Friday, July 22, 2005

Long post, but if you read only one long blog post today, hey, why not this one?

Finally a definition of diversity!

First, a little background on this (and only a little, because I’m rearing to fisk…). I received an email informing me that my couple of columns on diversity were being incorporated into the curriculum for a class on diversity.

This class on diversity is actually Expos I—now, Expos I: Diversity Writing. That’s right, they’ve gotten rid of a traditional Expos I in favor of a diversity oriented class. Some people thought I was overreacting when I so vociferously called out diversity, but my concerns have been proved valid, and in a shorter amount of time then I would’ve imagined, or indeed feared.

But, one positive aspect, as I may self-servingly point out, is that at least they are presenting my objections to diversity. They are at least attempting to include the problems alongside the benefits (although you can be sure of the way in which the professors will lean when they teach the class and of the skepticism and disdain with which my columns will be treated).

But enough background. The following was written by a member of the Diversity Initiative Group (the group that started the Expos class). It was submitted as a letter to the editor to the Collegian, although I don’t remember it being published, and a quick search didn’t turn it up (I have it because I was sent the portion of the curriculum dealing with my columns as a kind heads up that my work was being used.) This letter to the ed. purports to answer the critiques of my column, and therein, provides a definition of diversity. I can’t believe it! They’ve committed! I have it in writing. Let the fisking commence.

Recently in the Collegian, a series of editorials have discussed the merits of implementing—and possibly making mandatory--diversity education in the university. Even though we are excited by the fact that the Collegian has devoted such a great deal of space to these important, complicated, and often contentious issues, we do want to respond to many of the claims that Grant Reichert has made regarding diversity. We also must add, of course, that we are what Mr. Reichert has dubbed “diversophiles”—though with certain qualifications. We don’t necessarily think it is the responsibility of the university to “celebrate” the cultural differences that exist among groups of people—and we’re downright suspicious of such events as Black History Month that, in our opinion, fixate upon exotic differences of these groups and create a folklore of some leaders (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr.) at the expense of others (e.g., Malcolm X).
Oh... oh delicious! First, they bait us with “We’re skeptical of black history month” (which, not even I am), but then hit us with “because they don’t talk about Malcolm X, rather fixating on MLKJ. "

They have a vested interest in downplaying MLKJ’s influence. His remarks about treating people according the content of their character rather than the color of the skin go against the very basics of what the diversity movement stands for. He represents the civil rights establishment in the pre-entitlement days, when all they wanted was a fair chance and equal rights. Now, they want not a fair chance, but the odds in the favor of certain victim groups, and not equal rights, but a tiered system of rights that will lead to a strictly patterned distribution of races that just happens to coincide with their aggravated sense of social justice.

And the desired glorification of Malcom X? Whyso? Does the diversity establishment hate Jews? Because, uh, Malcom X sure did. Anti-Semitic, he. No le gusta judios. And did you know that he also met secretly with the KKK? From Dinesh D’Souza’s indispensable book, “The End of Racism:”

On January 28, 1961, Malcom X held a secret meeting with the Ku Klux Klan. He sought the Klan’s assistance in getting land for the Nation of Islam to carry out its separatist program. Malcolm X assured Klan leaders, who were understandably suspicious of him, that the Muslims firmly believed in segregation and that “the Jew is behind the integration movement, using the Negro as a tool. Malcolm X also told an increasingly enthusiastic Klan group that Elijah Muhammad had invited American Nazi leader George Lincoln Rockwell, who also hated Jews advocated racial separation, to speak to the Nation of Islam’s 1962 annual convention.

Hmm… let’s see: now why isn’t Malcolm X celebrated in black history month? Umm…? Jews? Is it their fault? It's the Jews, isn't it?

X was also, as Dinesh D’Souza put it, “the original apostle of black rage.” One of his most famous quotes is: “…by any means necessary.” In case you were wondering, the means referred to here aren’t hunger strikes, letter writing campaigns, arguing to change minds or any other means acceptable in a liberal, democratic and civil society, but, rather, violence. He also urged revolution, saying, “Revolution is bloody, revolution is hostile, revolution knows no compromise, revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way.” That so-called liberals would lionize such an illiberal, indeed barbaric, man is revealing.

Malcom X also, as a member of the nation of Islam, subscribed to some views that would make Tom Cruise blush (I mean, had he not sold his soul to L. Ron Hubbard in exchange for eternal shortness). You see, a theory of the Nation of Islam, as recorded in “The End of Racism,” is that “the white race was created by a satanic apprentice named Yacub in order to deceive black people, their civilizational superiors, and rule the world through ruthless exploitation.” Sounds plausible, in a “what flavor of kool-aide did you say this was?” kind of way.

Anyways, back to the letter to the ed:

Yet, we also don’t agree with Mr. Reichert’s initial definition of diversity,
the study of what makes individuals different.
I did go out on a limb and offer a definition. I chose the most basic definition possible. If diversity doesn’t mean “difference,” or some very related concept, then we can all agree that the term itself is mere euphemism, chosen for propaganda value. If it doesn’t mean what the common person thinks it means, then it is a device of trickery and rhetorical obfuscation.

As self-selected “diversophiles,” we argue that diversity is the study of how
societies and cultures are confronted with human difference—and what the
consequences are.
That’s …it? I feel violated. Cheated. Um… I’m sure there’s some more pertinent synonyms equivalent to my emotional state, but I feel too defiled, debauched, deflowered and defenestrated to find them. So diversity is “the study of how societies and cultures are confronted with human difference—and what the consequences are.” It’s obvious that applying this definition in every case in which the word “diversity” is now used would not work. For example, the constant talk of “increasing diversity” isn’t about increasing the “study of whatnot”—its about more of a desired race. But we’ll grant them this, for now.

But, anyways, how exactly is this different from my definition, that is, that diversity is difference? They say diversity is the study of how we confront human difference. But that just postpones the moment of reckoning. It is still inextricably inwrought with a concept of “difference.”

I was actually very close in my definition, and captured the essence of their definition. In fact, my definition is much more intuitive and aligned with the conventions of the English language. If “diversity” is the “the study of whatnot” then shouldn’t it be “diversityology?” Words that end in “–ity” are usually reducible down, in meaning, to the word that makes up the base, with additional qualifiers such as “the condition or quality of X” or “the fact or quality of X” (X being the word that makes up the base of the –ity word). Thus, diversity should be the fact or quality or condition of being diverse—which begs the question, but still enlightens us as to what basic form the definition should follow, to wit, NOT “the study of X.”

Although that is semantics, and maybe there are –ity words that allow to being “the study of X.” And even if not, surely the English language is no straitjacket, and can allow for some malleability in this regard. So, again, we’ll grant them this. But the point remains: they don’t actually disagree with my definition, that is, with the basic concept of “difference” that I say lies at the heart of diversity; they just wish to phrase it as a “study of X” type formation—which really is just a way for them to seem more technical, not an actual substantive, CONCEPTUAL shift. My definition just has a simplicity, elegance, and, indeed, honesty, that theirs lacks.

Back to the letter:

Thus, a diversity-based curriculum should cover these areas:

How are human beings categorized in society? What are the motivations behind this categorization?

You mean how are they categorized by you guys? Group 1: White males, Asians, Jews. Group 2: Everyone else with less average material wealth. Motivations? Marxism.

What are the social consequences for how human beings are classified?
Well, you diversophiles are perpetuating the notion that race is socially significant, that it is a valid indicator for a person’s personality type. I’d say the social consequences for that are pretty steep.

How do these differences reveal themselves in culture, the popular media, advertisement, etc.?What can be done to avoid the negative consequences? (e.g., racism, sexism, linguistic chauvinism, stereotyping, etc.)
Well, if you want to avoid stereotyping, I suggest you stop doing it yourselves. That means no more saying “blacks will add to the diversity of a white group” because, unless you are interested in the barest notion of color itself, you are insinuating that these blacks all act a certain way, different from the way whites act, and so bring the group difference. Did I mention that you should be ashamed? Because you should. And linguistic chauvinism? I like that. Really, I find that phrase amusing. I’ve always been oppressed by the fact that men are referred to by the diminuitive word “men” whereas women receive the much fuller and bisyllabic “women.” Entitlements. Bring them to me.

Importantly, we do agree with Mr. Reichert on several issues. We agree, for example, that race, class, and gender are arbitrary human characteristics; however, even though they are “arbitrary,” this is not to say that they are unimportant—or that diversophiles just bring them up to have something to whine about. Hair color, eye color, and height are also arbitrary factors—and, at least in our present society and time—they are not important (this is no longer the case with issues of weight, in which obesity, for example, has begun to operate as a way to demonstrate that certain human beings are lazy). Thus, we need to concentrate upon race, class, gender, and ethnicity because these are the ways human beings are classified in the United States.
Now, that sir, is chutzpah. Like an orphan killing his parents and then begging for leniency on the fact that he is an orphan. Diversophiles justify the need to concentrate on “race, class, gender, and ethnicity” based on the fact that that’s the way people are classified in the US. But who is classifying people this way? I’ll give you a couple of hints: it starts with D, and doesn’t rhyme with “race pimps." That’s right, diversophiles are justifying their concentration on race based on the fact that they also classify on race. My head is spinning.

Diversophiles, again, did not create these categories [they just perpetuate them--grant]—they only want now to understand how these categories function, what their consequences are, and discuss strategies for overcoming some of these consequences.
That’s fine. I’m not against studying race, gender, social class etc. But these should take place within sociology and psychology classes, or other relevant areas, not be imposed on all classes in the form of some overarching concept of diversity. And, if you guys are just worried about the “study of” these things, then why all the hubbub about needing more people of color in classes? What’s up with that, dog? And, presumably, the mere “study of” such critical factors shouldn’t be accompanied by value judgments about them. That is, even as race is “studied,” that is no justification for affirmative action—which is exactly what diversity is.

We also agree that it is a problem that certain groups of people—perhaps Mr. Reichert’s self-announced group of white, middle-class, males—feel threatened by evaluating the viewpoints of other groups of people.
Did I say that I felt threatened evaluating the viewpoints of other groups of people? Methinks certainly not! Why are they agreeing with something I didn’t say? *cue Twilight Zone music*. Something is awry, and terribly so!

And I like the slyness here: “perhaps” us whities don’t like other viewpoints intruding on our own culturally dominant ones. This is, of course, implicitly racist. First, it singles out whities as too bullheaded to accept differing viewpoints—definitely a common stereotype. But there is also this whole concept of viewpoints belonging to groups of people (and by groups of people, of course the mean races of people.) Here they are peddling the racist notion that different races possess a monolithic “viewpoint,” that is, that all members of a race adhere to a certain viewpoint and so think alike. Yep, one black person is just the same as the next. A bunch of automatons, them. No individuals here. Move along, folks.

Research demonstrates that minority instructors are deeply concerned about silencing the views of their students who may feel that their comments would be perceived as “racist.”
Who is this “Research” chap? Does he have a name? Credentials? Permanent place of residency? And it doesn’t matter how "concerned" these minority instructors are. If the tenor of any particular class is like the tenor of this letter, with its racist notions of whites unable to accept other viewpoints, then students will be intimidated regardless of the “concern” that the professor have for them.

Really, I wonder how this research was conducted. I bet the survey question read something like: “Do you feel concern when students feel uncomfortable talking in class, or are you a cold, heartless son of a bitch?”

The diversity classroom, thus, becomes an important space to talk about these issues.
Because of the Research! He hasn’t lied to us before! But wait, I cited some Research in my columns too! Aaack, cognitive dissonance, it burns!

Diversophiles are equally divided about how to confront the issue of cultural relativism: what do you do about societies—such as that of Saudi Arabia—who practice cultural forms that you find reprehensive?
Yeah, they're divided into two groups: the groups that want to surrender to cultural relativism French-style, and the others that want to aid it through the UN with an oil for food scheme.

Finally, we agree that individuals and individuality are important. Diversity education needs to be complicated and nuanced enough to examine how individuals can diverge radically from the groups that are often perceived as representing them.
But not so much that they would actually think differently, because, man, that would totally screw up the whole basis for this diversity shit we been peddlin’.

And, diversophiles, don't so coyly say that individuals can differ from the groups that are “often perceived” as representing them. It’s you guys that are pushing this particular drug! “Often perceived,” indeed. By you guys!

Indeed, another aspect of diversity education is to analyze how individuality itself is cherished in some societies—the United States, for example—and looked upon suspiciously in others (such as some traditional Native American tribal cultures).
Don’t let the use of the word “individuality” fool you. If you want, simply replace it with "distinct human beings." This is a biological, concrete concept, so you should be able to wrap even your warped, cultural relativist minds around it.

I simply ask that you treat each person as a distinct human being.

From this fact of distinctness, humanness, and beingness (or, rather, “existence”) draw whatever conclusions you want as to how you should treat a man (or indeed, women—no linguistic chauvinist am I). Again, unless you want to posit that being human, that existing or that being distinct are "cultural constructs," then you are committed to whatever moral obligations such characteristics entail, as they are culturally universal. If you draw the conclusions of the “diversity” establishment from these characteristics of distinctness, humanness, and existence, that people are the residuum of their race, class and gender, with their viewpoints derived wholesale thusly, then you are a racist and a bigot and opposed to the machinery that makes a liberal society viable. That is a universal judgment, and statement of fact. What do you have to say, diversophiles?

We could argue, therefore, that Mr. Reichert’s valorization of individuality is a product of his own culture.
I see. You have denied human rights as a cultural construct (for what are human rights, if not those rights drawn simply from the fact that something is human, exists and is distinct?). Your cultural relativism permeates, and therefore enervates your every thought and moral judgment. You are, indeed, a morally neutered being, and an apologist for death of millions of human beings at the behest of an alien culture. For when you obliterate the concept of the individual you give justification to the obliteration of ACTUAL individuals--living, breathing, human, distinct and existing men and women. Not to put to fine a point on it, but you diversophiles just aren't very cool guys, yunno?

But, before I go, I gotta make one other point about this phrase:

We could argue, therefore, that Mr. Reichert’s valorization of individuality is
a product of his own culture.
Yes you could argue that, but that isn’t an argument at all (or if it is an argument, it’s an irrelevant non sequitur of an argument). They’ve simply claimed my argument is a result of the culture I grew up in. Even if true, even if all my autonomy is denied me and I am simply a hollow Golem animated solely by the forces of cultural determinism: so what? Are you going to engage this argument, yunno, actually argue with, and try to answer it?

At best, they’ve CLASSIFIED my argument, or given a description of its genealogy. But… can… they… answer… it?

So far, no, not without resort to a sickly cultural relativism, by denying human rights altogether.

And they call themselves “liberal?”

the "because it wasn't long enough already" update: Incidentally, the title of the Letter is "Diversophilia." I don't know what that is, but it sounds like something you might get stoned for in Saudi Arabia. But, dude, that's just their culture, man! What are individuals, anyways?

Update the Last, son of "the 'because it wasn't long enough already' update: That's what happens when you deny absolute, natural rights to people. Their rights become fluid, and change at the whim of the ruling class. The diversity establishment has already succeeded in debasing the absolute rule of law here in America with affirmative action, which grants different rights for different individuals. This is a bad thing. c.f. "The Abolition of Man" by C.S. Lewis.


Post a Comment

<< Home