Diversity: “The conversions were forced conversions.”

Diversity is a full-fledged social dogma these days: we’re all better off individually and collectively by being around an ethnically diverse and values-diverse group than we are if we limit ourselves to hanging out with our own kind. One of the great ironies of higher education is that it is supposed to be a place of free inquiry, where ideas stand or fall on their own merits; yet diversity is set up as the source of this freedom of inquiry, as its guarantor; diversity is therefore sacrosanct, shielded from all criticism, indeed, in some cases a shibboleth to academic advancement, and those who question it find themselves under a very real but unscientifically-justifiable social stigma.

Instead of setting up diversity as the source of free inquiry, why not set up Truth instead? Oneness, unity . . . instead of plurality and fragmentation?

While I’m not an enemy of any particular ethnic group, I’m certainly against many values that are not my own. Any benefit I get from being around people holding those values amounts to the extent to which they can help me understand and strengthen my own viewpoint. Diversity says it’s better if others don’t think like I do. I don’t see how this principle of institutionalized fragmentation can bode well for societies.

Robert Putnam, a Harvard professor, has done a huge study of diversity and found it doesn’t deliver on the grandiose promises that “diversity officers” across the nation (and world) have been making for it. Read this WSJ editorial discussing it. Here are a couple of highlights.

“Diverse communites may be yeasty and even creative . . .” (YEASTY. Nice.)

A quotation from the original study:

Inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.

The editorial concludes that immigration is “inexorable” but that assimilation into the middle class is the best hope for fighting against the detrimental effects of “diverse” communities. The study suggests a model for assimilation:

Here, too, Robert Putnam has a possible assimilation model. Hold onto your hat. It’s Christian evangelical megachurches. “In many large evangelical congregations,” he writes, “the participants constituted the largest thoroughly integrated gatherings we have ever witnessed.” This, too, is an inconvenient truth. They do it with low entry barriers to the church and by offering lots of little groups to join inside the larger “shared identity” of the church. A Harvard prof finds good in evangelical megachurches. Send this man a suit of body armor!

I would guess that the more doctrinally squishy of the megachurches would end up having less solid integration than the more doctrinally sound ones. But this sounds like a much-needed study to put this completely oversold and overblown concept of “diversity” into perspective. Now it’s time for universities to fire their Diversity VPs, dismantle their offices, and spend those millions of dollars on things that actually help students. Like hiring more real professors instead of armies of adjuncts.

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5 Responses to “Diversity: “The conversions were forced conversions.””

  1. Mark Says:

    I think you make a good point here, Curly. “Diversity” is a buzzword. For example, a “diverse” place could more accurately be described as “non-WASPy”.

    Because what we might think of as diverse communities, such as oh, let’s say West Hollywood, are actually increasingly non-diverse. People tend to like to live near and interact with people who are similar to themselves. It is just the nature of people. It makes West Hollywood a cool place to live for West Hollywood types, and there are some good restaurants for the rest of us.

    It depends on the type of “diversity” you are considering, I think. But the buzzword “Diversity” is pretty meaningless and falls apart under scrutiny.

  2. Curly Says:

    It’s a buzzword with an industry and a political machine built up around it.

    The other great irony, which is so huge I didn’t remember it when I posted this originally, is that the people who scream the loudest about diversity are the ones the least interested in what other people think. For them, diversity means: more unassimilated immigrants, fewer Christians, and more boys holding hands in public.

  3. Tim Says:

    Wait, so this is about “The Gays”? Somehow I’m not surprised. I’m not sure in what world you and those who might share you opinion live, but for those of us who venture outside our front doors, or choose to live in a world where dogma and published studies take a back seat to real life, the word “diversity” tends to have a positive connotation. It’s what allows us to open our minds to all kinds of really cool things.

    For example, it allows us to embrace concepts like tolerance and thought. Tolerance is pretty awesome, actually. Imagine walking in West Hollywood and not fearing to see “boys holding hands in public.” A difficult notion, I know. But that’s how powerful tolerance can be. And when I say “thought,” I don’t mean the kind of thought that comes from reading and quoting other people’s thoughts. I’m talking about a thought that you can truly call your own. Now, bear in mind that both of these concepts — tolerance and thought — are widely known to be greatly enhanced by what’s referred to as “real-life experience.” I would recommend that highly.

    Yes, indeed, tolerance and thought are your friends. Call them buzzwords if you’d like, but also look them up in the dictionary and let that sink in for awhile.

  4. Mark Says:

    I continue to find myself in the awkward position of agreeing with Curly. I think he was not so much going after “The Gays” as he was questioning the “oversold and overblown concept of ‘diversity.'” And I still think he has a good point. In a way your response, Tim, is supporting his argument. You seem annoyed that he is not falling in line with your line of thinking. The preachers of “Diversity” can be a bit too dogmatic, I think. That is the “great irony.”

    But since we are on the gay subject, I’ll add my thoughts to that too. Being truly tolerant means you can try to understand and accept that other people may find certain lifestyles unacceptable. Personally, I don’t have a problem with gays, but I also accept that other people do have a problem, and I don’t think any less of them for their beliefs. I don’t even think that they are necessarily “missing the boat” or are somehow “less sophisticated” than I am. Maybe I’ve got it wrong and I’m the one missing the boat. Who knows?

    All I was saying was that West Hollywood is not all that diverse, in an objective sense. It is a community, and as a community it tends to attract those of a like mind. Of course, my PoMo mind conditioning made it almost impossible to type the word “objectife” – see I could only do it that one time…

  5. Curly Says:

    Tim, I replied to your comment shortly after you posted it, but apparently mine never appeared on the site. Grrr. So here is a new version.

    To say that it’s “about The Gays” is to reduce the issue to an accident (in the Aristotelian sense) rather than to declare its essence. The diversity crowd is interested in diversity on a superficial level. They celebrate people who look, cook, sound, smell, and have sex differently than they do, but they are intolerant of different ideas. And they cannot endure the thought of allowing the radical ideas of Christianity any space in the public square.

    So the diversity crowd is very frequently anti-Christian, and specifically anti-Catholic (since more and more of the doctrinally squishy Protestant denominations are adopting relativistic attitudes congenial to the diversity czars). Anti-Catholicism is the only acceptable prejudice left among this crowd. You can prove your “tolerance” credentials by attacking Catholic morality and dogma. As a Catholic, I experience the effects of this prejudice in my day to day affairs (being at a university, where “freedom of inquiry” is another buzzword).

    Mark has made some good points. I’d like to add that your division between “dogma and published studies” and “real life” is bogus. There is no such division. Dogma and published studies are every bit a part of so-called real life. Real people hold real dogmas and publish real studies that have real consequences in the real world. And I would bet, as Mark has suggested, that your world—diverse as it is—is probably as rigidly governed by dogma as any. (I’m speaking of the world you move in, your industry . . . not you yourself.)

    I thought it was very funny that as an antidote to the ivory tower that I supposedly live in, you send me to “the dictionary.” Nothing like a lexicon to ground one in “real life experience”!

    I said in my earlier, vanished comment that I say all these things with due respect. You are a dear friend of a dear friend, and I thank you for your comment.

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