How many times a week do we hear that diversity is our strength? Right now, there is a big push for institutions of every kind to be diverse. “Diversity Officer” is a hot new career path (although it is questionable whether they actually provide a useful service).
Personally, I love being around people from many ethnic backgrounds, who come together for a common purpose. I love ethnic foods, dances, and art. I enjoy learning other languages. I believe in the value of recognizing the content of a person’s character, distinct from superficial qualities.
However, there is extremely good evidence that diversity can be a weakness, not a strength. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam “has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.”
What makes this study particularly credible is that this is NOT the conclusion that Putnam wanted to reach. In fact, he has spent several years attempting to find another explanation for his data. He could not.
Does this study mean that the racists are right? Does this mean that we need segregation? No, it does not, and here is why.
In the middle of the 20th century, there were towns that had ethnic strife between, for example, Irish and Italian citizens. Today, these ethnicities are blended into our great melting pot. There have been many other examples of various ethnicities “melting” throughout our history. In the past, there was a great pressure on immigrant minorities to integrate with mainstream culture. They may have retained some ethnic foods and cultural customs. However, they have adopted a mainstream American identity and values. That is what has worked.
In contrast, one can look around the world, both now and through history, and find many instances of discrete ethnic groups that have come together in the same location, with disastrous results.
With respect to ethnic diversity, there are two common-sense keys to a congenial society: First, it’s better not to have too much diversity in society. A little is good, too much is not. When there are large populations of unintegrated minorities, as we have now, and this is increasing, this is not a good situation. And it’s good to pay attention to feedback if a particular ethnicity is not integrating well (e.g. causing disproportionate terrorism and/or crime).
Interestingly, a large segment of Americans intuitively understand this. In a recent survey, 54% of likely voters said they want significantly less immigration than we have now, and 51% of Hispanic likely voters thought that too little was being done to enforce immigration laws. They might be concerned with job competition; these types of concerns tend to be exacerbated when there is excessive immigration.
Second, it is good to have a strong mainstream culture that the minorities are expected to fit in with.
In contrast, today, members of our mainstream culture are told to “check their privilege” and go to the back of the bus. This is the opposite of what’s useful for integrating diverse ethnic groups into a cohesive, whole society.
It is not useful to hate people for being different. However, it is also not useful to assume that large numbers of people from all different backgrounds will enjoy living alongside one another. We are dealing with humans here, not theoretical constructs. Consider the ethics of forcing people to accept massive and ever-increasing diversity when they never signed up for it.
The Value in Diversity
Leftists are sure to point out that there is research showing that diverse groups are better at problem-solving than more homogenous groups. (This is specifically in the context of people getting together to solve a problem, rather than neighbors living in a neighborhood, while the research cited above is in the context of diverse ethnicities of people living in a community.)
However, this begs the question: Why, then, do leftists create so many groups that shut out non-leftists, especially in academia?
Diversity of skin color and gender isn’t real diversity if everyone has a leftist viewpoint. For problem-solving, skin color is only superficial, it’s how we think that determines what we bring to the table for solving the problem. When it comes to political ideology, academia is one of the least diverse places, especially for subjects in which politics are relevant.
Feel free to ask your local “Diversity Is Our Strength” SJW the following questions:
- How many conservatives are there amongst the Black Studies department faculty at this university? Oh, really? None? If diversity is so important, why are they not making an effort to have diversity of viewpoint?
- What about the Women’s Studies department faculty?
- And the Political Science department faculty?
- How about English Literature faculty?
Then there’s the question of just how far to the right of center conservative professors are. If a department has some far leftists, wouldn’t they want some equally far on the right, to balance things out?
In reality, when an environment is strongly tilted to the left, some people may think they are conservative when objectively they are only moderate. They just feel conservative in relation to the great numbers of radical leftists in their midst. If leftists really want diversity, then for sure they’ll want some strong, outspoken conservatives in their groups, not just a couple of timid moderates.
In addition, “Diversity Management” means acceptance and respect of different viewpoints. So it isn’t enough just to have different viewpoint present. They all are supposed to be accepted, according to the ideas about diversity that leftists themselves come up with.
It could lead to an interesting conversation. Perhaps leftists would like to apply their stated principles in their own domains before lecturing others about diversity.