Diversity Is Now Our National Faith
past Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States of America again
ignored the most relevant portions of the U.S. Constitution and
handed down a mixed and convoluted decision on affirmative action.
Court had two cases to decide, Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter
v. Bollinger. The former involved an undergraduate admissions
policy at the University of Michigan with a point system awarding
20 points to members of "underrepresented groups" on the
basis of race alone. Underrepresented, in bureaucratese,
usually means black and Hispanic. (It almost never means Asian or
Jewish.) A white student denied admission under this policy understandably
cried foul; if this was not blatant reverse discrimination, then
what was? The Court struck down the point system as unconstitutional
in a 6-3 decision. I rather imagined it would.
latter case involved preferential admissions based on race into
the University of Michigan Law School without any specific point
system but clearly admitting less qualified blacks over more qualified
whites. Again a white student denied admission cried foul. The fact
that an applicant was black would ensure that his or her application
would be set aside for more consideration than that given to white
applicants to achieve a more "diverse student body." Everybody
knew this. Law schools had become notorious for this sort of practice,
often reserving ten percent of incoming student seats for "minorities."
According to the Court’s Hopwood decision back in the 1990s
this is a no-no. But obviously that decision didn’t stop preferential
one won’t, either. It doesn’t attempt to. The Supremes upheld the
University of Michigan Law School’s preferential admissions program
means that we are probably stuck with "diversity" as a
rationale for preferential admissions in "public" (i.e.,
government) universities and professional schools for the foreseeable
future, as well as preferential hiring in both universities and
the workplace. Let’s face it: "diversity" has become the
official faith of this country, the culmination of 15 or so years
of political correctness on top of 40 or so years of affirmative
action and increasingly uncontrolled immigration. The legal bottom
line is no longer the Constitution but "compelling [government]
is a brief excerpt from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s majority opinion:
"We first wish to dispel the notion that the Law School’s argument
has been foreclosed, either expressly or implicitly, by our affirmative-action
cases since Bakke. It is true that some language in those opinions
might be read to suggest that remedying past discrimination is the
only permissible justification for race-based governmental action.
But we have never held that the only governmental use of race that
can survive strict scrutiny is remedying past discrimination. Nor,
since Bakke, have we directly addressed the use of race in
the context of public higher education. Today, we hold that the
Law School has a compelling interest in attaining a diverse student
heard a number of rationales for "diversity" over the
years. Some argue that "diversity" is important on college
campuses because students learn more from those who are different
from than they do from those who are alike. Of course, it is questionable
how many of today’s university students are learning anything, but
that is another article. What, precisely, is learned? Justice O’Connor
again: "As the District Court emphasized, the Law School’s
admissions policy promotes ‘cross-racial understanding,’ helps to
break down racial stereotypes, and ‘enables (students) to better
understand persons of different races.’ These benefits are ‘important
and laudable,’ because ‘classroom discussion is livelier, more spirited,
and simply more enlightening and interesting’ when the students
have ‘the greatest possible variety of backgrounds.’" Even
if these rather vague and somewhat touchy-feely goals were valid,
and that preferential admissions accomplished them, where the U.S.
Constitution authorizes federal involvement in bringing them about
is a mystery to me. What the 14th Amendment says is that
"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge
the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor
shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property,
without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction
the equal protection of the laws."
is, of course, nothing wrong with learning about other peoples and
other cultures. But that isn’t the goal of education for "diversity."
Let’s not be naïve here. The past decade of politically correct
education has seen the rise of increasingly brazen attacks on a
particular culture: the West, seen as a repository of "oppressive"
notions and institutions produced by dead white males. The division
of civilization into "oppressors" (straight white men)
and "victims" (everyone else) helps highlight the Marxist
origins of political correctness and educational rationales for
"diversity." If one reads the Marxist philosopher Herbert
Marcuse’s classic essay "Repressive Tolerance," one discovers
the original rationale for the thought control of political correctness
as well as the reverse discrimination that is sending whites to
rationales for "diversity" hold that the demographics
of the country are changing in such a way that different groups
have no alternative except to get along with one another. Again,
obviously, we are all better off if different peoples can deal with
one another freely and peacefully rather than through violence and
conflict. The problem is, race-conscious policies have the campus
and the country more divided than ever. The fault lines between
blacks and whites are wider than ever, and have been joined by fault
lines between men and women, between blacks and Hispanics in some
locations, between native-born Americans and immigrants, and so
on. One answer to "changing demographics" is an idea that
terrifies politicians: repealing the disastrous Kennedy-sponsored
Immigration Act of 1965. (Arguably, unlimited immigration is destroying
the various indigenous cultures of Europe even as the various nations
contemplate surrendering their sovereignty to the globalist European
Bush – who had earlier weighed in with an amicus curiae brief
– praised the Court’s Monday decision. He stated, "I applaud
the Supreme Court for recognizing the value of diversity on our
Nation’s campuses. Diversity is one of America’s greatest strengths.
Today’s decisions seek a careful balance between the goal of campus
diversity and the fundamental principle of equal treatment under
the law." There is only one problem here. There can be no "balance"
between these because they involve conflicting principles. The "goal
of campus diversity" involves by its very nature the unequal
treatment under the law for those considered a "majority"
by bureaucrats. Preference in this context means unequal
treatment, at least in a world where words have distinct referents.
recall a Republican Party – one that existed back in the 1980s and
persisted to some degree up until around 1992 – whose leading voices
realized this and were ready to scrap affirmative action lock, stock
and barrel. That, of course, was before the neocons took it over.
Their coup was accomplished during the disastrous Clinton years.
However, if the Republicans lurched leftward during the 1990s, the
Democrats have lurched even further leftward. Upon hearing of the
impending Supreme Court decision, Presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt
said last Sunday what he would do: "When I’m President, we’ll
have executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court
does tomorrow…." Can anyone imagine what life would be like
under a Gephardt Regime?
has the "diversity" faith actually affected academia and
education? In academia at least, white women have been the primary
beneficiaries of affirmative action programs. One need only survey
the websites of many academic departments to see how women have
all but taken them over. Women have also partially taken over university
administrations. Men are being elbowed out or, if they are old enough,
taking early retirement from an environment that has grown increasingly
hostile to them. It is true that the majority of college and university
presidents are white men. However, no one really thinks that a white
guy not in sympathy with "diversity" has any chance of
being considered for such a position. This leads to an important
point: what really matters in these institutions is not one’s race
or gender but one’s ideology. And in ideology, there is no diversity.
Rather, a single set of ideas has run completely amok.
we have militant feminists who declare consensual sexual intercourse
between a man and a woman to be a form of rape (Catharine MacKinnon,
of the University of Michigan Law School), who describe a romantic
candlelight dinner as a form of prostitution (Alison Jaggar, of
the University of Colorado at Boulder), who depict Newton’s and
Bacon’s ideas as constituting a "rape manual" (Sandra
Harding, of UCLA), and countless other instances of such nonsense
that say more about their authors’ state of mind than they do about
their subject matter. There are hundreds of feminist writers in
academia whose views are only moderated or parroted versions of
this sort of thing.
in some "women’s studies" programs have taken to compelling
students to sign ideological loyalty oaths in some universities
as a condition for enrolling in advanced courses. A case at the
University of South Carolina comes to mind, where Professor Lynn
Weber, who directs Women’s Studies at USC, was requiring students
to sign such an agreement prior to enrollment in such a course.
Students were required to "[a]cknowledge that racism, classism,
sexism, heterosexism, and other institutionalized forms of oppression
exist" and "[a]cknowledge that one mechanism of institutionalized
racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, etc., is that we are all
systematically taught misinformation about our own group and about
members of other groups. This is true for members of privileged
and oppressed groups." Note the Marxist dichotomy. Students
must "combat actively the myths and stereotypes about our own
groups and other groups so that we can break down the walls which
prohibit group cooperation and group gain," and must "[c]reate
a safe atmosphere for open discussion." Open discussion? If
everyone agrees, because everyone has signed the loyalty oath, what
is the point of calling the discussion "open."
there is no evidence that genuine, ideological diversity is being
promoted, or is the goal of those who have seized power in these
institutions. What has been put in place is a single, collectivist,
hard-left standpoint (or, possibly, a sufficiently large range of
standpoints making discussion of minutia possible without challenging
any of the Marxist and collectivist fundamentals).
blacks who have benefited from affirmative action hiring, the situation
is equally bad. All one need do is recall the case of Leonard Jeffries
and his pseudo-scientific thesis about "sun people" and
"ice people," and how the latter (whites) were inferior
because they were "melanin-deprived," making them competitive
and oppressive rather than communal and peaceful. Uh, like Zimbabwe’s
Robert Mugabe and the other thugs presently murdering whites or
driving them from their land without compensation, and turning the
African continent into a wasteland of starvation and disease?
consider the former math professor at Vanderbilt, Jonathan David
Farley, whose assault on Confederate symbols and historical organizations
in Tennessee last year raised brows as much for its historical illiteracy
as its inflammatory content.
are the fruits of "diversity." Let us cut to the chase.
Affirmative action has just about destroyed the Western university.
We have seen a parade of pseudo-scholars whose main interest is
their political agendas, and who are unafraid to impose them on
students (and other faculty) by force. We now have hard data showing
that the male population on campus has actually begun to drop, in
the wake of the radical feminist assault. Men simply aren’t enrolling
in four-year universities in the same percentages as women. At the
University of Georgia, for example, the ratio is slightly under
three women for every two men. Men sense the hostile environment,
and are steering clear. Where they are going is anyone’s guess.
Some are probably going to technical schools where political correctness
is not stressed and where they can learn a few job skills and perhaps
read a few good books on the side. Others are probably taking up
truck driving or going to trade schools of the sort that spring
up around occupations such as real estate, where a man can earn
a good living without a college degree.
action has also destroyed the credibility of major media. Think
of the Jayson Blair fiasco, the fallout from which has led to the
resignation of two top administrators at the New York Times.
Blair was caught red-handed having written fabricated stories for
the Times, stories that either plagiarized other articles
or inventing conversations with sources he hadn’t interviewed. The
man, an affirmative action charity case from the start, is very
possibly incapable of serious journalism. (This being the affirmative
action era, however, Blair’s foibles might not prevent him from
landing the lucrative book deal he is seeking; we’ll have to stay
corporations, finally, have come out in favor of "diversity"
as "good for business." Here is a list of corporations
that had sided with the University of Michigan on this case: General
Motors, American Airlines, Eastman Kodak, Microsoft, PepsiCo, and
Proctor & Gamble, among more than 40 total Fortune 500 companies.
This only shows how the corporate mentality as it currently exists
is now no more trustworthy than the government mentality, if one’s
interest is in the defense of individual freedom and our country’s
founding principles, including the principles that originally made
corporate America possible. Let’s face it: most corporate CEOs and
ladder climbers, most of them products of government-school brainwashing,
have no more interest in or grasp of these principles than does
your average tradesman or truck driver.
affirmative action programs were somehow ended today, it would take
an entire generation to undo the damage. But they won’t be ended
today, and they won’t be ended tomorrow or any time soon. The Supreme
Court has seen to that, with its latest ruling which is no improvement
over Bakke (1978), where the cult of "diversity"
got its start.
is at least possible that they couldn’t be ended, any more than
could the Church of England have been abolished in its day. The
cumulative evidence, which ranges from bipartisan support in Rome
on the Potomac, alongside its complete control over what we use
to call higher education, and its growing control over large corporations,
suggests that "diversity" has become this country’s official
faith – despite its legacy so far: an avalanche of pseudo-scholarship,
historical illiteracy, unchecked immigration, growing divides between
affected groups, and a decline in living standards for an increasing
percentage of Americans who happen to have been born white and male.
can those skeptical of the "diversity" faith do? I have
long wrestled with this question. I can certainly understand those
who, like Paul Weyrich, have declared the culture war lost and see
no point in fighting it on territories controlled by a very determined
enemy. There is simply no way to battle the new faith on campuses
without tenure. Many a white male professor has learned that his
life can be turned into a living hell by the local feminist or radical
black student contingent even if he does have tenure. I lost count
a long time ago of the number of cases of faculty members either
reprimanded, deprived of course loads to the point of having to
file suit against their institutions, fired outright, or who have
found themselves seeking jobs elsewhere, or were forced into early
retirement, as a result of nasty confrontations with the local high
priests and priestesses of the new faith.
struggle is rapidly being lost in the workplace as well. Huge resources
are being poured into corporate "diversity" programs,
some of them coming from enormously wealthy foundations such as
that of Bill and Melinda Gates as well as old standbys such as the
immense Ford Foundation which has been bankrolling leftist projects
for decades. Again, straight white men who have dissented have found
themselves simply relieved of their duties, as was Rolf Szabo, fired
from Kodak after he refused to apologize for sending out a memo
criticizing the homosexual agenda. Szabo had been with the company
for 23 years. This is only a taste of what will come as groups ranging
from militant feminists, radicalized blacks, illegal immigrants
and homosexuals continue to use the "diversity" faith
as a steppingstone to power in corporate America as well as in government.
are alternatives, and they are growing. It is important for dissidents
to support these alternatives. Among colleges and universities,
they range from long-time holdouts such as Grove City College in
Grove City, Pa., to newcomers such as Patrick Henry College, in
northeastern Virginia. It is important to pursue online education,
available from a variety of outlets; the Internet remains a repository
of important information no one can censor, at least not as of yet.
The alternative to involvement with corporate America is entrepreneurship.
Finally, it is important to support organizations dedicated to the
furtherance of research into the foundations of individualist and
entrepreneurial ideas. These include the Ludwig von Mises Institute
and the Center for Libertarian Studies – especially as the large
think tanks up in and around Rome on the Potomac are now controlled
by neocons whose only interest, just like the politically correct
crowd, is their political agenda.
"diversity" faith may well be with us for the rest of
our lives, but in the end it will fail, as do all false idols. It
could well leave a wrecked civilization in its wake. For a system
that utterly refuses to recognize the importance of merit, individual
action and responsibility, and which submerges the individual into
the collective identity of a racial or other group, cannot work
in the long run. It does not reflect the realities of human action,
which is always individual human action, and the preconditions
of sustaining civilization, which include eschewing programs and
policies leading to greater centralization and concentrations of
power. The Soviets learned this the hard way.
Yates [send him mail]
is an adjunct scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. A professional
writer and editor with a PhD in philosophy, he is the author of
Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action
(San Francisco: ICS Press, 1994). His latest book manuscript, In
Defense of Logic,
is undergoing revisions. He works out of Columbia, South Carolina.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com