My Turn, Bruce LaRue: On diversity
We Americans share a planet. We comprise a multitude of different races, ethnicities, religions, preferences and self-identities. Not only do we look different, we speak, dress, worship and eat differently. A gourmand could dine on country ham, grits and a biscuit for breakfast, then fly to another part of the world, landing just in time for an early evening repast featuring eyeballs or monkey brains. Sweet.
America has been called a melting pot, but different metals melt at different temperatures, and some metals do not blend well together. Typically, the goal is to combine metals that produce a strong alloy.
A striped shirt worn with checkered slacks and argyle socks screams diversity, but my wife will not let me leave the house clad in such garb. Why? Because according to widely accepted social and cultural standards, the diverse patterns clash.
Pressing random piano keys simultaneously will usually result in a most dissonant racket, unpleasant even to those without an ear for music. The notes are diverse, but disharmonious, resulting in tonal chaos.
Many progressives have become so obsessed with diversity for the sake of diversity that we risk becoming a cultural Tower of Babel. We have traded the general store of traditional Americanism for a bill of goods called diversity.
Not so long ago we were assured that we are all the same on the inside, and any differences in packaging should go unnoticed if we are to move forward as a society. Then, we were beseeched, gently at first, to tolerate diversity. With that foot firmly positioned in the door, the multi-culture police then insisted we embrace diversity. Now, they expect us to celebrate differences that we are not supposed to notice, demanding that we rejoice over that which has rent us asunder without discussion or debate.
Like most reasonable people, I seek social harmony. Harmony is achieved not by several voices or instruments producing the exact same sound; it takes different tones to create harmony, but it is critical that they blend and work well together.
There is no longer a distinct, American culture, a blend of blue-collar, white-collar, urban, rural, laborers, artists, thinkers, doers and visionaries all pulling the wagon in the same general direction toward peace and prosperity. In its place is a multi-cultural dystopia in which the wagon is periodically overturned and set afire.
In recent years there have been books, articles, columns, and letters to the editor from people across the political spectrum bemoaning a lack of unity in these United States. While I believe many are sincere and well-meaning, experience tells me that in many cases a call for unity means “We don’t really expect a solution, nor do we want one. We need social discord, otherwise we will have to get real jobs instead of being paid to stir stuff,” or, “Give us what we demand or we will continue to make life difficult for you.” By allowing this particularly destructive form of cultural extortion to continue unchecked, we should not be surprised when it metastasizes in the form of “no-go” zones and a petulant refusal to allow certain speakers, invited by the university, to present their points of view. So, diversity is selective and free speech is conditional; got it.
Most of us, conservatives and liberals, have no desire to squelch our ideological counterparts. Why? Because we are confident enough in the strength of our positions that we are not afraid of discussion or debate. Only they who are fearful that their opponents have truth, logic, and reason on their side feel a need to silence them by any means necessary, and violent protest is quicker and easier than a well thought-out op-ed piece (and it pays better).
The diversity movement is doomed to a fate similar to that of other social movements: the radical extremist elements snatch the baton from the hand of the righting-of-actual-wrongs faction, reducing the overall acceptability, and as a result, efficacy, of the movement.
Again, I am not opposed to diversity, but it should be offered, as items on a menu or radio stations, not federally mandated, and certainly not guilted upon anyone, rejection of which carries the penalty of being labeled some kind of -ist. While my taste in music is somewhat eclectic, I dislike opera, rap and country, and it should not be demanded of me that I not only listen to those genres, but embrace them, or risk exile to some right-wing tonist colony. I am not a picky eater, but I am not going to eat eyeballs or monkey brains. Does that make me a hate-filled foodist? Visual arts? Oh, don’t even get me started.
Radical diversitistas seem to want a world in which we vociferously call attention to our differences. Perhaps a better world is one in which we no longer notice them.
Bruce LaRue lives in Mount Ulla.