Diversity Is Now Our National Faith
by Steven Yates
This 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.
The 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.
The 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 admissions.
This one won’t, either. It doesn’t attempt to. The Supremes upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s preferential admissions program 5-4.
Which 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] interest."
Here 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 body."
I’ve 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."
There 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 seek attorneys.
Other 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 Union.)
President 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.
I 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?
How 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.
Thus 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.
Instructors 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."
Again, 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).
With 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?
Or 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.
These 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.
Affirmative 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 theNew 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 tuned.)
Large 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.
If 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.
It 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.
What 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.
The 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.
There 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.
The "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.
June 28, 2003