Hanson exposes the problems associated with the ‘diversity industry’

Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest National Review Online column exposes the problems associated with the pursuit of “cosmetic” diversity, the type of diversity “mostly to be distinguishable by the eye — skin color, gender, etc. — rather than internal and predicated on differences in political ideology or values.”

[A]s we near a half-century of racial preferences, the entire industry is now obsolete, as illiberal as it is counterproductive. Quite simply, there were inherent flaws in affirmative action/diversity that were never addressed. And they now have come back to haunt the entire experiment as something as corrupt and unworkable as our far briefer trial with Prohibition.

Hanson offers a list of reasons for dismantling the “diversity industry.” Among them: the impossible task of using affirmative action or diversity policies to determine who needs help.

There was always the sneaking suspicion that affirmative action was based not just on historical claims but on present performance levels — or at least sort of. In theory, Chinese-Americans or Japanese-Americans could claim a toxic collective prejudice that matches anything turned against blacks, Native Americans, or Mexican-Americans, given immigration exclusion laws, zoning prejudices, and internment. But at some magical moment, suddenly “Asian” was no longer grounds for redress, but rather a reason for discrimination. We see this clearly in the University of California system, and especially at the flagship Berkeley campus, where the GPA and SAT scores of Asian students have to be higher than those of their black or Hispanic counterparts for them to gain admission.

As “affirmative action” transmogrified into “diversity,” and Asians became “overrepresented” on some campuses, universities stealthily began discriminating against them — almost as if to say, “Yes, your Japanese grandmother was put into a camp during World War II, but obviously that trauma, or lingering anti-Asian discrimination, did not haunt you at all, given your 4.0 GPA and your 1,500 SAT score, so therefore we see no need to offer you an advantage.” Or is it worse still?: “Obviously such past bias not only did not hurt you but also did not hurt thousands like you, who outperform others and therefore must be collectively curtailed in order to allow space for others.” But note here that success must be collective: The children of elite suburban African-Americans and Mexican-Americans still do benefit from affirmative action, on the logic that the barrio and the ghetto are still with us in a manner that sweatshops and internment camps are not.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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