Kathleen Parker

WASHINGTON -- Racial and ethnic diversity is the key to happiness, success in the global marketplace and, not least, an interesting life.

So we are told in a batch of new "fair housing" radio ads that are the sort of treacly propaganda that cause sober drivers to run off the road.

Presented as a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, the ads were produced by the National Fair Housing Alliance, a private, nonprofit group whose stated purpose is to make sure the act is properly implemented. The act bans housing discrimination and imposes stiff penalties for those who get caught.

Lately, the fine intent of eliminating discrimination seems to have morphed into diversity advocacy.

Before I proceed, let me say that I prefer a world in which not everyone is the same. I like that my neighbors include a gay couple, a single mother, and that several languages are spoken on my street.

But happy diversity is an organic process that results when like-minded citizens congregate around shared values and interests. Often those interests and values have evolved from racial and ethnic identities, but not necessarily. Sometimes neighbors of diverse backgrounds share affection for old houses, or window boxes, or pet-friendliness.

That not all people have access to all the same housing opportunities is called life in a free-market society. But the fair housing folks want life to be more fair and the ads are warming us up for some really fun social engineering.

The wormiest of three ads posted online features a mother and daughter just home from visiting mom's workplace. Daughter is breathless with wonder at how diverse Mom's workplace is, but wants to know why everyone in their neighborhood "looks just like us?" Dum-de-dum-dum.

A cheerful, third-party voice explains that "diversity shouldn't be left behind at work each day. In our neighborhoods, we can create a greater appreciation and respect for cultural differences. And prepare our children for the global life that lies ahead. After all, your family doesn't live in a 9-to-5 world. Why should diversity?"

Another ad called "Parallel Lives" features a boring white guy and an exciting Latino. White Guy is dull because "my neighborhood always stayed the same." Latino is vivacious and engaging because his diverse neighborhood "always got more interesting!"

In a flourish of diversity solidarity, dull White Guy and fascinating Latino say in unison: "I want my kids to live a richer life."


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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