Corporate America cannot adopt “diversity” policies fast enough. Passing by a Starbucks recently I saw a poster in their window that epitomized the new order:
“You’ll notice it the moment you walk into one of our coffeehouses—the partners who work here are a diverse group of people who reflect the local community. We offer a welcoming environment that embraces individual differences and encourages mutual respect. If this appeals to you … let’s chat.”
To hear them tell it, they are selling cups of diversity, not cups of coffee. And, with the changing American landscape, one can easily understand why. Frightened, nay, cowed into submission, companies are eagerly proclaiming their diversity credentials lest they be blacklisted in the manner of Chick-fil-A and its CEO, Dan Cathy.
But this raises an obvious question: what does diversity in this context even mean? “Embracing individual differences”? “Mutual respect”? Apparently not if Cathy’s experience is any indicator. He has received precious little of either since he voiced his conviction that a traditional view of marriage is the best one. He is a bigot, we are told. But can’t we just as easily say that the gay lobby is bigoted against Dan Cathy’s (and much of America’s) view of marriage? Diversity, it seems, is only embraced and respected if it adheres to the politically correct way of things.
Take for example the “diversity workshop” I attended a few years ago. The meeting began like this: “How many African-Americans do we have here? Please stand. Let’s celebrate them! How many Caucasians? Any Asians? Let’s celebrate them, too!”
However contrived it may have been, it was harmless enough and seemed well intentioned. But they continued, listing almost every conceivable religion, philosophy, and lifestyle: “Any homosexuals? Any who are transgender? Let’s celebrate them!”
After what seemed like an eternity, we were divided up into small groups where we were to discuss what diversity meant to us.
This was a mistake.
When it came my turn to speak, I said, “Diversity has never made any civilization great. Civilizations are made great by their ability to overcome their differences and find commonality.”
There was a collective gasp and looks of horror hung uneasily on the faces of my workshop counterparts. One could imagine them thinking: Is he allowed to say that? Doesn’t he know that this is a diversity workshop?
When one fellow challenged the political correctness of my comments, I told him that I was adding diversity of opinion to our group. This seemed to throw him into a quandary. He said nothing further.
Another said that he, too, disagreed with me. “Wasn’t it diversity that built America?” he argued.
“No,” I countered. “It was not. Americans were able to say, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident.’ Look at your money: ‘E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One.’ What truths do we hold to be self-evidential now? Diversity for diversity sake?”
The conversation was continued and I don’t know how many in our group were persuaded by what I had to say, but this much was obvious: my diversity of opinion was not “celebrated” by several in the group. Diversity as a philosophy means that one cannot take too strong a position on anything outside of diversity itself.
To be clear, I am not saying that diversity is necessarily a bad thing. It can be a good thing. But it must have a unifying principle. Without it, diversity, by its very nature, divides us. If one is thinking of building a house, for instance, a diversity of professional skills is needed: architects, masons, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, landscapers, roofers, etc. While they serve different functions, they work toward a common end.
This is the Apostle Paul’s point in I Corinthians 12 where he offers a biblical view of diversity: many members, yes, but only one body, and it belonging to Jesus Christ. He was addressing the issue of spiritual gifts, and, noting their various functions, emphasized that they are “for the common good” and under the Lordship of Christ.
I have often wondered what the folks at the diversity workshop might have done if, during the celebration of all that was different, I had said that I was a cannibal or that my name was Jerry Sandusky and I am sexually attracted to little boys? And what if I were to apply at the coffee shop and say that I am a socialist who neither believed in gain nor in private property, but in the free and equal distribution of their coffee? Would they ‘celebrate’ that sort of diversity? I imagine not. But if diversity itself was to be their guiding light, on what basis could they logically condemn anything?
Diversity, like so many other words in the English language—truth, tolerance, marriage, family, morality—has been redefined and charged with political meaning. In its current manifestation, it has nothing whatsoever to do with actual diversity; on the contrary, it means slavish conformity to the new orthodoxy where the only unifying principles are those established by the Cultural Left—and they can change as rapidly as the Starbucks menu. That means free speech is only free if what you say reflects the current fashion and that anyone can be bullied into submission at any time.
Diversity is the new McCarthyism.