Meaningful Diversity

Is a group a bland puree unless it includes a “critical mass” of the targeted minorities?

Peter Minowitz’ newly published and freely available paper in Perspectives on Political Science.

. . . as if colorful skin guarantees colorful thinking and white skin precludes it . . .

Identity politics and affirmative action may well have met a vital need since there was undeniably a correlation with lived experience but now it has morphed into precisely the racist essentialism that we liberals sought to reject. Out of touch campus commissars and politicos are so wedded to this shallow notion of identity that they don’t realize (and are not interested) as to how profoundly condescending, disrespectful and insulting they are to “those of color” who want to be judged by their ideas, intellect, character, talents and insights. Instead they unforgivably hector, smear and shame those who dare stray from this oppressive ideological plantation.

Much of this state of affairs is a consequence of making the university crudely functional to the market, with academics and (the naturally inclined) statist administrators/bureaucraps in cahoots with each other. The simplistic socio-political “promise” that a university education was/is the fastest and most effective track to career success was promoted, as least in the UK, by the Right in the ’80s. This was a terrific opportunity for the “regressive left” (who already had a substantial beach-head) to quickly step in — and what we got was an uncritical proliferation of the university, filled by activism masquerading as inquiry. The upshot is that genuine liberal education, the idea to think critically and be intellectually and socially experimental, the understanding of the postulates of our beautiful liberal achievement, has been profoundly corroded. And beyond the intrinsic loss, there is the unintended consequence of pseudo-inquiry being of little instrumental value to a full range of professions, callings, occupations and trades (i.e. the market). It should be no surprise then that so many PhDs have been and are hustling to get a job in the safe space called the academy (where supply outstrips demand), and in the service of this understandably have to be parti pris, suffocating intellectual dissent (assuming they ever entertained any). Of course, there is a social status side to those who seek to enter the high church of activism in the academy. They typically view themselves as the Platonic high priests of reason and rationality in all matters (especially as it relates to the demos): this despite the overwhelming empirical literature showing this to be the grossest of psychological fantasies. But then these people are not in the knowledge business, they are in the self-preservation business — no wonder they and their canon-fodder acolytes behave as stressed bull terriers. The regressive Left and the fundamentalist Right have been complicitous in this state of affairs.