Not Diversity, But Bigotry

No whites

It has troubled me for decades, troubles me still, and I know it troubles others. How can the double standard of  prejudice and discrimination so often embraced by various minority groups in the United States continue to be respected and tolerated? To me, this not only seems self-evidently wrong, but also inevitably destructive. You may not gain my support by cautioning me against favoring members of groups that I belong to, and yet openly discriminate against those same groups on behalf of your own.

I raised this issue back in 2011, when Christiane Amanpour, then the host of ABC’s Sunday morning public issues show, brazenly led three male-bashing female guest commentators in a discussion of how much better the world would work with more female leaders who were not addled by all that testosterone. I wrote, and none too happily,

“An all-male panel smugly talking about how “Estrogen really is a problem” and how decisions made in the throes of PMS are inherently untrustworthy would guarantee a feminist march on ABC headquarters, blogger and op-ed fury, NOW declarations of war and the rolling of network heads.When he was president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers was run out of his job by faculty and feminist fury when he suggested that it was possible that differences between the genders might be part of the explanation for the under-representation of women in the worlds of science and mathematics. Yet I just watched the host of a mainstream news program aggressively participate in a stacked and rigged discussion that began with the unchallenged presumption that men—not just Weiner, or Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or some men, or many men, but men as a monolithic, homogenous, stereotyped group—-are fatally handicapped by their hormones and brain-wiring when it comes to leadership and management.”

You know what? I don’t like groups that stereotype and discriminate against me.

But this was hardly the most egregious example, nor the most recent. Consider:

Case study #1: Pro-Gay Bigotry In D.C.

In a front page news story headlined “Catania perplexes gay D.C. Democrats,” the Washington Post discussed a supposed “dilemma” facing gay Democrats:

As [ David Catania, an openly gay D.C. City Council member]  gears up his independent run in a predominantly Democratic town, insisting on a “race of values” and not a “race of labels,” his candidacy puts gay Democrats in a tough spot: Vote for the contender who would be the city’s first openly gay mayor — and one of the first gay mayors of any major American city — or remain loyal to the party that has backed major advances in gay rights, in Washington and nationally? In the close-knit community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists immersed in local politics, the question of Catania vs. [ Democratic mayoral candidate Murial Bowser] is more than a political choice. It is a balancing act of sexual and partisan identities.

No it’s not. It’s  a test of whether one votes on the basis of merit, ability and qualifications, or on the basis of bias and bigotry. What would a heterosexual voter who refused to vote for the nominee of his or her party because that candidate was gay be? A bigot, that’s what, and gays would be the first to label him so. Yet gays can do exactly the same thing and bask in the belief that it is ethical? No. This is hypocrisy. The result of this mentality is not necessarily to encourage a “tit-for-tat” response, as in “You discriminate against me, so I’ll do the same to you,” but simply to harden barriers between groups. Treat me like this, and I won’t trust you. Why should I? I won’t respect you either. You don’t deserve to be trusted, because you are preaching equality and equity while acting at variance with those values.

Case study #2: Western Washington University’s  Shame

In a questionnaire sent to members of the campus community, Western Washington University asked, “How do we make sure that in future years ‘we are not as white as we are today?’” Wrote WWU’s president Bruce Shepard on the school’s website, “In the decades ahead, should we be as white as we are today, we will be relentlessly driven toward mediocrity; or, become a sad shadow of our current self.”

In the resolution of a case I wrote about over a year ago, a D.C. court just ruled that Gallaudet University, which in 2012 fired Angella McCaskill as its Diversity Officer after her name turned up on an anti-gay marriage petition, did not break the law and did not violate her rights. That she isn’t protected by the law is  something of a technical fluke, but ethically, I think (and am happy to say that I wrote, because I had forgotten and had to check) they were on firm ground. I wrote:

“While McCaskill has a right to her opinions, she does not have a right to serve in a position where her responsibilities appear to be contradictory to her publicly stated beliefs. This creates an appearance of a conflict of interest, and a situation that is not conducive to trust. She was the first deaf African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from Gallaudet, and has worked in various capacities there for 23 years. She should certainly not be fired for this lapse in judgment, given her connections to the institution. She should not and cannot continue as diversity chief, however.”

I would apply the same principle to the president of WWU: he needs to go. He just told the white students at his school that they are not welcome, that he wants to make sure that as few of their brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren as possible can attend the school, and there is no way, no way, he can continue to lead the institution. I don’t know what the logic is to saying that if the number of white students isn’t reduced, the school will be driven to mediocrity, but it is unequivocally racist as well as certifiably stupid. If  my son were a student there, I would pull him out, even if he had to spend the rest of a semester or more shoveling solid waste.

Seeking to have a society where every individual has an equal opportunity to succeed on his or her merits, experience, achievements and the content of his character is a critical goal. Distorting that goal by using quotas, bias, prejudice and discrimination only prolongs and complicates the challenge of achieving it for real.


Sources: Campus Reform,VolokhWashington Post

Graphic: Campus Reform



13 thoughts on “Not Diversity, But Bigotry

  1. “He just told the white students a this school that they are not welcome, that he wants to make sure that as few of their brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren as possible can’t attend the school, and there is no way, no way, he can continue to lead the institution. ”

    You mean as few CAN attend, right? Otherwise it’s backwards. Unfortunately, as you probably know, diversity is a one-way street, it’s no longer about the “melting pot” where everybody gets to join in, it’s about the mosaic, where there are colors of every piece under the sun, but every piece retains its distinct identity. Now the mosaic is starting to become the multiple chessboard, where it’s all about my group and how much of the board can my group dominate, and the black chessmen and the brown chessmen and the pink chesswomen and the lavender chessmen and the yellow chessmen are trying to run the white chessmen off the board altogether. What is more, the white chessmen must play by a distinctly different and more restrictive set of rules. Equality left the board a long time ago.

    • well, that was totally screwed up. The t wandered over from at to his, making it read a this rather than at his, and yes, dammit, the word was supposed to be can, and I fixed it. I need a vacation. Plus that questionnaire gave me a stroke.

  2. McCaskill was clearly retaliated against for her political positions. Or are you now arguing that ONLY those with “progressive” viewpoints can be diversity officers?

    • Read the original post. I don’t think diversity officers can publicly support positions that engender distrust among her student constituency, and I think that’s a no-brainer. I don’t think she could sign an anti-affirmative action petition, or proclaim her belief in Jenson’s theories, or advocate deporting illegal hispanics either. She incapacitated herself and her ability to do her job; its very similar to the Naked Teacher Principle. It’s not punishment. She was foolish.

      • Think of it this way: Barack Obama’s top aide, who has done a terrific job, tells Meet the Press that he is personally a libertarian and voted against the President twice. He’ll have to resign, and its not punishment. He can’t have the full trust of the President, even if his votes don’t effect his performance in any way.

      • But what about the distrust conservative-leaning students – or faculty/administrators – will have after such a demotion? Or is their ability to trust in the administration somehow less important than the gay community’s? In order to fully placate the gay community over same-sex marriage and other issues, religious and viewpoint discrimination has to become the policy of any major business (like Mozilla) or university (like Gallaudet). It probably will become governmental policy as well.

        A huge sign just got hung up at Gallaudet: CHRISTIANS AND CONSERVATIVES NEED NOT APPLY. How is that ethical?

        We’re not even into the hypocrisy of a university that seeks every sort of diversity except for intellectual diversity… which many people are going to pick up on.

          • I am not sure that supporting defining marriage as a “union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony”, Murphy v. Ramsey, 114 U.S. 15 at 45 (1885), did in this case.

  3. There should be no such thing as diversity officers in colleges and universities in the USA. This smacks of German universities in the 30s and 40s that barred Jewish people from attending. It also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. I remember at one of the public Universities in the Southern California that set quotas on asian students because they were scoring too high on SAT tests and other criterion for university admission. The policy was successfully reversed eventually.

    • Correct. If entry into higher education is *ideally* merit based, then establishing parameters like “diversity” as a final objective, implies then that to achieve diversity (an arbitrary and quite frankly meaningless goal) the virtue based on merit MUST suffer.

      Yes, the counter argument to this is that well, if a university can only accept 100 applicants, and out of a pool of 200 *equally merited candidates* 160 are white, 40 are black, then a scenario exists in which 100 white people can be picked, OR 80 whites and 20 blacks could be picked, OR 60 whites and 40 blacks could be picked…

      Yeah, there’s no such thing as a perfect world of perfectly equally merited candidates. If you hit a bottle neck of apparently equally merited candidates, all that is a call to do is to ratchet up the standards of admission, and put the magnifying glass to people’s “merit” to eliminate a few more candidates. If that ends up being 65 whites and 35 blacks OR 100 whites and 0 blacks OR 60 whites and 40 blacks, then so be it. The ideal of merit (which makes sense) is upheld.

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