Many of you have no doubt heard about Drexel professor George Ciccariello-Maher‘s December tweet, “All I want for Christmas is white genocide.” Since then, I myself have received some hateful, threatening email, I guess because my address ends with drexel.edu. Groups sending such emails aren’t too selective.
The messages attack “diversity.” Ciccariello-Maher’s said his tweet attempted to satirize white supremacist claims about “diversity” and “white genocide.” Here’s a snip from one of those nasty emails I received, just last week: “Diversity is a code word for White Genocide… ‘Diversity’ means chasing down Whites.” You can fill in the rest.
Bigots paint diversity as a weakening.
One of my key points of pride in America is its diversity, and I don’t understand how the concept got hijacked to mean only a touchy-feely, holdin’-hand idea. I don’t mind those connotations, but diversity also can mean the evolving, practical collective trajectory toward greater strength. Straight up, in global competition, how can anybody beat the U.S. as long as we collectively allow new influxes of people and attempt, as best as flawed human structures can, to maximize the talents and abilities of those people?
The U.S. is imperfect, and I know it’s taken a while to get here, but when you peep around, historically and internationally, I think we’re closest to getting it right.
New ideas. New people. New approaches. Avoiding the stultification of similarity, of inbredness. These newly emerged sieg heilers ignore that that 1930s worst-leader-in-world-history failed miserably partly because he alienated and then outright murdered some the best minds in his country.
Like many, I found 2016 a confusing year, but one particularly bewildering contrast was between the election rhetoric and the Olympics. Let me make a careful point here. Remember, the U.S. medal count nearly doubled the total of the next two countries. During the opening and closing ceremonies, I was astounded by how diverse the U.S. team was. Using my two darn ocular organs that seem to cause us so much social trouble, I could not help but notice that for most teams, you could reasonably surmise, “Oh, those people are all X nationality or those people are all Y nationality.” But the U.S. team represented this extraordinary mix of human beings. When you put them all together, you got powerhouse.
Yeah, it’s just sports. But it exemplifies how when a diverse array of human bodies and brains, sweat and thought, come together to confront big problems — bam!
The U.S. has battled its past. Slavery. Women’s suffrage. Spikes of immigrant hate. But when we push forward and reveal the faces of our history – it’s an incredible tapestry.
In my many conversations lately about these topics, I try to re-frame diversity as not just liberal pudding, and I try to offer it as something different: The key to societal success in a functioning, logistical way.
No less a U.S. historical luminary than James Madison saw diversity’s value, puzzling through it while comparing a republican vs. democratic government in the Federalist Papers:
The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be remarked that, where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.
Diversity. I think the most anti-American thing you can do is be against it. That would be a hell of a movement.
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