culture. Again, I’m not for forcing the exclusion of other cultures, so have fun destroying that strawman.

For example, some cultures have a communal perspective that clashes directly with the American individualistic culture. Interaction between these cultures fosters understanding between them and exposure to unique ways of problem solving.
Assertion. “Unique” ways of problem solving? How about just finding the “best” way? I am not a cultural relativist. There IS a best way. You can find it regardless of your culture. And again, I am not for the forced exclusion of these cultures; its just that we shouldn’t admit the less qualified members of just because of what culture they come from.

And this talk of “cultures” is obfuscation. Diversity as affirmative action works on skin color and gender, end of discussion. They don’t ask you your “culture.”

Even people who might appear to be of a similar culture and background can have fundamentally different perspectives. For example, a minority student from my high school and with my socioeconomic background would have a very different perspective of attending a predominately white school than I have.

But is this perspective relevant to my education? And is it relevant enough to force a better qualified student out to let in this unqualified student just because he has a different "experience." Personally, I would rather talk with a more qualified, and thus intelligent student, about political science, than a kid that had a certain perspective in highschool. What good is he going to be in drawing comparative analyses between the US and Finlands healthcare systems?

In his last column, Grant clamored for more differences of viewpoint, which he likened to having more Metallica fans. Such an analogy between someone’s ethnic or racial identity and someone’s musical preferences is not only terribly misguided but demeaning to those individuals’ identities.
Grant fails to understand the depth and breadth of those individuals’ experiences. *Sigh* I was merely showing that “diversity” isn’t about bringing together people that are different—rather, its about the immutable characteristics of race and gender. Again, this is a caricature of my argument, to say that I was comparing being a Metallica fan to being of a certain racial identity. Only insofar as they are both aspects of "difference"—I was making no qualitative claims as to which is better. This is just another slur built off a distortion of what I actually wrote.
I doubt that Grant can offer a single example where society suffered from having
too much diversity.
That’s a high standard. As long as we don’t suffer from diversity, its peachy-keen. Aaron is also exploiting the dual use of the word “diversity.” I was using it to indicate the various campus programs, such as affirmative action, diversity training and diversity events, that typically fall under its rubric. Aaron falls back to diversity simply meaning “difference”—a point which is incoherent, as I showed in my first column.

But even by this standard, his argument is ridiculous on its face. Name one time diversity has caused suffering in a society? Look at the millions of ethnic, tribal, and racial conflicts throughout world history. Aaron’s remark is breathtakingly ignorant.

Wars are fought all over the world because people don’t understand each others’ religions and cultures.
Okay, here we’re back to earth. But doesn’t this completely contradict your previous statement, that you can’t have diversity and suffering? Buellor?

Aaron’s flaw, again, is the shifting meaning of diversity. Here he assumes that diversity is accompanied by racial and cultural understanding. Thus his reasoning is circular: if diversity means tolerance, then OF COURSE diversity doesn’t lead to suffering. But diversity DOESN'T entail tolerance, and in fact is inimical to it.

I know that K-State isn’t the United Nations Headquarters, but if we can have just a little more understanding and a little more diversity, why wouldn’t we do it?
Because money doesn't grow on trees. Because the time would be better spent elsewhere. Because it violates individuals rights. Because it is inherently racist. You know, all the arguments I made in my columns.

Grant reminds me of that Dr. Seuss character who refuses to eat green eggs and ham, even though he's never actually experienced them and doesn’t know what he’s missing. Maybe one day he will experience the benefits of diversity, and, like the poor, misguided character in “Green Eggs and Ham," he’ll change his ways.
This drips of condescension. I’m just blind; maybe one day I’ll see if I open my mind. I hate when people make comments like this—they assume that only ignorance could possibly explain one’s difference of opinion. If they could only see the light. That’s why I ended my column with an extended hand “No matter what your opinion, I ask only that you question it.”

Sigh... I try. Well, that's about all the diversity I can handle for one lifetime.


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