Scene One: Five friends walk into a bar. Each is a fundamentalist pro-Life Trump-supporting Republican who’s never disagreed with the other four about anything. But one is white, another black, one brown, one yellow, and one red. Scene Two: Five all white men walk into a bar. Only one is a fundamentalist pro-Life Trump-supporting Republican; another is a foaming-at-the-mouth rabid socialist, a third is a devotee of the Dalai Lama, a fourth is a Flat-Earther, and the fifth is a thrice convicted pedophile and hate-preacher. But from the perspective of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives – now pretty much ubiquitous in universities and colleges all across the United States and Canada, including at the University of Lethbridge – the first group is diverse, whereas the second is not. Why is that?
Because some group being diverse is not a well-formed formula. A more demanding Carnapian syntax would require a with-respect-to followed by some fill-in-the-blank. The first group is racially diverse, but not ideologically. So in recruitment, hiring and promotion, are we looking for mere cosmetic diversity, which contributes nothing to a more enriched learning and working environment, or are we looking for substantive diversity, which presumably contributes a lot?
The assumption, or so I can only suppose, is that racial diversity is a reliable enough metonym for diversity of perspective. So though no two blacks see the world the same, nor do any two whites, the typical – by which is meant stereotypical – black man has more in common with other black men than he does with the typical – by which is meant the stereotypical – white man.
Fair enough, say I. But then let’s not bitch about stereotypes, since without them this argument, whether sound or not, can’t get off the ground.
Now then, I’m reasonably certain that this commonality among but not between birds of a feather was true in, say, 1776. I’m less certain, but certain enough, that it continues to be true today, to the extent that the descendants of slaves bear the scars of slavery too. But let’s not kid ourselves that we’re looking for just any ol’ diversity. We’re looking for diversities that are easy to point to, and we’re looking to avoid diversities that would challenge the range of acceptable perspectives, a range that varies with the alacrity of the political weather. So, for example, in 2020 a trans-woman? By all means. But an out-of-the-closet pedophile? By no means.
And what this shows, I submit, is that we’re not looking for the kind of diversity that would encourage students and professors and administrators to think out of the box. On the contrary, we’re looking for orthodoxy, but orthodoxy shrouded by a veneer of ecumenism.
So what am I advocating? That we take advantage of the current fixation on intersectionality and hit two – or better yet three – birds with one stone. The next admission, hire, or promotion, should be a trans-racial pedophile.