The fallacy of self-exclusion is an old saw in philosophy. Common example? Intolerance of intolerance. Or, “There’s no place for hate at the University of Fill-in-the-Blank!”, except of course for our hatred of haters. Or, “Our mandate is a university where everyone feels they belong!”, except of course for people who feel some people don’t belong. But hang on. If you think people who feel some people don’t belong don’t belong, then those people must include you! So clearly you don’t want a university where everyone feels they belong.

The way around this paradox, dilemma – call it what you will – is to just be upfront at the outset. “On this matter and that one – and perhaps a few others – we want orthodoxy!” And it’s likewise for what you mean by diversity. “We want diversity, to be sure. But we don’t want doxastic diversity, a.k.a. heterodoxy, if that were to include certain ideological heresies.” Such as? “Well, such as that trans women aren’t women, or that the Indian Residential School program wasn’t genocide, or …”

Don’t get me wrong, which you probably will. My beef is not with an institution demanding orthodoxy. That’s why religions have their dogmas, and political parties have their platforms. If you can’t subscribe to that dogma or platform, then leave, or don’t join in the first place. That’s just a duh! And I’d allow the same for a university, provided it’s upfront about what it’s about.

Nor is my beef with hypocrisy, which I regard, at least in myself, as one of our species’ more charming foibles. Rather my beef is with any need for this hypocrisy. Why not call a spade a spade? Why do universities pretend “there’s no place for hate here” when clearly there is? Why do they pretend to be seeking perspectival diversity when clearly they’re not? Especially when they’re knowingly not fooling anyone.

But my point is, nor do they need to. I like job ads that make it clear that “white males need not apply”. It saves a whole lot of wasted keystrokes. And to what purpose? It used to be such an ad would be actionable. But those laws have changed, on this side of the 49th and on the other. So most if not all of this oxymoronic inclusion and diversity rhetoric is vestigial. And so I guess it’s this vestigiality that’s getting at me.

Martin Luther King had a dream. But the way his successors are trying to make it come true – and perhaps there’s no other way – is by ensuring that it doesn’t. Just one of life’s aforementioned little ironies, I guess. Will it, some day, in spite of their efforts? Now wouldn’t that be an ironic irony?!

Categories: Editorials, Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask, Social and Political Philosophy

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