Delusion on Campus

In her new book The Diversity Delusion, Heather Mac Donald takes on identity politics far more forthrightly than Francis Fukuyama dared to in his new book Identity, which I reviewed last week.

Just compare their subtitles: Mac Donald chose How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture, while Fukuyama went with The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, even though “dignity” is hardly the first word suggested by identity politics. As I foresaw:

Nor do I expect the upcoming Supreme Court nomination hearing/teen sex comedy to be a high point in the history of American dignity.

The Diversity Delusion... Heather Mac Donald Best Price: $9.54 Buy New $15.31 (as of 07:45 EDT - Details) Interestingly, both Fukuyama and Mac Donald studied literary theory at Yale under deconstructionist Paul de Man, a remarkable con man who successfully sailed with whatever tide was flowing, whether the Nazi occupation in his native Belgium or French high theory in America. But eventually both Fukuyama and Mac Donald realized French postmodernism is pernicious nonsense.

Nonetheless, I think Michel Foucault was onto something with his constant harping on how power infiltrates language. Granted, Foucault’s obsession with power was an offshoot of his gay sadomasochism, which led to him dying of AIDS in 1984. Still, his notion that elites would naturally try to socially construct how people think in order to preserve their privileges is hardly implausible.

Yet that ought to lead to the question: Who, precisely, are “the powerful” in 2018?

We are constantly lectured about how the increasingly distant past has apparently permanently marginalized various identity groups, so they must be handed ever more power in the present. But aren’t those who are being paid to do this lecturing part of the powerful? Identity: The Demand f... Francis Fukuyama Best Price: $12.99 Buy New $13.47 (as of 11:15 EDT - Details)

Mac Donald shines her spotlight on institutional power in the universities, especially California colleges such as UCLA.

Many today might assume that inclusion is a recent development of just the past few slightly more enlightened years. Personally, though, I worked in summer jobs in 1981–82 for a black UCLA vice-chancellor. Through him I met the mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley (1973–93), who had been a UCLA student in the 1930s and was nearly elected governor of California in 1982. My boss’ office was in UCLA’s Bunche Hall, which was named after the African-American diplomat Ralph Bunche, valedictorian of his UCLA class in the 1920s, who won the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for mediating an armistice to halt the first Israeli-Arab war. Bunche Hall is not far from UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium, named after the UCLA four-sport letterman of 1939–41.

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