Dreary Diversiphiles’ Utopian Dreams

By | 2018-12-03T22:22:04+00:00 December 3rd, 2018|
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When liberals talk about diversity and surround it with a glow of rightness and boldness, it almost makes you nostalgic for the old Marxists and their faith in History with a capital H. At least the Marxists had a specific idea of what would happen once History performed its social magic: no private property; people working for themselves, not for someone who “buys” their toil; men and women writing poetry and playing music and forming clubs in their ample leisure time.

The apostles of diversity don’t envision anything like that. Diversity is for the sake of . . . diversity.

Two months ago at the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in New York City, when the host asked guest Hillary Clinton what to do about “this problem for women, black, and Latinx people in technology,” Clinton said nothing about the nature of the problem. She didn’t have to. Silicon Valley has too many white and Asian men, and we solve it by getting more women and persons of color in place—that’s all.

What happens after that proper balance is achieved we don’t even have to discuss. We’ve reached diversity—mission accomplished!

And there’s no stopping it, so we’re told. The Pew Research Center just issued another report on the rising generation of Americans that bore a familiar headline. “Early Benchmarks Show ‘Post-Millennials’ on Track to Be the Most Diverse, Best-Educated Generation Yet,” it read, sounding like a breathless teenager. A bar-chart shows the leap of nonwhite 6-21-year-olds in the United States from 18 percent in 1968 to 48 percent in 2018. As a liberal organization, Pew finds nothing to worry about in this extraordinary demographic shift, which, an objective observer would naturally assume, threatens cultural and social disruptions in America. No, greater diversity means a better society, period.

That is why college campuses are such model spaces of multiracial and multicultural calm and freedom, where groups mix and mingle smoothly and joyfully. As Pew notes, the college-age population has never been more diverse, and more of them head to college every year. The wondrous accomplishments of inclusion of higher education, where people of every color, sex and sexual identity, gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity, able-ness, and weight and size thrive, persuasively demonstrate how diversity yields mutual trust, empathy, and gratitude.

I’m kidding, of course. Even the diversity-smitten New York Times admits that more diversity among students has increased rancor and resentment.

In February 2014, before the Black Lives Matter protests really got going, the Times ran a story headlined “Colorblind Nation Aside, Colleges Grapple with Racial Tension.” The piece drew a sharp contrast between photos in college marketing materials that feature “a vision of multicultural harmony, with a group of students from different racial backgrounds sitting on a verdant lawn, smiling and conversing,” and the reality on the campus grounds, “where racial tensions are playing out in new ways among adults.”

Diversiphiles attribute those problems to young and working-class whites, especially males, who see their dominance slipping. (See, for instance, here and here and here ). Columnist Charles Blow likes to call it “white extinction anxiety.” When liberal social scientist Robert Putnam (author of Bowling Alone) famously found in a large population survey that greater diversity in communities breeds greater social distrust and isolation among everyone, liberal researchers were eager to point out that the distrust falls mainly on the white side.

No one who spends much time there thinks that the social atmosphere in our colleges and universities is healthy and honest. We are still waiting for the little utopias that liberals assume will materialize once we get a proportionate demographic balance here and there and everywhere.

When diversiphiles assert casually the unquestioned good of diversity, when they ignore copious evidence that diversity-talk and diversity-tactics have incited situations in which, to use Putnam’s terms, “Trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer,” they sound a bit like American Marxists in the 1950s who believed after 20 years of Stalinism that the workers paradise would eventually arrive.

Next time you hear someone recite the word diversity in a paean to our rainbow future, ask him, “Where’s the omelette?”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

About the Author:

Mark Bauerlein
Mark Bauerlein is a senior editor at First Things and professor of English at Emory University, where he has taught since earning his Ph.D. in English at UCLA in 1989. For two years (2003-2005) he served as director of the Office of Research and Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts. His books include Literary Criticism: An Autopsy, The Pragmatic Mind: Explorations in the Psychology of Belief, and The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future. His essays have appeared in PMLA, Partisan Review, Wilson Quarterly, Commentary, and New Criterion, and his commentaries and reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, The Guardian, Chronicle of Higher Education, and other national periodicals.