The Corner

The “Diversity” Juggernaut

Chatting with a friend this morning (I mean, e-chatting), we both expressed dawning wonder at the sheer scale of the “diversity” phenomenon.  The whole thing is utterly out of control, and far, far detached from reality, most especially in Academe.

Item:  The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in mid-October that Washington State University now has a Chief Diversity Officer with a full-time staff of fifty-five and a three million dollar annual budget.  The Victorian British could likely have run India with less administrative resources than that.

Item:  U. Mich. president Coleman’s astounding comment on the Nov. 7 victory of the anti-affirmative-action proposal.  Sample: 

I believe there are serious questions as to whether this initiative is lawful, particularly as it pertains to higher education. I have asked our attorneys for their full and undivided support in defending diversity at the University of Michigan. I will immediately begin exploring legal action concerning this initiative. But we will not limit our drive for diversity to the courts, because our conviction extends well beyond the legal landscape.  It is a cause that will take our full focus and energy as an institution, and I am ready to begin that work right now. We will find ways to overcome the handcuffs that Proposal 2 attempts to place on our reach for greater diversity.  As Susan B. Anthony said in her crusade for equal rights, ‘Failure is impossible.’

[My italics.]  Look at the mindset there.  “Diversity” is not merely a matter of interest to the administrator of a major university, it is her main cause, the very reason for the university’s existence.  Without “diversity,” the University of Michigan would be a fraud, a fake, a hollow shell.  This appears to be the actual belief of the actual university president.

I have been struggling to come up with a historical parallel for this phenomenon, but cannot.  Here is a free and open society whose intellectual elites (or at any rate, those who administer intellectual-elite institutions like U. Mich.) are in the grip of a bogus ideology founded on nothing but sentimentality and the desire to assert one’s own moral superiority, and that is contradicted by everything we actually know about human nature.  How on earth did this happen?  Where is it headed?

For much, much more on the “diversity” juggernaut–on its fundamentally totalitarian nature, its socially destructive effects, and its utter lack of intellectual content–see Peter Wood’s excellent book on the subject, which began life as an NRO essay, and which I reviewed for The New Criterion here