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Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2001 / 3 Shevat, 5762

Walter Williams

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Consumer Reports

Diversity -- DIVERSITY is simultaneously an important and contemptible term in today's climate of political correctness. According to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, diversity means: diverseness, multeity, multifariousness, multiformity, multiplicity, variousness. Its related words are: difference, dissimilarity, distinction, divergence, divergency, unlikeness. Diversity's antonyms are: uniformity and identity.

Diversity implies toleration of differences among people no matter what that difference might be, including those differences that are racial, sexual, ideological or political. Diversity also implies a willingness to permit others who disagree with you to go their separate ways, and form institutions and groups among like-minded friends and associates. In the political arena, diversity implies decentralized decision-making power that in turn requires limited government.

What's called for and practiced by college administrators, courts and administrative agencies is anything but a defense of individual rights, freedom from conformity and a doctrine of live-and-let-live. Instead, diversity is an increasingly popular catchword for all kinds of conformity -- conformity in ideas, actions and speech. It calls for re-education programs where diversity managers indoctrinate students, faculty members, employees, managers and executives on what's politically correct thinking.

Part of that lesson is non-judgmentalism, where one is taught that one lifestyle is just as worthy as another, or all cultures and their values are morally equivalent. I'm waiting for one of those multicultural/diversity idiots to tell us about the moral equivalency between Western and Taliban treatment of women.

Universities, corporations and government offices that do not hire, promote or admit the right number of minorities, women, disabled or other "protected" classes of Americans are seen as politically incorrect. As such, they risk exposure to heavy-handed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforcement actions, government and private lawsuits, loss of government grants and contracts, or loss of university accreditation.

Diversity is simply the old racism in a new guise, spiced up with a touch of sexism. Diversity is a call for race-conscious decisions in hiring, promotion and college admittance policy. Diversity management success is measured by the numbers: How many minorities or women are employed, promoted or enrolled? Wrong numbers invite the wrath of the state.

At colleges, diversity doesn't mean political diversity. It is by no means unusual to find colleges where the bulk of the faculty -- sometimes 80 percent or 90 percent -- is registered Democrat. In some academic departments, such as philosophy, history and political science, it is by no means rare to find 100 percent of the faculty is registered Democrat.

Equal treatment, academic standards and meritocracy are the major casualties of the quest for diversity. In fact, equal treatment, academic standards and meritocracy can lead to charges of racism by the diversity elite. Being a 65-year-old, I can remember when blacks demanded that questions about race be removed from job or credit application forms. We said race was irrelevant and demanded color-blindness. In today's racial spoils system, racial designations are required.

What might true diversity look like on college campuses? Different colleges might pursue different policies with regard to race and sex. Some might have color- and sex-blind admittance and hiring policies, while others, at least at private colleges, might be race- and sex-conscious. Some colleges would have faculty members who are mostly liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans, as opposed to the current domination by liberal Democrats. There'd be free speech rather than speech codes.

Official racism, in the forms of quotas and preferences, has fallen out of public and political favor, and so has some of its agenda's coded words. Large corporations used to have their "urban affairs" office in charge of racial numbers. Later on, it was the corporate or university "affirmative action" office. Now it's the "equity" office, soon maybe to become the office for "diversity management." But racism is racism with or without a smiley face.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate