Thursday, September 16, 2004

Diversity and Divisiveness

Liberals emphasize the value of diversity, and with some justification. Many types of diversity are good. One thinks of culinary diversity, musical diversity, artistic diversity generally. Biodiversity is good, and so is a diversity of opinions especially insofar as such diversity makes possible a robustly competitive market-place of ideas wherein the best rise to the top. A diversity of testable hypotheses is conducive to scientific progress. And so on. But no reasonable person values diversity as such. A maximally diverse neighborhood would include pimps, whores, nuns, drug addicts, Islamo-headchoppers, Hell’s Angels, priests both pedophile and pure, Sufi mystics, bank clerks, insurance salesmen, people who care for their property, people who are big on deferred maintenance ... You get the point. Only some sorts of diversity are valuable. Diversity worth having presupposes a principle of unity that controls the diversity. Diversity must be checked and balanced by the competing value of unity, a value with an equal claim on our respect.

For example, one may value a district which is home to a diversity of restaurants (Turkish, Thai, French. . .), but only if they are all good restaurants. A diversity which includes ptomaine joints, greasy spoons, and high-end establishments is not the sort of diversity one values. Or one may value a philosophy department in which a diversity of courses are on offer, but not one in which the diversity extends to the competence levels of the instructors or the preparedness levels of the students. One wants excellent instruction on a diversity of topics – but that is just to say that the value of diversity is kept in check by the competing value of unity: the instructors are precisely not diverse in respect of their excellence.

Diversity unchecked by the competing value of unity leads to divisiveness. For this reason, one ought not ‘celebrate diversity’ unless on is also willing to ‘celebrate unity.’ And this is precisely what liberals and leftists cannot, or will not, comprehend. They unreasonably emphasize diversity at the expense of unity.

Compare the unreasonable overemphasis on diversity with the unreasonable overemphasis on liberty. There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth of late in liberal enclaves over the evil John Ashcroft’s assault on our civil liberties. Liberals make the same mistake here that they make in the case of diversity: they fail to appreciate that liberty and security are competing values each of which requires the other to have the value it has. See my post Liberty and Security. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

If you have followed me this far, then take action. Support English as the official language of the USA and oppose the deleterious idiocy of bilingual education. Celebrate unity and the conditions of its flourishing all the while respecting the competing value of diversity.