Monday, November 06, 2006

Is "diversity" a good thing?

Everywhere you turn nowadays, we celebrate the "diversity" of America as a good thing. We look at our government, our political parties, our businesses, and many other parts of our community life and evaluate them on their "diversity" - that is, the degree to which they represent the myriad ethnic, religious, and racial groups that make up America.

I will allow that "diversity," in the sense of many different groups contributing to a unified whole, is a good thing. But I don't think that's the sense that most groups think of diversity today. If you are black, Catholic, Hispanic, Jewish, Asian, Muslim, or whatever, "diversity" seems to mean the degree to which your particular ethnic, racial, or religious group' interests are protected above those of other groups. Does your business employ the proper percentage mix of minority groups? If so, you have passed the diversity test.

America is what it is because many people of many backgrounds chose to work together to build a nation very different from what they left behind. They chose to be "Americans," rather than Muslims living in America, or Italians who opted to live somewhere other than Italy. When I was in grade school and high school, we were required to take a subject called "Civics," which taught us what it meant to be an American, how our government worked, and what our responsibilities as citizens are. This is a subject that, sadly, appears to have disappeared from our schools, because it somehow offends the sense of "diversity" that is the mantra of many groups today.

On October 30th of this year, Thomas Sowell published a very thoughtful article in The Wall Street Journal titled "Diversity's Oppressions." The key quote from his article is this: "Despite much gushing about how we should 'celebrate diversity,' America's great achievement has not been in having diversity, but in taming its dangers that have run amok in many other countries. Americans have by no means escaped diversity's oppressions and violence, but we have reined them in."

Diversity is both good and bad. To the extent that it encourages each of us to give the best of what our group has to offer for the benefit of the nation, it's good. To the extent that it divides us into groups interested only in preserving our interests and individual cultural mores, it's bad.

So consider what you mean when you "celebrate diversity." You may be working to undermine the greatest achievement of many generations of Americans - a melting pot of marvelous ingredients that have given us the most dynamic and free nation on earth.

Don't give it up.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


1 comment:

Duckbutt said...

A great post! Worth looking into your archives.