The Diversity Fetish

Mark Davis

10/12/2012 12:01:00 AM - Mark Davis

There is an uplifting American feel about a university, a workplace or a neighborhood brimming with people of different races. It is the product of a nation assembled of people from everywhere else. From many places, one people.

Other nations have diversity of a sort, but no one can go to France and become French. I cannot go to Brazil and become Brazilian. The diversity of America, an assemblage of skin colors painted with a wide swath of history from immigration to slavery, has become a uniquely beautiful concept.

Leave it to government to screw it up.

The Supreme Court’s consideration of Fisher v. Texas has opened a flood of lecturing about the moral necessity of clinging to race as a criterion for university admissions.

Decades after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prayed for a nation that judges not by pigment but by character, that dream is largely realized. In a sad irony, the greatest remaining resistance is from a chorus of those who likely consider themselves heirs to the King legacy.

From predictable soapboxes on the left, they insist that even though racism is now one of our foremost societal evils, it must still be practiced-- repackaged in the form of race preferences to favor students of color in college, and, one presumes, workers of color in every workplace.

University admissions is a particularly sensitive arena in a nation where many minority student scores lag behind white totals. Without a shred of mainstream thought to suggest there is something about students of color that automatically cripples them, we properly look at other factors-- family stability, socioeconomics, the crapshoot of which high school a student lands in.

But those factors, which can all help or hinder grade levels, can apply to white students as well. So why the continuing drumbeat to maintain race as a factor in college admissions?

There are several motivations, and all of them act to our detriment.

For many, it is a skewed sense of justice, as in the argument demanding atonement for hundreds of years of slavery. In this logic, adding points for race is a type of rough reparations system that balances past wrongs. This has always been horribly misguided. The proper successor to past injustice is current and future justice, not some endlessly swinging pendulum of grievances. Even the sincerest advocates of affirmative action seem unaware of the insult they deliver with a message that says minority kids can’t cut the mustard without ethnic favoritism.

Then there is the hijacking of the concept of equality, from the equality of opportunity that encourages and rewards positive behaviors, to a presupposed equality of result, in which attributes and gifts are subjugated to factors we are taught are irrelevant in every other way.

As a child, I was taught that race did not matter, and grew to think and live that way. As an adult, I see no end to the cries of those who desperately need it to matter, as a vehicle for their own continued significance.

Beyond showboats like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are allies who have a stake in a racially divided America, so they work hard to keep it that way, trumping up racism where it does not exist, which surely keeps it residually alive in the form of resentment from those who are fed up with that narrative.

But foremost in the preaching on behalf of race preferences is the mantra of diversity-- the notion that the Supreme Court simply must allow schools to grant or deny points based on race so that students are not sentenced to the nightmare of associating only with the like-skinned.

(Unless, of course, the environment is a historically black college, in which the racial near-unanimity is empowering and uplifting).

In Texas, where I live, it is guaranteed that if our state universities used the same criteria for all races-- and let those include grades, test scores, essays, interviews, life challenges of any sort-- the result would be student bodies featuring every race in some proportion or another.

While I cannot predict what the racial makeup of those classes would be, I proudly proclaim that I do not care. Nor should anyone. If one student body were predominantly white, another predominantly black or Hispanic or Asian or Eskimo, it would not matter one bit in an education marketplace made honest at last.

If we get to that glorious day, no one will ever look at a black face on campus and scoff that race must have been a leg up. Hispanics will have the pride of knowing they have walked through the same tunnel as students of every other race.

This, and not artificially prolonged group privileges, will foster additional racial healing.

As time passes, I am less able to assign good motives to the diversity fetish. Many of its practitioners are less interested in diversity for its own sake than in maintaining the heavy-handed government needed to enforce it.

America is a land of many races and creeds because of a compelling beacon of liberty. Liberty demands neighborhoods, schools and workplaces that reflect the racial makeup of whoever happens to be there, on whatever path they have chosen with whatever talents they bring.

Diversity that occurs naturally is a thing of beauty. But at the swordpoint of government, it becomes a cause for discord that ultimately harms us all.