Fellows with Friedman
America is experiencing a diversity and inclusion conundrum. History offers lessons that remind us that diversity was always considered a liability in the history of nations—not an asset. Ancient Greece’s numerous enemies eventually overran the 1,500 city-states because the Greeks were never able to sublimate their parochial, tribal, and ethnic differences to unify under a common Hellenism. The Balkans were always a lethal powder keg due to the region’s vastly different religions and ethnicities where East and West traditionally collided—from Roman and Byzantine times through the Ottoman imperial period to the bloody twentieth century. Such diversity often caused destructive conflicts of ethnic and religious hatred. Europe, for centuries, did not celebrate the religiously diverse mosaic of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians. Instead, it tore itself apart in a half-millennium of killing and warring that continued into the late twentieth century in places like Northern Ireland.
However, history also offers success stories, albeit few, when it comes to diversity. Rome, for one, managed to weld together millions of different Mediterranean, European, and African tribes and peoples through the shared ideas of Roman citizenship and equality under the law. That reality endured for some 500 years. The Founders of the Roman Republic were a few hundred thousand Latin-speaking Italians. Still, the inheritors of their vision of Roman Republican law and constitutionalism were a diverse group of millions of people all over the Mediterranean. History’s other positive example is the United States, which has proven one of the only genuinely diverse societies in history to remain relatively stable and unified. A diverse America requires constant reminders of e pluribus unum and the need for assimilation and integration. The idea of Americanism is an undeniably brutal bargain in which we all give up primary allegiance to our tribes to become fellow Americans redefined by shared ideas rather than mere appearance. If America is to survive this fourth century of its existence, it will soon have to recalibrate from “celebrating diversity” to “celebrating unity.”
Click here, to read more about how “Diversity Can Spell Trouble.”
Universities are finding that achieving diversity is difficult. In Fisher vs. The University of Texas, the Supreme Court heard legal challenges to the University of Texas’s admissions policies, which allow consideration of an applicant’s race to promote “diversity” among the school’s students. Such racial preferences are widespread in university admissions. In 80 percent of elite schools, they amount to the equivalent of a 100-point boost in SAT scores, according to research by UCLA law professor Richard Sander and journalist Stuart Taylor.
But even if the Supreme Court strikes down the use of race as a determining factor in admissions, the institutionalized racism and discrimination of university race-conscious admissions criteria will not necessarily be eliminated. Universities will continue to promote identity politics ideology under the guise of “diversity.”
As Bruce Thornton argues, “diversity” is an incoherent concept since it is premised on an ideologically skewed interpretation of history. The complexities of actual diversity are ignored by its more superficial variant, and the contradiction in most universities’ idea of diversity is that it functions in terms of stereotypical, simplistic, race-based categories that ignore all of the other ways in which people are diverse, ways that could enrich the university. Real diversity is enormous in its variety, encompassing scores of ethnic groups, economic strata, regions, political views, and religions.
Focusing on the diversity of skin-tone, hair texture, and surname cannot truly add diversity to a university. To achieve that aim, the only diversity that matters is the diversity of individual, disagreeing minds.
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Diversity, being essential for freedom, has become a precursor in many industries. From Facebook to Apple to Goldman Sachs, and academic establishments from UC Berkeley to Harvard to Yale, establishments are striving to be as inclusive as possible. However, achieving it is not straightforward. If left unchallenged, the new consensus for diversity and inclusion can have the unintended consequence of creating intellectual rigidity.
Another difficulty with diversity and inclusion is that it says very little about whom to admit and whom to exclude. The scarcity of places is a significant constraint, so any institution committed to diversity and inclusion has to decide whom to exclude from its community.
Organizations also have to understand the importance of diversity in order to better serve their global clientele, which is needed as members and employees have to be comfortable dealing with all sorts of coworkers, customers, and contractors from the four corners of the globe. By the same token, however, too much difference and variation in the workplace can come at a cost as well, undermining the shared sense of mission necessary for organizational success. Unfortunately, the diversity and inclusion movement downplays the only two ways to deal with these internal conflicts, both of which involve exclusion.
Diversity and inclusion are necessary, but achieving them is not an easy feat.
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