Every five years, a herd of perpetually disgruntled minority journalists gathers together to decry the lack of "diversity" in the media. This week, thousands of them will huff and puff in unison at the "UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc." convention in Washington, D.C. Both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are scheduled to give their "I Heart Diversity More Than The Other Guy" speeches at UNITY on Thursday and Friday.
The Asian-American Journalists Association will complain about the lack of Asian-American male television news anchors. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists will attack the radio industry for not hiring enough Hispanic on-air personalities. The National Association of Black Journalists will lambaste newspaper publishers for not hiring enough black editors. And the Native American Journalists Association will grumble about the Washington Redskins.
In response, journalists of non-color will engage in obligatory self-flagellation. They'll promise to put more photos of minorities on the front pages of their papers. They'll vow to add more ethnic flavor to their airwaves. They'll step up racial sensitivity training. And they'll loudly proclaim their commitment to ensuring "diversity."
The diversity they seek is, by definition, skin-deep. They call themselves "journalists of color." Not journalists of substance. Or journalists of integrity. Or journalists of independent thought. I experienced this rainbow-tinted groupthink at the UNITY conference in Seattle in 1999, where I was the lone, out-of-the-closet conservative in a room of about 150 minority journalists.
After this Seattle "debate," a few journalists sent me secret hand signals or left whispered voice mail messages letting me know that they agreed with my point of view. The rest had groaned, snickered, and rolled their eyes when I criticized ethnic identity politics and voiced my support for University of California regent Ward Connerly's ballot initiatives to eliminate government race-based affirmative action.
Hey, can't we "journalists of color" all get along? Sure. But only if you stick to the liberal orthodox line. All others must endure the "Uncle Tom" slings and "Aunt Tomasina" arrows of the politically correct thought-enforcers -- an experience that is at first intimidating, then laughable, and finally painfully tiresome.
Well, I guess I must have masochistic tendencies, because when I learned that the UNITY conference would be coming to the Beltway this year, I volunteered to bring my divisively brown-skinned self back to the gathering. I contacted UNITY program co-chair O. Ricardo Pimentel, whom I once debated on immigration issues in Tempe, Ariz., and asked if UNITY would be interested in putting me on a panel to offer my ideologically diverse views on homeland security issues. He politely passed the buck, and I never heard back from UNITY.
So, alas, I won't be joining UNITY's illusion of inclusion this year. No hard feelings. But I am hoping that some venturesome journalist will pass along my Media Diversity Test to the multicultural masses at UNITY. Test-takers get five points for every statement they mark "YES."
1. I have never voted for a Democrat in my life.
2. I think my taxes are too high.
3. I supported Bill Clinton's impeachment.
4. I voted for President Bush in 2000.
5. I am a gun owner.
6. I support school voucher programs.
7. I oppose condom distribution in public schools.
8. I oppose bilingual education.
9. I oppose gay marriage.
10. I want Social Security privatized.
11. I believe racial profiling at airports is common sense.
12. I shop at Wal-Mart.
13. I enjoy talk radio.
14. I am annoyed when news editors substitute the phrase "undocumented person" for "illegal alien."
15. I do not believe the phrase "a chink in the armor" is offensive.
16. I eat meat.
17. I believe O.J. Simpson was guilty.
18. I cheered when I learned that Saddam Hussein had been captured.
19. I cry when I hear "Proud To Be an American" by Lee Greenwood.
20. I don't believe The New York Times.
I'm sure a large number of my culturally and ideologically diverse readers would earn a perfect score, as I did. What is the average score among UNITY attendees? Take the test, my fellow journalists of "diversity," and show us your true colors.