Monday, August 20, 2007

Diversity's Ends - The last few weeks have not quite been art imitating life, but more like life imitating research. It was bad enough that Harvard researcher-cum-policy advocate Robert Putnam's recent study on diversity seemed to suggest that less was better. A Boston Globe article referenced Dr. Putnam's investigation thusly.

[A] massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.
The story got a bit more interesting, given Dr. Putnam's acknowledged "pro-diversity" leanings.

Suddenly finding himself the bearer of bad news, Putnam has struggled with how to present his work. He gathered the initial raw data in 2000 and issued a press release the following year outlining the results. He then spent several years testing other possible explanations.

When he finally published a detailed scholarly analysis in June in the journal Scandinavian Political Studies, he faced criticism for straying from data into advocacy. His paper argues strongly that the negative effects of diversity can be remedied, and says history suggests that ethnic diversity may eventually fade as a sharp line of social demarcation.
For those who do not speak Globese, let me translate: When Dr. Putnam's results did not fit into his preconceived notions about diversity, Dr. Putnam sat on his data for seven years until he could come up with an explanation that supported his biases. Failing that, he hid his findings in the most obscure journal that would publish his work. Even then, he could not abandon his advocacy of diversity, despite his own findings to the contrary.

Of course "diversity" was never intended as anything to be examined objectively. The word was always meant as something of an incantation, presumably to ward off conservative thinking on race and gender. (As I think on it now, every time I've heard liberals drop the "D-bomb," it was with a Harry Potteresque flourish, as if they expected the Muggle who necessitated its use to fall silent.)

Diversity proponents always flashed their dubious studies suggesting that diverse teams were more productive and made better decisions. Millions of workers were forced to endure "diversity training" as both a punishment for real and ethereal sins and as a prophylactic against potential affronts against minorities or women. And yet, none of their studies could explain the successes of homogeneous cultures such as those that prevail in Japan, China, India... or Minnesota. But as long as the Left could maintain its sanctuary from scrutiny, all was well. (Which is to say, as long a Americans made some faint-hearted attempt to assimilate, the diversity facade would remain unmolested.)

And then there was one.

And then six.

And somewhere along the line, there came to be 12 million (give or give a few million.)

Whatever we may think about the plight of the world's poor,
honesty obliges us to acknowledge that what sets present-day "immigrants" apart from those in decades past is that very few of today's huddled masses seem particularly impressed with the need to fit in. During the first of the most recent immigration rallies, illegal aliens waved the flags of their homelands as opposed to the American flag; one would be forgiven for observing the irony of protesters waving the flags of countries that they left at the earliest opportunity, while refusing to carry the flag of the nation that they went through great tribulations to enter.

The new aliens got a good whiff of the zeitgeist prior to their arrival. Thanks to the American Left, rights have been seen as fully divorced from responsibilities. So in a sense, Elvira Arellano is absolutely right when she pronounces herself an immigration "activist" (more proof that our language is descending into an Orwellian abyss of meaninglessness), and that she "deserves" to stay here in America; she is doubtless more assimilated than we give her credit.

By my lights, a recent Wall Street Journal
op-ed on diversity summed up how we got here most succinctly.

The diversity ideologues deserve whatever ill tidings they get. They're the ones who weren't willing to persuade the public of diversity's merits, preferring to turn "diversity" into a political and legal hammer to compel compliance. The conversions were forced conversions... Diversity's advocates gave short shrift to assimilation, indeed arguing that assimilation into the American mainstream was oppressive and coercive. So they demoted assimilation and elevated "differences."
Diversity's end came when it was seen not as a thought, but as an anti-thought; its siren call was that recitation could replace cogitation. Liberals never yielded to diversity's entreaties because they were intellectually persuasive, but because they were a moral around which they could construct their story. No arguments were offered to those who did not see the wisdom of "inclusion," because argument was not part of the bargain for liberals. As can be said for much of liberalism, when diversity's fog was pierced by broad daylight, the wisdom of its implementation vanished as a vapor.

No comments: