Nancy Cantor and Diversity, from Syracuse to Sydney
December 31, 2005

Scale is everything. The multivitamin pill I take has 200 micrograms of chromium -- almost twice the "recommended daily value." A large quantity of chromium is poisonous. (A large enough quantity of water is poisonous.)

So it is with "diversity." If you live in a cosmopolitan college town, the exceptional individuals you meet from all over the world are, indeed, an enriching presence in your community. Your daily 200 microgram dose of "diversity" is good for your mind and soul.

It is not enough, in itself, to make you wise. Unfortunately, the "elite" levels of society -- journalists, educators, politicians -- have adopted the faddish idea that any kind of "diversity" you can think of is totally ginger-peachy.

They are guilty of a fallacious way of thinking that I call Hubbardism, after the philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. LRH did come up with some interesting ideas and there are some worthy insights here and there in his numinous, voluminous writings, but he could also make a small observation in the morning and, by the afternoon, have it blown up into some supposedly profound universal law.

The Cult of Diversity is filled with people who think according to that style. I attended a lecture by Nancy Cantor six or seven years ago. She was all giddy and effervescent about diversity and interdisciplinary studies and about the "grand societal experiments" she was involved in. The lecture was sparsely attended. Most of the attendees seemed to be over 60 years of age. I wanted to get up and yell, "Hey, how many of you bozos really believe in that drivel she is spouting?"

It was a huge intellectual breakthrough for humanity when people realized that the earth revolves around the sun. Nancy Cantor's diversity-centric theories of intellect are NOT such a breakthrough. Look, we all know that stimulating conversations with people of different backgrounds, perspectives and areas of expertise can be great fun and sometimes, somehow they can even help us solve problems in our own lives and areas of work. Cantor has taken that observation and turned it into a Fundamental Law of the Universe. Or something like that. She is now President and Chancellor of Syracuse University. Her general style of thinking is illustrated in an article from the Summer 2004 issue of Syracuse University Magazine.

It is an excellent introduction to what I call the "ABCD" formula: Always Be Celebrating Diversity. (Apologies to David Mamet.) The formula requires no thought. It's always diversity is great, diversity is good, blah, blah, blah. It's amazing. Those who claim that "diversity" will help students develop critical thinking skills never think critically about diversity.

Nancy Cantor is no exception. The only proper response to people who say ridiculous things is to subject them to ridicule. Here goes. From the SU Magazine article:

Q: Diversity is a core value at SU, and you have said, a necessary value in a multiracial democracy. How do you plan to support diversity here?

A: It is critical to articulate the different ways in which diversity and excellence intersect, and the way in which the institution's core missions are intertwined with being productive in a diverse democracy. We need to interweave the problems of a diverse democracy into the curriculum, and infuse our scholarship, and certainly our public engagements, with these issues. We want to emphasize commitments to intellectual and social diversity as commitments to creativity, brainstorming, and bringing different perspectives to bear. Our commitment to diversity is one in the same as our commitment to excellence.

It is a sad reflection on the state of higher education in America that a person who writes or utters such vapid drivel could be the president of a university. Alas, many other university presidents spout the same kind of tripe these days. I suspect that Cantor and all the rest of them believe they are being profoundly intellectual when they share their insights on the great topic of diversity. That just proves that they do not really "value" diversity in the first place. They are simply engaging in psychological projection. They really are surrounded by people who think just like they do, but they can't admit it, so they accuse ordinary citizens and especially incoming students from all white or mostly white communities of not having enough diversity in their lives.

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The micro-diversity of the faculty lounge and the macro-diversity of mass immigration are two entirely different things. And yet, implicit references to the former are the main justifications given for the latter. A visiting scholar from Peru is great. Having twenty Mexicans living next door is not.

The real results of mass importation of racially different peoples into white societies are now becoming apparent, although anyone who had not been hypnotized by the "diversity is our strength" mantra could have foreseen the problems.

It's like the movie Lawrence of Arabia (1962). T. E. Lawrence put a huge amount of effort into absorbing Bedouin culture. He came as close to becoming an Arab as an Englishman possibly could. Think about this: How long did it take you to learn all you know about the culture you were born into? And have you ever known any people who never learned how to act right within the culture they were born into? Some people pick up the clues, some don't. Even in situations of relative racial and ethnic uniformity.

So, when you have, not a few cream of the crop intellectual or artistic types, but large numbers of ordinary people from one culture living among people of a significantly more advanced culture, you should expect to have serious problems. The third-world immigrants do not even have the authoritarian aspects of their home cultures to keep any antisocial impulses in check. They do not have, on the average, the intellectual potential that would allow them to assimilate. Thus, the recent serious problems of Muslim riots in Australia and France. A bunch of happy talk about ethnic studies courses and intergroup dialogs and preparing "future leaders who can defuse conflicts" (from the SU Mag article) is essentially meaningless. I'm sure Ms. Cantor can "defuse conflicts" in the faculty lounge, but I'd really like to see her take a sabbatical and go to Australia and France and straighten things out.

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The SU Magazine offers another interesting quote:

"Encountering differences, rather than one's mirror image, is an essential part of a good education," Cantor and Michigan president Lee Bollinger co-wrote in a 1998 op-ed article in The Washington Post. "Race is educationally important for all students, because understanding race in America is a powerful metaphor for crossing sensibilities of all kinds."
There are three serious stupidities in that excerpt. First, people are not "mirror images" of others of their own race. Even siblings are not "mirror images" of each other. Second, I'm sure that "race is educationally important," but I do not believe that admitting black students to a university under standards different from those applied to white students does anything at all to forward that kind of "education." Thirdly, the study of race is important because racial conflicts have become serious issues in most white societies. It is not "because understanding race in America is a powerful metaphor for crossing sensibilities of all kinds." That "reason," by the way, is utterly absurd. It presumes, essentially, that all differences are the same. Once you understand race, you understand gender, class, ethnic, religious and political differences. Sorry to disappoint Nancy Cantor, the great intellectual, but, no, you don't.

I happen to have something that Nancy Cantor has apparently never had: a few friends who will tell me when I'm being an idiot. Well, I am no friend of Ms. Cantor, but I'll say it anyway. Ms. Cantor, you are being an idiot.

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Jared Taylor's The Myth of Diversity is a longer, more general critique of the subject. There is a discussion thread based on it in the American Renaissance News forum.

A note to students at Syracuse University: If you think I've made some valid points in the above, you might want to post a few links to it from student message boards, etc. Stir up a bit of controversy. Have fun! ;)

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Addendum, January 12, 2006:

There was an excellent posting a few days ago on FrontPageMag.com: Indoctrinating Students at Temple University by Thomas Ryan. Ryan includes an awesome quote From the book White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh, which is an assigned reading in a course taught by Melissa Gilbert:

It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.
I don't think anyone believes that all of us in the U.S.A. start out with exactly the same prospects in life or that there is a precise correlation between our "merit" and the rewards we happen to enjoy. Nonetheless, many of our institutions and practices are reasonably described by the word "meritocratic," as opposed to, say, aristocratic or egalitarian. There truly is a measure of upward mobility for many who seek it.

The McIntosh quote justly applies to two groups. First, the super-rich. They exert an enormous influence on government and education policies and can put in place measures that protect themselves from competition from below. The second group comprises college professors, diversity consultants, etc. I.e., Peggy McIntosh, Melissa Gilbert and their ilk. Go against their dogmas as a college student and see how much "freedom of confident action" you have. (Read the Tom Ryan article!) Then note how much "freedom of confident action" is available to people like Nancy Cantor. She has way too much of it! But, of course, that blessed state is projected onto an ordinary white male brought up in an intact family in a safe community -- no effort must be spared in convincing him that he is "privileged" and that the only proper course for his life is endless racial guilt and expiation.

By the way, the endless racial rectitude preached in our colleges and universities serves the inserests of the ultra-rich quite well. Why else do you think universities have been getting so many huge donations lately?

 
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