The academy was once known for its manifold benefits to America. Great scientific and medical discoveries, sustained theories of economics and management, social psychological insights and a deeper understanding of classical texts are but a few. Its new perpetual genuflection to diversity, equity and inclusion and propagation of neo-Marxism across academic areas aren’t among them. As Heather Mac Donald has argued, the academy now advocates and produces stifling intellectual conformity, becoming the ideological seedbed for our summer violence and elite justifications
Dinesh D'Souza says that thanks to the academy, “Socialism in America today has turned black against white, female against male, homosexual and transsexual against heterosexual, and illegals against legal immigrants and American citizens.”
My university recently sent a proclamation to employees expressing solidarity for the rioting that has taken place across America, lionizing the “peaceful” protests. Jeremy Carl argues “The damage such neo-Marxist programs are doing to our nation’s social fabric is beyond academic comprehension or interest.” Empirical research by Paul Cassell strongly suggests that “a ‘Minneapolis Effect’ has struck—i.e., in the wake of anti-police protests following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, police officers are being re-deployed from anti-gun efforts and are retreating from proactive law enforcement tactics. This reduction in law enforcement efforts targeted at firearms crimes has led to, perhaps predictably, an increase in firearms crimes.”
Robert Maranto critiques the academy’s blind eye/tone-deafness to non-politicized human /problems concluding, “this misallocation of research puts political activism over empirical problem-solving. Activist academics signal that they care about the disadvantaged, but often the real goal is appealing to peers and funders…who dominate academic research.”
The recent rioting springing from police shootings of criminals of color impelled the academy to double down on diversity, equity and inclusion—the academic trifecta. My state university is a worthy illustration where both faculty and administration advocate for subordinating course instruction, content and theory to focus on diversity, racial equity and inclusion.
Academics have shilled postmodernism to students, progressive politicians and the administrative state. Its la gran mentira is that racism, sexism, economic inequality, unequal outcomes, etc. must be ameliorated through institutional guilt and being woke. US News & World Report even has a “Campus Diversity Index” weighing the racial and ethnic diversity of college campuses for all to see. The answer is always more diversity.
Health and Human Services author Rachel S. Franklin argues, however, “the conceptualization and measurement of ethnic and racial diversity in higher education appears to be often based on normative values rather than solid benchmarks.” These data suggest diversity membership can be demonstrated simply by having a favored last name.
For example, people with Hispanic last names are given preference in the academy, mainstream media and “woke” society. As classics professor Bruce Thornton points out in Searching for Joaquin: Myth, Murieta and History in California, having a Spanish name like Cruz or Rubio, gives one elite standing in America over names like Graham or Smith, despite their “whiteness” being indistinguishable. Victor Davis Hanson concludes in Mexifornia, “part of the genius of the postmodern term ‘Hispanic’ is that it gives quite a lot of cover for well-heeled Europeans and South Americans to receive preferences over native-born Americans.” Apart from breeding new academic departments, journals and research grants, the “la raza” foil has failed miserably to ease high Hispanic drop-out rates from high school, incarceration rates and unwed motherhood.
Who could blame African Americans for reaping the same benefits? Barack Obama, the offspring of a black father and white mother (the U.S. Census Bureau’s categorization is mixed race) is labeled “America’s first black president.” African names given or adopted now promise racial diversity-- Ta-Nehisi Coates, Keyshawn Johnson, LeBron James, Tanisha Coetzee, Ludacris, Shaquille O’Neal, etc.
The academy’s equity and diversity obsession has made it significantly less diverse intellectually. An Inside Higher Ed article about ensuring equity defined it euphemistically as “promoting race, gender, social class and sexual orientation.” The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) considers one of its most important missions to be “the understanding of diversity and equity as fundamental goals of higher education.” Only a few private universities ignore equity and diversity goals in their missions. Overpaid equity & diversity administrators with substantial influence regulate.
Equity became equal outcomes not equal opportunity. In Discrimination and Disparities, Thomas Sowell argues that unequal distributions of income, employment and other social outcomes prove neither discrimination nor genetic deficiencies, but frequently involve luck. Two important questions are ignored when pushing this mindless progressive trifecta: 1) What can be done about inequality and at what cost? 2) What should we do collectively about the group and what should we leave up to individuals themselves?
Columbia University’s “Guide for Inclusive Teaching” states that “Excellence in teaching and learning necessitates the inclusion of every student’s unique identities, experiences, and talents.” While wonderfully accommodating, it is ideological scree. It would take professors two weeks of student surveying to just catalog each student’s unique identity, experience and talents, and another month to meld this mélange into class content, if it were even possible.
The question of how much diversity and inclusion is enough is neglected. Illustrating this point, I offer a thought experiment about a typical department in a public university. This department has four scholars of color (including three women and a black man), five white women, an openly gay man, and nine straight white men. Such a department ticks all the inclusion and diversity boxes. Yet many good students rail against being guilt-tripped for their whiteness/maleness. Suppose further that when one of the white males (a token Capitalist) retires, his replacement is a neo-Marxist white female. Could it be that there is simply never enough diversity or inclusion in this department or university--an endless solution in search of a real problem?
The Missing Element
This hypothetical department’s deal with the trifecta devil seems to have robbed them, the university and students of what may be their greatest need: true intellectual diversity.
For this very reason, Jonathan Haidt and scholars of different political persuasions organized the Heterodox Academy with over 4000 members, including me. Its goal is to establish in the academy true intellectual and viewpoint diversity through vigorous argumentation because of huge, unmet demand. Heterodox asserts that “in many fields, scholars’ backgrounds and commitments are insufficiently diverse. As a result, important questions and ideas may go unexplored, key assumptions unchallenged, and the natural human tendencies towards motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, and tribalism can go unchecked. This undermines research quality and the impartiality of peer review; it can also corrupt committee decisions about admissions, hiring, promotion, and curriculum design…” resulting from the academic trifecta.
As Heather Mac Donald has said, “Every university twists itself into knots to admit, hire, and promote as many black students and faculty as it possibly can, in light of the fierce bidding war among colleges for underrepresented minorities. To declare from the highest reaches of the academy that racism is the defining and all-explaining feature of American society is to adopt a political position, not to state a scientific truth.”
With the academy and wokedom’s unquestioned acceptance of the “racism” explanation for all self-defeating choices, there is little chance of addressing the underlying behaviors that lie behind much racial disparity.