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Jewish World Review Jan. 28, 2002 / 15 Shevat, 5762

John Leo

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Consumer Reports

'Diversity' proponents should learn what the word means


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- A NEW poll says that professors at Ivy League universities are 19 times more likely to be Democrats than Republicans (57 percent Dems, 3 percent GOP). Eighty percent said they voted for Gore, while 9 percent said they voted for Bush. And only 6 percent described themselves as conservative or somewhat conservative, compared to 64 percent who said they were liberal or somewhat liberal.

Critics have a lot of room to attack the poll. It was quite a small survey (151 professors) done by a Republican pollster, Frank Luntz, for a strongly conservative sponsor, David Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture. Someone should hire a mainstream, non-partisan pollster to do a large and detailed survey. When that happens, I suspect the results will be roughly similar to the Luntz effort. The academy is lopsidedly leftist and getting more so. Political orthodoxy is important on campus.

There's another factor, too. When leftists take over a department, they almost always hire their own, so except in some technical fields, non-leftists tend to disappear.

Though Frank Luntz's survey may not prove anything, his comment on the poll seems fitting: "I think universities should insist on the same diversity in their faculty that they look for in their students. I have a problem when these faculties have no Republican or conservative representation at all."

Good point. A couple of years ago, Harvard law professor Charles Fried criticized the Association of American Law Schools for avoiding diversity of ideas at its annual meetings. It really had a shoddy record for diversity in its panels and seminars, he wrote, "unless your idea of diversity is the full gamut of opinions from left to far left."

Like elite colleges, law schools seem to hire mostly from the left. James Lindgren, a pro-choice law professor at Northwestern University, analyzed law school hiring in terms of who is pro-life and who is pro-choice. He noted that the groups most likely to oppose abortion -- Republicans, Hispanics and Catholics -- are among the most underrepresented on law faculties. Since the law schools are the basic training grounds for activist litigation on the abortion issue, this amounts to a huge advantage granted by the schools to the pro-choice side.

The diversity movement accepts no excuses when schools say they can't seem to find qualified blacks. (In fact the term "academic racism" has been tossed around in reference to law schools with less than the correct proportion of blacks.) But it has no comment when the same schools can't find conservative Protestants or white-ethnic Catholics.

In diversity-speak, "representation" (quotas based on a group's percentage of the general population) is regarded as essential. "Underrepresentation" is virtual proof of bias. By this standard, law schools are horrendously biased against Catholics (53 percent of the expected number of slots on law faculties), Hispanics (31 percent) and Republicans (32 percent). If underrepresentation equals bias, as the left now argues, then the most serious bias is aimed at Republican women (one-half of 1 percent of all law teachers, or 6 percent of their expected "representation" on law faculties).

Group "representation" (the normal English word for this is quotas) is a terrible idea. But people who believe in it ought to apply their principle to all groups, not just the selected ones they happen to be sponsoring. For instance, almost none of the quota people seem alarmed that men are now "underrepresented" on campuses, since women now account for 56 percent to 60 percent of all college students.

The sad truth is that the diversity industry is narrowly focused and perfectly happy to use double standards to get what it wants. On a panel at a newspaper convention some years ago, I said that getting more blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and women into the newsroom was a great step forward, but where are the Russian Jewish immigrants, the fundamentalist Christians, the Muslims, the black conservatives and so forth? This was a major gaffe. I had mistakenly used the word "diverse" in its old English language sense, instead of its modern sense of group rights for narrowly selected race-and-gender constituencies.

The diversity movement seems to pump into the newsroom and the professions people of different races and genders who have mostly been to the same schools, and mostly have the same attitudes, voting patterns and class prejudices. Someday we will have to get the diversity people interested in diversity.

JWR contributor John Leo's latest book is Incorrect Thoughts: Notes on Our Wayward Culture. Send your comments by clicking here.

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