Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

That Word Does Not Mean What You Think it Means


With all due apologies to the Princess Bride, public acquiescence in the radicalization of the academy depends a great deal on words losing their common meaning. I’m reminded of this yet again by the Virginia Tech “diversity” requirements being followed so ably by FIRE, NAS, the Pope Center, and others.  

To the general public (and even to state legislators), words like “social justice” or “diversity” often have quite benign, even good, meanings. Social justice is nothing more than the quest for a better world. Diversity is the celebration of differences. I can vividly remember witnesses testifying during the Pennsylvania Academic Freedom Hearings that multiple public university departments had dedicated themselves to “social justice.” To those of us who follow these things closely, this was smoking-gun evidence of explicit ideological bias embedded within the very mission statements of academic departments. But to the legislators, it meant very little. After all, who’s against social justice?

Our challenge is to teach the public the new definitions of these terms. We need them to understand that a “diverse” community in collegespeak is a community where people of all different colors and sexual practices think exactly the same. “Social justice” requires the radical redistribution of wealth in a manner that has led to economic collapse in every country where it has been attempted. “Racists” are often those who believe that people of all ethnic backgrounds should have an equal chance to succeed, and “patriots” are little more than gap-toothed, sheet-wearing rednecks.

If Virginia Tech truly does impose its “diversity” requirement on faculty, the university should prepare for federal litigation. At the same time, however, the conservative community should prepare to educate the public that “diversity” does not mean what they think it means.


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