By Butch Porter
First, it will be important to note that diversity is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it has a tremendous amount of value in many areas. In our financial portfolios it secures wealth, in an electrical or information grid, it provides security and stability. The same is true in a community. Differing ideas, points of view, and varying perspectives on the world, keep a community from falling into stagnation and groupthink.
There is a reason why “diversity” in the modern zeitgeist has now been replaced with “diversity and inclusion.” We should be surprised that the new Leesburg Diversity Commission wasn’t called the “diversity and inclusion commission.” When one town council member had the audacity to appoint a white male to the commission, a fellow council member took it upon herself to lambast her colleague on Facebook for it. Why? Couldn’t a diversity of ideas on a commission include the ideas of a white male? Of course, but that’s not the purpose of the commission. The purpose of the commission is not to make sure the opinions and perspectives are diverse, but that everyone feels included in the cause of diversity, which is … well, that remains murky.
Case in point is the efforts of the “diversity and inclusion” hawks on college campuses these days. Nobody reading this actually believes that thousands of students across the country are protesting because they want a variety of points of view on their campus. They are protesting because they feel very strongly that there should be only one point of view allowed. This is not even a theory or up for debate. It is definitively the case according to the protestors themselves.
It seems to be a critical moment for the diversity movement. A website surfaced toward the end of last year called thedemands.org where grievance mongers from 75-plus universities listed all the ways in which they feel their institutions of higher learning should do more (spend more) on diversity training and inclusion seeking. They consider themselves a part of the Black Lives Matter movement, which for all intents and purposes is the modern day Students for a Democratic Society—the Weathermen reborn. This website I consider one of the more useful websites on the internet: as a handy list of all the universities where I will not be spending any of my hard-earned money. Ever.
On the other hand, the diversity hawks have been having a tough time for awhile. Mainly because in the 21st century, they have been put on the back burner by a much sexier movement: sustainability. Nothing beats sustainability, where every human is treated equally … as a blight and nuisance on the planet, an unwilling (but still guilty) participant in a plague on Mother Gaia’s landscape. It’s surprising that diversity could ever stand a chance beating up the modern privileged Westerner for not sufficiently including others in their civilization, when you have sustainability, which can indict the entire Western world for even existing in the first place. No contest. To make matters worse, sustainability has effectively commandeered diversity, inserting it neatly into the “social” or “cultural” corner of its quality-of-life matrix for acceptable human habitation. Obviously all minorities will feel more included if we have properly organized mixed use communities, “arts and culture” centers, and “income diversity” (with federal subsidies to assuage the inflated real estate prices, that the planners themselves inflated, by systematically eliminating housing choices), right?
So one would hope the diversiteers could embrace their moment and make whatever progress they can, especially for working-class minority citizens and business owners. If they don’t, they will find themselves dealing with even higher fuel and energy prices, while being used to pitch bike trails, dog parks, and decreased access to navigable roadways, bus stops, and any number of important services which provide communities with increased mobility and access to the widest geographic of job opportunities.
When they discover that they are not only being bamboozled by a faux environmental movement, but that these efforts are making it more expensive to live where they live, that the traffic is getting even worse, and that urban density—which many came here to escape—is indeed the preferred outcome of the planners, then they may come to the conclusion that these particular defenders of diversity (for the sake of sustainability) are anything but. These are protectors of a most myopic point of view. Their pitch has the veneer of something new and vibrant, which simply coats over something very stale and very familiar. Their abiding purpose is fitting all the diverse ideas, dreams, values, traditions, foibles and idiosyncrasies of disparate groups into something that really doesn’t exist, but the planners keep thinking they can create: their perfect little community made in the image of their liking.
That’s a lot of things, but it is not diverse. It is sameness. It is conformity. Those who think they are getting a variety of things are all getting the same thing: central planning. Pleasantville. Boring.
We should all stop falling for it, but especially those who believe in actual diversity.
Butch Porter is a Leesburg business owner and local commentator.