How diversity became diversity

I haven’t read Peter Wood’s Diversity, but I’ve just read John Derbyshire’s well-written review of it in The New Criterion (which I came upon inadvertently at, by searching for “Wood,” “race,” and “respectable”), and it triggers certain crystalizations of thought. In the below paraphrase and gloss I wrote of Derbyshire’s review, I’m keeping with Wood’s convention of italicizing “diversity” when used in the ideological sense as distinct from the ethnic, demographic sense:

Before diversity, there was diversity, which took in all the actual differences within the human race and was interesting and exciting. Diversity also contained an implicit, innocent sense of “us” on one side and the diverse “them” on the other. Then diversity took over, which defined society as a collection of equal cultures. From that point on, instead of looking at diversity, we kept saying that diversity is this wonderful thing that we must welcome and celebrate. But to welcome and celebrate diversity, we had to deny all the things about diversity that might be alien or off-putting. So diversity was defined as sameness. Diversity meant to stop noticing or saying anything about diversity.

While Wood’s book (via Derbyshire’s review) offers fresh and illuminating insights into the difference between diversity and diversity, it does not, according to Derbyshire and several other commentators on it whom I’ve read, tell how diversity turned into diversity. My own view (which I’ve explained in my 1990 pamphlet The Path to National Suicide and in this article) is that diversity was derived in large part from the fatal juxtaposition of the liberal idea of equality with the actual, massive, revolutionary increase of ethnic diversity in our society after 1965. In the very act of embracing universal equality and openness in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Immigration Act, we had in principle—without yet realizing it in fact—surrendered our historic national identity as a white majority country. So, when the actual diversity resulting from immigration suddenly and massively appeared, we had no basis on which to criticize it, and no choice but to celebrate it. An idea that was unqualifiedly good in the whole had to be unqualifiedly good in the parts. As a result, the ideology of multiculturalism and racial proportionality soon appeared, and began to be systematically and progressively imposed on the whole society, on every institution in the society, and on every level within every institution. Thus diversity was born out of diversity. While the effort to raise the condition of blacks was of course the original motivating impulse behind the demand for racial preferences, it seems most unlikely that diversity could have become our national religion if America had avoided the post-1965 immigration and had remained a relatively homogeneous country with an 89 percent white majority and a 10 percent black minority.

Furthermore, as Carol Iannone explains in her review of Wood’s book in National Review, liberals and pro-multicultural Republicans such as President Bush constantly and confusingly shift back and forth between the two diversities, invoking our ever increasing diversity in the ethnic sense (something no mainstream American dreams of opposing) to advance diversity in the racial proportionality sense. And so America continues to transform itself into a totalitarian system of racial socialism.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 01, 2003 07:41 PM | Send

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