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Diversity: the world's new buzzword

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | 2:21 p.m. CDT; updated 6:45 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008
John Merrill

Diversity is a code word for social excellence and progress these days. The aim of the U.S.: Have as diverse a population as possible. The aim of the professions: Get great diversity. And of television programming: Diversify. And of race relations: Get diversity. And religion: Diversity is better. Of schools: We need more diversity. On and on we could go with this objective of diversity.

And so we diversify. Mizzou today reminds one of Hong Kong where nationalities and races mill around together. Look at the athletic team players: the bastion of diversity. Look at the male-female representatives on the school and college faculties. About even, with women probably dominating. Not so much gender diversity in the administration, but it is improving.

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Look at the restaurants in Columbia. Quite a diverse choice: Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek, Spanish, Mexican, Mongolian — on and on. Plenty of diversity? What about Tibetan, Malawian, Chadian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Bangladeshi, Russian, Malaysian, Turkish, et al. Then, within each of the countries, there are regional and local delicacies that could be represented. Diversity is an open-ended concept.

Something is a little shady about a club, for example, open only to a certain class, or race, or gender. Girls should be allowed in the Boy Scouts. Women must be permitted membership in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. But wait. Is this enough diversity? What about “proper” representation of gays, cripples, geniuses, morons, the left-handed, the paranoid, the introverts?

Birds of a feather may flock together. But, as for humans, they should unflock, they must mix, they must integrate, they must always aim at diversity. In reality, outside the authoritarianism of the state or social arbiter groups, humans do in fact flock together. Women have their clubs, as do men. Religious groups establish ever more narrow and esoteric memberships. On fully-integrated campuses, blacks and whites gather in their discrete groups. As do Orientals and Latin Americans. Political correctness has gone very far, but it has not undone the naturalistic urges of kindred groupism.

As diversified as university faculties are in gender and race, I have noticed one area where there seems no desire to diversify. That is the political orientation. Ideological diversification does not seem important. And for the sake of the students, this is where the most important diversity should be. Faculties are predominantly liberal and the few conservatives that are found there are ridiculed, despised or ignored. They are not taken seriously, by and large, and have little or no voice in the hiring of new faculty — almost all of whom are liberal.

Conservatives in the university know what it feels like to be in a minority. Say little or nothing, for it will do little good to say anything. It’s a liberal world and the Liberal Establishment is busy indoctrinating little liberals who will take their places in the academic world.

You may ask how I know all this. I read, I observe, I discuss this with faculty members here and elsewhere. And I have been a faculty member at some eight universities in the U.S. And I know what I say is true. Sure, some of us conservatives survive and contribute to diversity of ideas. And some like Milton Friedman, Jean Kirkpatrick, and Robert Nozick rise to academic heights. But we conservatives cannot be claimed as diversity agents in the university.


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Comments

Lassey Johnson August 23, 2007 | 6:33 a.m.

Professor,
With all due respect, I would like to quote you: "Say little or nothing, for it will do little good to say anything." Yes, but you've said a great deal, haven't you?
You are a professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism. You lead, you advise, and you have contributed. Chances are, there are many students who consider you a wellspring of wisdom. I am not one of your students, but know the value of men such as you. It's not what you think it is, but it is worthy.
Now, according to the above quote, obviously this refers to externally voicing your disdain for diversity and anyone who isn't you. But we have to share this world, Professor.
In many houses, there is only one lavatory. And though it is in the nature of some to want to mark up the whole thing, when others need it also, some discretion is needed.
And that, I think, is the real crux of your entire post. How can you, a gentleman, lament about being a gentleman, when the rewards of being a gentleman have produced such good things in your life?
What, you mean you wish you could behave differently, then? That you could walk down the halls of MU and tell everyone to take off their earrings, get a haircut, cover up those body parts, etc? That you could make fun of whomever you wished out in the open? Make gay jokes, slap women on the booty, and make racial slurs whenever you like? To then make those same people wash your car, take dictation, and snicker to yourself as they get scraped off your boot?
Well, you can't. Even in Missouri, at least on its college campuses. Because, those of us who choose our own liberties, do not damage others in so doing, because we do not control others in our doing so. In fact, that isn't even part of what we like to do, and we find it repulsive.
That, Professor Merrill, is why you can't be a diversity agent, and why you can't represent diversity driven groups and can only contribute to them to represent your demographic.
To have someone such as you, who hate having to leave the lid up, put it down afterwards, and not charge admission and force others to watch, running such an endeavour, would be like having a cat represent the mice at court.

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