American Elephants

Puncturing the Pretensions of the Progressives by The Elephant's Child

Donkeys 1

I wrote earlier about the problem of “Diversity”— that progressive catch-word — around which they attempt to arrange all their bright ideas. “Diversity,” they believe, is a positive good. Wealthy neighborhoods, or for that matter any neighborhoods that do not house the correct numbers of varying races and ethnicities need to be “fixed.”

And, on the other side,  we have the victims of progressive diversity demands (affirmative action) such as National Merit scholars who can’t get into elite universities like Harvard because the category of Asian students already matches the percentage of Asians in the economy, so students of different race and ethnicity must be admitted instead despite lower SAT scores. So we are trading brighter doctors and scientists and businessmen for the precious idea of diversity. And that makes sense just how?

The real problem is that “diversity” doesn’t produce the desired effect. The more diverse or integrated a neighborhood becomes, the less socially cohesive it becomes, and the more homogenous or segregated, the more socially cohesive. Simple. A mom and dad prefer their children to other children. Having a child does not produce liking for all children. People prefer their compatriots to strangers from another country. This is not prejudice, but a natural affinity for those with whom you have something in common. It’s what humans do.

Progressives believe “diversity” is a necessity in the quest for social justice which is the shining goal of the left. The pursuit of social justice is the reason for empathy, for welfare, for caring for others. The pursuit of that goal renders philanthropy harmful. William Voegeli notes:

The alliance of experts and victims will progress toward its goals more slowly and with greater difficulty if amateurs, hobbyists, and dilettantes are mucking about, trying to alleviate a victim’s suffering. They don’t know what they’re doing, and should keep out of the way of people who do. Furthermore, caring for others by any other means than supporting with votes and taxes, welfare state programs to enact and adequately fund those programs postpones rather than hastens the realization of social justice.

“I gave at the office” should mean just one thing: the taxes withheld from my paycheck are funding government programs, the only path to social justice. If it means, instead, charitable contributions are activities that endorse the efficacy and virtue of extragovernmental efforts to ameliorate suffering situations, the pursuit of social justice is thwarted. The more government takes over welfare — the weaker the fellow feeling of the other ties.

The famous American skeptic H.L Mencken once wrote, “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs really seek: not the chance to serve.” Or to put it a little differently — Social Justice doesn’t mean that at last everybody is finally equal. It means that you are all equal, and we are in charge.

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I always tend to shy away from people when they talk about “diversity” until I know what they are talking about. To those on the right, “diversity” means a blend of thoughts and ideas and experiences and those elements that make up a person’s character – things you cannot know about a person until you interact with them.

To those on the left, “diversity” means something different. To them, the yardstick they use to measure “diversity” are things like color, or gender, or orientation, or ethnicity. To the left, these things matter because different colors, different genders, and different ethnicities automatically bring diverse thought and experience.


The left seems to operate on the idea that simply because you have a different skin color, or gender, ethnic group, that your ideas are valuable. But here’s the thing they won’t (and CAN’T) acknowledge; EVERYONE has different backgrounds (even those raised by the same parents). EVERYONE thinks differently. EVERYONE has different experiences and reactions to them (you and I could ride the same roller-coaster at the same time; I could love it, you not so much). Except in the vaguest, most general terms, you cannot point to someone and say “that person thinks this because they are (white/black/Asian/Mexican/male/female/gay/straight/etc./etc./etc.)”. And in most cases, what the left’s idea of “diversity” provides is only superficialities; what does being gay have to do with being able to catch a football, for example. Barack Obama is celebrated as the first black president. How has his skin color made his performance in office any better or worse?


Comment by Lon Mead

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