Phi Beta Cons

Conceding the Culture War

Daniel Henninger is certainly right to point out how a second Clinton presidency would mean the further and deeper entrenchment of freedom-destroying political correctness, especially in  higher education (“The Clinton Default Mistake: Her Presidency Will Use the Federal Enforcement Agencies to Enforce Political Correctness,” Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2016). But if he means to imply that diversity originally meant something positive, “absorbing new immigrants, alongside blacks and women via affirmative action commitments,” he is quite mistaken and, furthermore, illustrates once again why conservatives are losing, or have lost, the culture war: that is, to believe that the original versions of various progressive agendas, such as feminism, such as diversity, were good, but descended into excesses that are bad.

These things were liars from the beginning, to paraphrase Jesus, and the fathers and mothers of it, that is, the lie. Diversity from the beginning meant group rights, enforced egalitarianism, absolute parity by group in all areas. If group equality becomes the supreme value, it necessarily tramples over individual rights, and over other values that are or should be the prime focus of the various institutions into which diversity is introduced. In academia, those values would include intellectual honesty, academic integrity, freedom of expression, and individual merit. By allowing a benign, desirable, justified dimension to these progressive agendas, conservatives concede an enormous amount of territory, and then are just left scrambling alongside to point out where the concept is going to excess.

Often, conservatives’ own premises are not clear, even to themselves. Henninger notes the unconscionable proliferation of diversity bureaucracy on campuses today, in which “university administrators know their next job depends on showing evidence of achieving diversity metrics. So they push them, relentlessly. In 20 years, diversity went from an idea to an industry.” But the industry was implicit in the idea. And, for that matter, what would have been the right stopping point for diversity, for feminism, for “social justice”?  

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The Second(-Class) Amendment

Editor’s Note: The following is the fourth in a series of articles in which Mr. Yoo and Mr. Phillips will lay out a course of constitutional restoration, pointing out areas where the Supreme Court has driven the Constitution off its rails and the ways the current Court can put it back on track. The first entry ... Read More
World

The Brexit Crisis

After what seem like years of a phony war, British and European Union negotiators finally agreed on the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU earlier this week, and Theresa May announced it in the House of Commons. The deal covers more than 500 pages of legal and bureaucratic prose, and few but the ... Read More
U.S.

Friends of Elmer

Do you know what scares an American outdoorsman more than a grizzly bear? Twitter. In the late summer and early autumn, the hunting world had its eyes on the courts: The Trump administration had issued new guidance that would permit the hunting of brown bears (popularly known as grizzly bears), including in ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Basta La Vista, Baby

Dear Reader (And especially Martha McSally’s dog), As I often note, I increasingly tend to see the political scene as a scripted reality show in which the writers don’t flesh out the dialogue so much as move characters into weird, wacky, confrontational, or embarrassing positions. It’s a lot like The ... Read More