Heather Mac Donald, The Diversity Delusion; How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture. St. Martin’s Press, 2018
What are we to make of today’s university culture where students may not be subjected to spoken or written words that make them feel uncomfortable, where diversity is achieved by abolishing objective standards, not just in the social sciences but in the STEM fields as well, and where the diversity bureaucracy is actively undermining the centuries-old mission of higher education. That is a big subject, but in The Diversity Delusion Heather Mac Donald breaks it down into its constituent parts and exposes the naked underbelly of the attack on Western Civilization that is taking place in our most esteemed universities and colleges.
Citing example after example, statistic after statistic, Mac Donald explains the origins of race and gender pandering and details its destructive impact, both on the production of knowledge and the preparation of young people for adulthood.
One is hard-pressed to select the most egregious example of this destructive environment. Is it preventing conservatives like Mac Donald from speaking to student groups? Is the destroying the reputations and careers of faculty who deviate from the new norm? Is the absurdity of rewarding claims of microaggression by privileged students at Yale, Brown, and Princeton with safe spaces, non-objective grading, and high-paying jobs as diversity counselors and administrators? Is it turning colleges into re-education centers for anyone who might honor color blindness, merit or hard work?
Not Just the Ivies
Mac Donald tells us the problem doesn’t just exist at the Ivies and on California campuses. It has spread to places like Evergreen State College in the state of Washington where a professor was physically attacked when he failed to obey students’ demand that white faculty cancel their classes at the bequest of minority students, and at Middlebury College in Vermont, where students physically assaulted a professor, giving her a concussion. Her “crime?” Having supported the invitation of a conservative to speak on campus.
Mac Donald tackles race and gender diversity pandering separately, then focuses on the bureaucratization of victimhood followed by an overview on the subversion of the mission of higher education.
Affirmative action seemed necessary and logical when it first instituted fifty years ago, but today it has grown into an industry that suppresses evidence of its failures and punishes businesses as well as colleges if they cannot find a sufficient number of qualified minority applicants for enrollment and faculty positions. The worst example of this might be the University of California system, which ignores the 1996 initiative passed by the state’s voters that bans race and gender preferences in government and education. California not only insists minorities (and women) be hired but refuses to accept objective measurements of candidates’ qualifications, all but asserting that minority status alone means the candidate is qualified for the job.
That is bad, but what makes matters worse is that minority students can ruin careers simply by claiming an instructor has used words or taught concepts that make them feel victimized. When any such accusation is levied, university administrators automatically treat the accused as guilty. Due process is flawed if practiced and when the accusations border on absurdity, as in the case of the professor who was censured for issuing t-shirts with his picture for a class softball game, the administration typically thanks the students for calling out the offender. The source of the professor’s aggression? His picture reminded someone that he was the author of a study that challenged the effectiveness of affirmative action. The idea of challenging a politically protected policy has become unacceptable in today’s university.
The damage being done by the fiction that American universities are dangerous places for minority students who must be protected even if it means certain authors cannot be read, certain subjects cannot be taught, and objective grading must be dispensed with, is uncalculable. Advocates for minority advancement ought to be challenging these excesses for they are damaging to minority students and to society as a whole.
Sex Toys and Victimhood
While minorities clamor for more representation, Mac Donald reports that a majority population in our colleges continues to claim victimhood at the expense of fact and reason. That group is women.
Spurred by an under-reported problem of sexual misconduct on some campuses thirty years ago, universities responded by manufacturing a campus rape crisis where the definition of rape is whatever each campus perceives it to be. In response to this “crisis,” bureaucracies have mushroomed resulting in dozens of high-paid positions with heavily-staffed rape crisis centers designed to serve an artificially-created population of victims.
Undermining the rape crisis claim is another bureaucrat-enriched activity on college campuses: support for unbridled sex. While “freshman counselors organize games of Sex Jeopardy and pass out tips for condom and dental dam use,” (p. 117) rape crisis counselors encourage women to report attempted and actual rapes even when the victims had been having consensual sex with the accused for months. While one part of the academic bureaucracy promotes a promiscuous hookup culture, another claims one in five women are subjected to rape or attempted rape during their college years.
Oddly, the proponents of doing more to protect women do not want rape cases to be handled by America’s criminal justice system. The reason for this might have something to do with the fact that few such cases gain convictions and many turn out to be frauds, such as the infamous Duke lacrosse gang-rape case, the University of Virginia Rolling Stone case, or Columbia University’s ‘mattress girl.’
Mac Donald reports that the campus rape crisis has spread into the workplace where ‘overly broad definitions of what constitutes sexual misconduct are now being legitimized,’ in the words of a female attorney who has dealt with these cases. Ironically, as Mac Donald points out “[w]estern culture is in fact the least patriarchal society in human history.” (p. 159) Echoing the bureaucratization on campus, the #MeToo movement has spawned a campaign to fill businesses with counseling staffs and to guarantee woman are given priority in hiring decisions without regard for qualifications.
The Ideology of Victimhood
The transformation of academia into centers for political indoctrination has been advanced by an ideology that justifies the institutionalization of their claims. Intersectionality is the theory that everything wrong in the world comes from an interconnected historical enemy headquartered in the U.S.––namely, white males and capitalism. This is the source of slavery and racism, of patriarchy and misogyny, and of climate change and exploitation of minorities and women.
That teaching young adults to think of themselves as victims is the opposite of what they need to learn seems lost to the bureaucrats whose jobs depend on their finding more and more examples of oppression. At institution after institution, diversity offices and counselors mushroom as salaries out-pace those paid tenured professors. Administrators join the chorus, advancing the thesis that their institutions have done much harm to women and minorities in the past and must make amends. Many, like Yale’s Peter Salovey, give in to any outrage outbreak with more money for diversity programs and mandatory diversity indoctrination.
As Mac Donald stresses, the mission of every academic institution ought to be the “transmission of knowledge, pure and simple.” There’s plenty of evidence that students arrive on college campuses ignorant of the fields of knowledge that underlay our civilization. Unfortunately, many leave in worse shape than when they entered, having been indoctrinated by faculty steeped in the “hermeneutics of suspicion”––the assumption that all language carries hidden meanings that either subvert or reinforce power structures.
Mac Donald challenges the assumption that transmitting knowledge once featured in Western Civilization courses is dangerous to minorities and women by quoting Frederick Douglas and W.E.B. Du Bois––two of the heroes of black liberation, who pay tribute to men like Aristotle and Shakespeare whose ideas inspired them and gave them the intellectual courage to state their piece.
Heather MacDonald’s study is so thorough and irrefutable that it cannot get fair treatment by the mainstream media. Don’t look for her book to be listed under the Washington Post’s 50 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year or to be reviewed by the New York Times. Yet, it should be required reading for members of Congress, the bureaucrats at all state and federal education departments, and students studying to become school administrators. It’s time to go back to doing what colleges and universities were created to do, which ironically will benefit minorities and women much more than coddling, indoctrination, and unmerited advancement.