The Diversity Disaster

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The Diversity Delusion:  How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture
By Heather Mac Donald
St. Martin’s Press

In her superb book The Diversity Delusion, Heather Mac Donald explains how reflexive accusations of racism and sexism, the demand for “safe spaces,” and contempt for the values of reason and due process have not only corrupted the Academy but have increasingly become the dominant culture in business, government, and society at large.

She describes how the following ideas now are the received wisdom in the Academy and in much of our culture: that human beings are defined by their skin color, sex, and sexual preference; that discrimination based on these characteristics has been the driving force in Western civilization; and that America remains a profoundly bigoted place, where heterosexual white males continue to deny opportunity to everyone else. These ideas may be categorized under the rubric of “diversity” and identity politics.

As is well known, there is racial and ethnic diversity in U.S. colleges and universities. There is also social and economic diversity among faculty and students. There is gender diversity and even transgender diversity. But there is nearly a total absence of intellectual diversity on college and university campuses. There is such a toxic intellectual climate on most campuses that conservative speakers sometimes need police escorts to speak at public meetings. And occasionally, speakers end up videotaping their lectures alone in a classroom or studio, because campus fascists use intimidation and violence to prevent conservative speakers from giving their message. This, in fact, happened to Heather Mac Donald at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California and at UCLA.

In 2017, Mac Donald was invited by the Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna to give a talk about her book The War on Cops. In what has now become the typical strategy of the Left, calls went out on Facebook to “shut down” this “notorious white supremacist fascist Heather Mac Donald.” Being committed to reason and civil discourse as well as remarkably courageous, Mac Donald went ahead with her plans to speak. Arriving on campus, she was put in what was effectively a “safe house,” while a crowd of protestors grew to two hundred or more. When she was taken to the Athenaeum, a large lecture hall where she was to give her speech, she found it empty, as the protestors had prevented anyone from entering it. Finally, the administration decided that she should give her talk on live-stream video in the empty hall. Shortly after giving her speech, she was whisked away in a police van, as the administration was worried that the demonstration would get out of hand.

The night before her speech at Claremont McKenna, Mac Donald gave a speech at UCLA titled “Blue Lives Matter.” After she finished her talk and welcomed questions, protestors stormed the front of the classroom and demanded the mic, chanting loudly “America was never great” and “Black Lives Matter, they matter here.” After ten minutes of shouting, the organizers of the event managed to get some students to line up for questions. When a question about Black Lives Matter was raised, Ms. Mac Donald was asked whether “black victims killed by cops” mattered. She answered “Yes. And do black children that other blacks kill matter to you?” That aroused gasps and angry outcries and finger pointing. Ms. Mac Donald continued:  “Of course, I care that black victims are killed by cops and do you know what:  there is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police?” This was too much for some of the students who began to hurl coarse epithets at her. She made further attempts to articulate her points but she was interrupted by the students. At that point, the organizers ended the event, and she was ushered out of the room with a police escort.

What have we come to in America when conservative speakers on campus are either prevented from speaking or are assaulted, either verbally or physically as the nationally renowned Charles Murray and Professor Allison Stanger were at Middlebury College in March 2017? Who are the real fascists on campus? The ones actually using the methods and tactics of the brownshirt S.A. are left-liberal progressive students and faculty. It is they who use innuendo, slander, intimidation, and violence to silence reason and civil discourse.

How did we get here? Ms. Mac Donald describes how students at some of the most elite, prestigious colleges and universities in the world describe themselves as “oppressed” and equate any nonconforming ideas with “hate speech.” Rather than being overjoyed at matriculating at some of the best institutions of higher learning in the world, they see themselves as victims. They imagine themselves as casualties of “hate,” “bigotry,” and “oppression.” Ms. Mac Donald gives powerful examples of these “victimized” students responding by verbally attacking and seeking to shame allegedly wrongheaded faculty and administrators at Yale, Pomona, Berkeley, the University of Missouri, Emory, and Columbia.

In most case, the administration and faculty end up effusively praising the students for their passion and showing solidarity with them. In fact, it is often the younger faculty who encourage this kind of behavior in their students.

Students who see themselves as victims are constantly on the lookout for micro-aggressions. Micro-aggressions are verbal or behavioral indignities that allegedly convey hostile or prejudicial insults towards a person or a group. These so-called micro-aggressions are endemic on campus, which is why students need “safe spaces” so they will not encounter ideas or language which contradict their world view. Examples of micro-aggressions that Mac Donald relates are:  “America is the land of opportunity”; and “Anyone can get ahead if they work hard enough.”

There are also several sad chapters on affirmative action at prestigious colleges and universities. It would take too long to recount all the examples that Ms. Mac Donald cites to show how affirmative action usually results in accomplishing the polar opposite of what it is intended to achieve. She writes that a study showed that Duke admitted black students with combined SATs on average of 1275, while whites scored on average 1416 and Asians 1457. This study showed that more than 76% of black male freshmen at Duke initially intended to major in the hard sciences and economics, but by the time they graduated, two-thirds of these students had switched to the humanities in the course of their studies, dropping their science majors. At the same time, only 8% of white males did so. This occurred not because of the “racist” classroom climate and not because black students were not cut out for quantitative studies, but instead because they were not academically prepared for the rigorous hard science courses. Thus, granting racial preferences to students often damaged the self-esteem and self-image of students that Duke had intended to help.

The Diversity Delusion is an eye-opening and powerful account of how and why the Academy has gone off the rails in the last decades. And the book is not an uninformed screed. It is meticulously researched with detailed footnotes. Ms. Mac Donald deserves our thanks and admiration for taking on these most divisive topics of the current ideological civil war raging in our country, not least in our colleges and universities. She has great physical and moral courage, and our land would be a better place if the faculties and administrations of our great education institutions would emulate her willingness to stand up against the politically correct tides of the day.


Robert H. Bradley is Chairman of Bradley, Foster & Sargent Inc., a $3.97 billion wealth management firm that has offices in Hartford, Connecticut and Wellesley, Massachusetts. Read other articles by him here.