Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Diversity Shibboleth

It seems that you can't cross the street these days without hearing about diversity. This phenomenon is particularly acute on college campuses, where it seems as if everyone is constantly worrying about diversity, studying diversity, celebrating diversity, and promoting diversity.

This is being taken more and more ridiculous extremes. For example, one commentator noted the "diversity" of the victims in the Virginia Tech shooting.

What's going on here?

First, what is diversity? The dictionary essentially defines it as "being different".

This leaves much to be desired. Different how? There is a theoretically infinite number of variables concerning people that can be measured. There's everything from arm length to IQ to favorite movie.

However, the proponents of "diversity" aren't equally concerned with every possible variable. In practice, diversity seems to mainly concern three variables: race, "sexual orientation", and gender, in descending order of importance.

For simplicity, consider race.

The advocates of diversity assert that more diversity is better, at least given where we are now. This means that they see some racial distributions as better than others.

We can consider distributions which are the same except for one person. Preferring one distribution to another comes down to preferring one person over another based on race.

Think about that.

If, all else being equal, you preferred sitting next to a white person rather than a black person in class, you would be accused of racial prejudice. But the attitude is the same if the races are reversed. Thus preferring one racial distribution to another is racial prejudice, so advocating racial diversity is racial prejudice.

This doesn't mean that advocates of diversity are "racists", at least not in the usual sense. But it does mean that advocating "diversity" is the opposite of advocating a color-blind society.

All else being equal, whether a society is diverse or not makes no difference. Diversity isn't bad, it's just no better than non-diversity.

Just as a person of one race is no better or worse than another, one racial distribution is no better or worse than another.

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