The Great Fallacy of Diversity

by | Apr 26, 2017

Black college students at Pomona College and Claremont Colleges recently published a manifesto that unwittingly reveals the fallacy of the premise behind racial diversity on campus and elsewhere.  The premise is that intellectual life is ipso facto enriched by diversity, a premise that even the Supreme Court has embraced.

The manifesto is pasted at the end of this commentary, but it is strongly suggested that you read this critique instead of the actual document, so you can maintain your mental health.

If you still insist on reading the manifesto, get a leather belt from your closet to bite on during the reading, as the students’ tortured grammar and thinking is akin to the medieval torture in which a victim’s head was slowly squeezed in a vice.

The manifesto is an inchoate mix of Marxist class warfare, black liberation theology, and harebrained social justice theories, as swallowed whole and then regurgitated by self-absorbed, idealistic, and poorly educated students.  Unfortunately, such toxic thinking can be found across academia and is leaking into the larger society, where it is poisoning other impaired intellects, especially in the pop culture, where an impaired intellect seems necessary for success.

The manifesto was addressed to the outgoing president of Pomona College, in response to a letter he had sent to the student body on academic freedom and free speech.  His letter was precipitated by the student protests (near riots) that had stopped Heather Mac Donald from speaking at Claremont McKenna College.

Mac Donald is a columnist and author who has published scholarly studies that debunk some of the canards behind the Black Lives Matter movement, chief among them that cops are a danger to black communities.  Based on verifiable statistics, she makes a compelling case that the real danger is black-on-black crime, a danger that is lessened when the police keep predators off the streets.

My natural inclination is to disagree with Mac Donald, given that I have been a longtime critic of the war on drugs, the militarization of the police, and the high incarceration rate in the USA, especially for black men.  But real learning doesn’t come from attacking or ignoring her.  It comes from listening carefully to what she has to say, checking her sources, and relying on personal insights and knowledge gained over a lifetime of intellectual pursuits to question her findings, including reading such scholarly counterviews as Radley Balko’s book, Rise of the Warrior Cop.

Dray, Avery, and Shanaya don’t agree with the above statement about real learning.  Who are they?  They are the authors of the manifesto, which was co-signed by 24 fellow students. Cutting through their pseudo-intellectual babble, their argument comes down to this:

  • They are marginalized, oppressed people, and as such, have nothing to learn from their white oppressors or from white institutions and ideas.
  • Mac Donald is a white fascist and therefore shouldn’t be allowed on a college campus, where truth should be the goal.
  • Free speech is a white idea that came out of the Enlightenment, an idea that has no merit because whites owned slaves at the time.
  • The power structure of the United States and the West is a legacy of colonialism, imperialism and slavery, a legacy that keeps whites in power and keeps non-whites marginalized.
  • Colleges are a part of this oppressive system.
  • The oppressed can’t overturn the system by playing by the system’s rules.

Get the leather belt.

As I’ve written elsewhere, this thinking is what happens when people read only Volume II of a twelve-volume set of history, philosophy, literature, anthropology, economics, sociology, and political science.

Volume I is all that many Americans used to read.  It was the volume of the American Revolution, of Manifest Destiny, of the shining city on a hill, of American exceptionalism, of “Father Knows Best,” of “Leave It to Beaver,” of the Pledge of Allegiance, of cowboys versus Injuns, and of Gary Cooper and John Wayne.

Volume II says that all of Volume I is a crock, because it is a white view of the world that overlooks the awful things that the nation and the West have done to non-whites.

Subsequent volumes in the twelve-volume set show that the first two volumes have some truths in them but are simplistic, sophomoric, and unnecessarily bipolar.

Admittedly, I’ve made it to only Volume VI, even though I’m more than three times older than the manifesto’s authors, have two college degrees, have authored a book, have published scores of scholarly and polemical articles for periodicals, and have pursued intellectual interests all of my life, including reading a book a week, on average, mostly on history, philosophy, economics, and sociology.  I was also at the leading edge of the equal rights and diversity movements, two movements that are being subverted by today’s generation of radical ignoramuses.

My biggest learning is that I’m still woefully unlearned.  By contrast, the authors of the manifesto, as well as their fellow travelers, are too ignorant to realize how ignorant they are.  They suffer from the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which is named after two Cornell University academics who described the phenomenon of being blinded by ignorance.  It’s ludicrous to think that one’s intellectual life can be enriched by associating with the intellectual blind, just because they are of a different race; but that is the premise behind today’s bastardization of the original meaning of diversity.  True intellectual enrichment comes from associating with those who are more educated, not less, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.

My other learning isn’t profound but hasn’t dawned on the manifesto’s authors yet—namely, that human nature is by definition universal.  As such, all races have the same propensity for good and evil, as demonstrated across millennia, across different cultures, and across different forms of government.  On the dark side, all races have histories of being cruel, oppressive, and even genocidal.

The authors of the manifesto do not say how they would achieve the justice they desire, what form of government is the most just, and what would happen if they were in charge of that government.

Do they desire Bolshevism, Maoism, the mix of socialism and nationalism known as fascism, a constitutional and democratic republic, or what?  Will they model their revolution on the bloody French Revolution, the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Spanish Revolution, the American Revolution, velvet glove revolutions, or what?  Will they have a closed society or an open society?  Will they have civil liberties inclusive of free speech or something else?   And when they are in charge and achieve their social nirvana, will they be humanistic, enlightened, inclusive, pluralistic, or something else?

History suggests that they will be something else.  One only needs to go back several decades to see what happened to the Weathermen and Black Liberation Army, whose thoughts about race were similar to the thinking on college campuses today.  These revolutionaries couldn’t even achieve social justice and harmony within their small groups, let alone an entire nation.  They quickly degenerated into infighting, recriminations, battles for power and control, and even internecine violence.

Or one can go back to the Cultural Revolution in China, a revolution based on class instead of race—a revolution in which  college cadres were easily brainwashed into persecuting those who dared to depart from the party line.  Sound familiar?

In conclusion, racial diversity without intellectual freedom and pluralism leads to the tortured thinking in the manifesto, which is reprinted below.  If you still want to read it, don’t forget to bite on a leather belt.  Alternatively, you could flagellate yourself with the belt, as that would be less painful than reading the manifesto.

Manifesto

Dear David Oxtoby,

We, few of the Black students here at Pomona College and the Claremont Colleges, would like to address several of the points made in your ‘Academic Freedom and Free Speech’ email sent out to the entire student body on April 7, 2017 in response to a student protest against Heather Mac Donald’s talk at Claremont McKenna College’s (CMC) Athenaeum. We believe that given your position as President of this institution your voice holds significant weight in campus discourse. That power comes with immense responsibility, especially when you could dictate campus culture, climate, and the alleged mission of this institution. As President, you are charged with upholding principles of Pomona College. Though this institution as well as many others including this entire country, have been founded upon the oppression and degradation of marginalized bodies, it has a liability to protect the students that it serves. The paradox is that Pomona’s past is rooted in domination of marginalized peoples and communities and the student body has a significant population of students from these backgrounds. Your recent statement reveals where Pomona’s true intentions lie.

Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions. It has not just empowered students from marginalized backgrounds to voice their qualms and criticize aspects of the institution, but it has given those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry. Thus, if “our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth,” how does free speech uphold that value? The notion of discourse, when it comes to discussions about experiences and identities, deters the ‘Columbusing’ of established realities and truths (coded as ‘intellectual inquiry’) that the institution promotes. Pomona cannot have its cake and eat it, too. Either you support students of marginalized identities, particularly Black students, or leave us to protect and organize for our communities without the impositions of your patronization, without your binary respectability politics, and without your monolithic perceptions of protest and organizing. In addition, non-Black individuals do not have the right to prescribe how Black people respond to anti-Blackness.

Your statement contains unnuanced views surrounding the academy and a belief in searching for some venerated truth. Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples. The idea that there is a single truth–’the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples. We, Black students, exist with a myriad of different identities. We are queer, trans, differently-abled, poor/low-income, undocumented, Muslim, first-generation and/or immigrant, and positioned in different spaces across Africa and the African diaspora. The idea that we must subject ourselves routinely to the hate speech of fascists who want for us not to exist plays on the same Eurocentric constructs that believed Black people to be impervious to pain and apathetic to the brutal and violent conditions of white supremacy.

The idea that the search for this truth involves entertaining Heather Mac Donald’s hate speech is illogical. If engaged, Heather Mac Donald would not be debating on mere difference of opinion, but the right of Black people to exist. Heather Mac Donald is a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live. Why are you, and other persons in positions of power at these institutions, protecting a fascist and her hate speech and not students that are directly affected by her presence?

Advocating for white supremacy and giving white supremacists platforms wherefrom their toxic and deadly illogic may be disseminated is condoning violence against Black people. Heather Mac Donald does not have the right to an audience at the Athenaeum, a private venue wherefrom she received compensation. Dictating and condemning non-respectable forms of protest while parroting the phrase that “protest has a celebrated” place on campus is contradictory at best and anti-Black at worst.

This is not an argument rooted in Heather’s loss of “free speech” or academic freedom. She is a well-known public figure, her views are well documented. Rather, our praxis is focused on not allowing her anti-Black platform to be legitimized in front of an audience, which she does not have the right to. Engaging with her, a white supremacist fascist supporter of the police state, is a form of violence.

Protest that doesn’t disrupt the status quo is benign and doesn’t function to overthrow systems of oppression, which is the ultimate goal.

To conclude our statement, we invite you to respond to this email by Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 4:07pm (since we have more energy to expend on the frivolity of this institution and not Black lives). Also, we demand a revised email sent to the entire student body, faculty, and staff by Thursday, April 20, 2017, apologizing for the previous patronizing statement, enforcing that Pomona College does not tolerate hate speech and speech that projects violence onto the bodies of its marginalized students and oppressed peoples, especially Black students who straddle the intersection of marginalized identities, and explaining the steps the institution will take and the resources it will allocate to protect the aforementioned students. We also demand that Pomona College and the Claremont University Consortium entities take action against the Claremont Independent editorial staff (http://claremontindependent.com/meet-the-staff/) for its continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds. Provided that the Claremont Independent releases the identity of students involved with this letter and such students begin to receive threats and hate mail, we demand that this institution and its constituents take legal action against members of the Claremont Independent involved with the editing and publication process as well as disciplinary action, such as expulsion on the grounds of endangering the wellbeing of others.

 

Authored by:

Dray Denson PO ’20

Avery Jonas PO ’20

Shanaya Stephenson PO ’19

Co-Signatories:

Victor Bene PZ ’19

Bemnet Gebrechirstos SC ’19

Jordan Howard-Jennings HMC ’19

Gabby Snowden SC ’19

Eliamani Ismail SC ’20

Katarina Figueroa

Karé Ureña PZ ’18

Leandra Vargas PZ ’18

Malaika Ogukwe PO ’19

Journey Simmons PO ’20

Mazvita Nyamuzuwe SC ’20

Noemi Delgado PZ ’19

Sherlan Lord PZ ’19

Leya Solomon PO ’19

Vanessa Akinnibosun SC ’19

Zemia Edmondson PO ‘20

Neyissa Desir PO ’19

Sega Birhane HMC ’20

Ramonda Giddings HMC ’17

Matt Simon HMC ’18

Jillian Cardamon HMC ’20

Jasmine David PO ’19

Justis Allen HMC ’17

Donely Gunn HMC ’18

 

Our Books

thisone

Related Articles

Related

Drone Assassination: Inconvenient Facts

On the assassination of Ayman al-Zawahiri by U.S. drone in Kabul (from Accuracy.org): [Laurie Calhoun] said today: “President Biden has pivoted from the multiple crises of his administration — inflation, heightened tensions with China and Iran, and even the very real...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This