Walter E. Williams

There are some ideas so ludicrous and mischievous that only an academic would take them seriously. One of them is diversity. Think about it. Are you for or against diversity? When's the last time you said to yourself, "I'd better have a little more diversity in my life"? What would you think if you heard a Microsoft director tell his fellow board members that the company should have more diversity and manufacture kitchenware, children's clothing and shoes? You'd probably think the director was smoking something illegal.

Our institutions of higher learning take diversity seriously and make it a multimillion-dollar operation. Juilliard School has a director of diversity and inclusion; Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a manager of diversity recruitment; Toledo University, an associate dean for diversity; the universities of Harvard, Texas A&M, California at Berkeley, Virginia and many others boast of officers, deans, vice-presidents and perhaps ministers of diversity.

George Leef, director of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh, N.C., writes about this in an article titled "Some Questions about Diversity" in the Oct. 5 issue of "Clarion Call." Mr. Leef suggests that only in academia is diversity pursued for its own sake, but there's a problem: Everyone, even if they are the same ethnicity, nationality or religion, is different. Suppose two people are from the same town in Italy. They might differ in many important respects: views on morality, religious and political beliefs, recreation preferences and other characteristics.

Mr. Leef says that some academics see diversity as a requirement for social justice -- to right historical wrongs. The problem here is that if you go back far enough, all groups have suffered some kind of historical wrong. The Irish can point to injustices at the hands of the British, Jews at the hands of Nazis, Chinese at the hands of Indonesians, and Armenians at the hands of the Turks. Of course, black Americans were enslaved, but slavery is a condition that has been with mankind throughout most of history. In fact, long before blacks were enslaved, Europeans were enslaved. The word slavery comes from Slavs, referring to the Slavic people, who were early slaves. White Americans, captured by the Barbary pirates, were enslaved at one time or another. Whites were indentured servants in colonial America. So what should the diversity managers do about these injustices?


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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