Briefly, On Diversity and Tucker Carlson’s Bastardizing of the Term

Andrew Donaldson

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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  1. I’ve watched proudly as my children take water to the small business owners who help with our yard and house care, not just to be nice and take them a drink but because they want to show off some new phrase they learned in their language

    This sentence has so much Good in it.
    Thank you for this.Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    ” nobody made “diversity (is) our strength” the “new national motto,” as you put it.”

    Really? I hear that a lot….on the news, as a push back for limiting immigration, for many other things. Hell, my own companies corporate “aspirations” talk endlessly about that as a core goal and a core strength. I bet you see it in classrooms too.

    You’d think after a few thousand years of human behavior we’d have learned the tribalness of the human animal.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Damon says:

      It certainly functions as a motto for about half of our population. Carlson taking a knee when someone says “diversity is our strength” generates the same reaction from one side as Kaepernick taking a knee during the anthem for the other side.Report

    • Andrew Donaldson Andrew Donaldson in reply to Damon says:

      It is true it’s used a lot, but he is trying to universally apply the particular phrasing as a funnel to direct everything to his specific point of view, whereas most of those people are seeking diversity to broaden their, and their organizations, viewpointsReport

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        Are you sure that’s what he’s doing? Are you sure that’s what other people are doing?Report

          • Avatar Pinky in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            To quote Ben Shapiro,

            “Racial diversity doesn’t mean anything. Decency means something. Diversity isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t a good thing unless the people who are racially diverse are decent. Diversity isn’t a bad thing unless the people who are racially diverse are indecent. It’s not a difficult thing; diversity isn’t our strength. Decency is our strength.”

            A decent society is one with generally well-meaning people cooperating under a generally just system of laws. If diversity leads to something like the UK, great. If it leads to something like Yugoslavia, it was a bad idea. And there’s reason to suspect that diversity does more harm than good. See Robert Putman’s “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-First Century”.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Damon says:

      ” nobody made “diversity (is) our strength” the “new national motto,” as you put it.”

      Come the revolution, something to that effect will be printed on our money.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Damon says:

      No need to double post.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Damon says:

      It’s more the Democratic Party’s national motto. And with that its not really a deep mystery that Republican-leaning commentary is going to exaggerate, ridicule and take things out of context, just like Democratic-leaning commentary.Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Damon says:

      Well, I think we know quite a bit about the tribal nature of humanity. For instance, I just read a really good book that went into it quite a bit, among other things.

      And we talk up diversity because we think it leads to better outcomes than following our base instincts. And because it is in tension with our base instincts, it needs to be taught. I think it’s likely that values like sharing and non-violent solutions to property disputes are not in line with our base instincts, too. I’m sure you don’t take the position that human beings would be better off if they acted exactly as they did 10,000 years ago, right?

      So, diversity is work. It takes effort. That effort is worth it, even on an individual level. My life is so enriched by paying some attention to people who aren’t exactly like me.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Siegel says:

    Very well said. I would also point out that history’s greatest empires had lots of “diversity”. They didn’t call it that, but that’s what it was. The Roman Empire, our best historical parallel, included peoples from all over three continents. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that a contributor to the Empire’s collapse was that they lost the inability to incorporate new people’s into their Empire.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Siegel says:

      I think it is (almost) axiomatic that every great civilization drew its strength from being cosmopolitan and heterodox, incorporating new ideas and mutating as it grew.
      Part of it is the obvious value of trade, but trade depends on being able to handle diverse cultures.

      I see it everyday here in LA. Whenever I go to a meeting or a city agency, or intereact with anyone anywhere, I am engaging with people from wildly diverse backgrounds.

      Without the ability to be comfortable with different religions, races and nationalities you really can’t do business in the modern world.Report

    • Avatar Zac Black in reply to Mike Siegel says:

      They “lost the inability”? I assume you meant ability, but really the Romans were never exactly great at incorporating conquered peoples; even their fellow Italians weren’t made Roman citizens until the outbreak of one rebellion and the threat of another forced the Romans’ hand in the early 1st century BCE. I agree with the overall point you’re trying to make, I’d just say it’s important to note that this was a perpetual weakness of the Romans throughout the lifespan of both the Republic and the Empire.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Mike Siegel says:

      History’s great empires were diverse places but Zac Black gets it right that they did not approach this anything close to how diversity was handled by secular democracies. There was always a dominate culture or group and the belief was that everybody should assimilate towards the ruling group. This was true in the ancient empires like the Persian or the Romans or the modern ones like the British, French, and Russian Empires.Report

      • Avatar J_A in reply to LeeEsq says:

        This was true in the ancient empires like the Persian or the Romans or the modern ones like the British, French, and Russian Empires.

        I’m sorry, but I don’t see any desire for assimilation into the ruling class/group in either the British or the French Empires. Both were eminently run by and for the benefit of the British and French only (*). Both colonial powers understood that the bestowing of Western Civilization on the natives was payment and justification enough for the right to rule and exploit these benighted lands. As late as the 1930s this reasoning justified the invasion of Ethiopia by another Empire wanna-be

        (*) The Brits somehow accommodated the Indian princely houses into the ruling class, since, technically, they were sovereign in their states, subject to the British protectorate, but they did not extend this privilege much further into the Indian upper classes.Report

  4. Tucker’s asking whether diversity is a god thing in the military reminds of of those classic WWII movies where a WASP kid from Iowa, a WASP kid from Indiana, a WASP kid from Ohio, a WASP kid from Kansas, a WASP kid from Nebraska, a WASP kid from Missouri, a WASP kid from Oklahoma, a WASP kid from Pennsylvania, and the oddball, a WASP kid from Colorado, bond after somehow overcoming their differences.

    You know who washes out, though? The prep school trust fund kid from La Jolla.Report

    • Diversity in the military is a settled issue. It works. The service has so much data on it that it is not a seriously debatable point. Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        I love this. Not just your comment, but the idea that the military has thoroughly researched it, and found benefits. As a child of the 60’s, it’s interesting, to say the least, to find the military my partner. It’s a very different place than the military that Robert McNamara once ran.Report

        • Those that havent should really do some reading on how the US military reinvented itself after Vietnam. We take it for granted the level of professionalism and service but it was very much in doubt in the late 70s. A remarkable story that doesnt get told enough.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Doctor Jay says:

          The military is pretty tight on it too. Are you openly racists, sexist, etc., or acting in a way that suggests you hold those beliefs? Congrats, you just stagnated your career.

          You won’t get the boot, but you can kiss promotions goodbye, and any assignments that place you in a significant leadership position. You will be sidelined as much as legally possible until you either retire, or decline to re-enlist.Report

          • I was on desk duty my last year of active duty, and assigned as my units acting education and training officer which included implementing “dont ask dont tell” repeal. One of these days I’ll write up that experience but germaine to this discussion my chain of command (I reported directly to commander) made it clear anything derogatory or homophobic was going to be swiftly dealt with, and it was. Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

              Yep, once the military decides X is a good thing, there’s no being wishy washy about it.

              I’ve mentioned before that the BM1 on our sister boat was an open racist. He had 16 years in, and had been a 1st class (E-6) for a long time, because he’d been told, quite frankly, that he was not Chief material and shouldn’t even bother bucking for that promotion, because it wasn’t going to happen. Nor was he ever going to be put in charge of anything (he was the load master on the boat, which meant he was responsible for making sure the boat was loaded properly, but he had no supervisory authority over the junior crew). That was all he was ever going to be allowed to do. I was honestly surprised he made it to E6.Report

  5. nobody made “diversity (is) our strength” the “new national motto,”

    Umm, E Pluribus Unum?Report

  6. It’s not clear to me what exactly Carlson is asking, since I didn’t follow the link, but I assume it’s “is diversity a good thing?”

    I’ll say it is, but there are smarter ways and less smart ways of approaching it. There seems to be an approach to diversity that goes, “all we have to do is put people of different backgrounds together and people will learn to tolerate, welcome, and accept each other.” Maybe that’s a strawperson policy and maybe no one ever really says that, but it does seem implied in comments of several of my friends and acquaintances who say they seek “diverse” experiences or like a neighborhood or city because it’s so “diverse.” To the degree that by “diversity” is meant only a “put people together and good will happen,” then it’s potentially a bad thing or at least less of a good thing than its promoters claim.

    Or….what isn’t quite the same thing, “diversity” can become a preachy attitude, in which some people have to paper over their own differences of opinions or differences of background to accommodate some model. There are liberal’ish and conservative’ish (for lack of better terms) and everything in between versions of those models.

    None of that is the type of diversity I see Andrew talking about, though. As he points out in the OP, diversity in the military, in marriage, among neighbors, as learned from his father, and probably in the example of his children’s school (although the OP isn’t entirely clear on that point). diversity is something that has to be worked hard at and enforced through daily practice and probably daily reflection.Report

    • If we didn’t all value diversity of viewpoints, we’d be at some blog that’s an echo chamber for our tribe instead of here.Report

      • Yes, that’s mostly true. And where it’s not true, it’s not true because nothing is perfect.Report

        • Avatar Maribou in reply to gabriel conroy says:

          With the greatest respect to both of you, whose perspectives I appreciate a great deal almost all the time:

          I think our “diversity of viewpoints” here is quite limited, and in some ways – both good and bad ways, from my perspective – quite self-limiting, ie hostile to viewpoints that fall outside our fairly limited range of acceptability. I find that comforting when those viewpoints are unacceptable to me, and alienating when those viewpoints are ones I share, or ones I find both valuable and otherwise lacking from our conversations.

          But the idea that as a group / community we are *especially* welcoming of viewpoints that don’t belong to our tribe is one I’ve never believed. Our tribe is pretty odd, diverse, quirky, open-minded, etc, but it *is* a tribe, nonetheless. And we don’t make much room – let alone hold much space or show much support – for people who want different things than we-the-collective want from a discussion, no matter how engaged they may be with the OPs.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to gabriel conroy says:

      The OP’s sense of “diversity” is idiosyncratic. We have the concept of diversity in the Bakke decision, which set forth the limited condition in which race categories could survive Constitutional restraints on race discrimination. We have diversity visas which discriminates on the basis of country of birth. We have diversity training which is about legal defenses against civil rights actions (and thus the enumerated protected classes of race, gender, etc.) And we have diversity education mandates, mine are explicitly premised on the predicted emergence of a non-white majority.

      I believe tolerance is a personal and civic virtue, not diversity. The problem with tolerance is that it requires a lot of a person.Report

      • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to PD Shaw says:

        I hadn’t thought about whether the OP’s definition is idiosyncratic or not. I do think Andrew touches on common-sense notions of what diversity is or what diversity is imagined (at its best) to achieve.

        I do agree that diversity has the other meanings you ascribe to it, especially on-the-job “diversity training,” which to my mind operates more like a risk management ploy o a way not to get sued. In that way, it kind of works like ethics training.

        I believe that most people would agree that it’s tolerance (or acceptance, which perhaps isn’t exactly the same thing?) is the real virtue. A related claim, one that I think we (as in, I and other people) disagree about, is whether diversity makes tolerance easier or at least more likely. I’m not sure it does. I do agree, though, that we need to define very precisely what we mean by “diversity” before we can understand if it’s a good thing.

        Sorry to be rambling so much…..Report

      • Avatar Maribou in reply to PD Shaw says:

        Perhaps diversity is a prerequisite environment for meaningful tolerance or acceptance to occur?

        If everyone were homogenous (or homogeneity were artificially imposed), there’d be nothing to tolerate/accept.

        (Also it’s not really an idiosyncratic definition, as it is one that fits my best, most honest understanding of the term as well. So at worst it’s a duosyncratic definition 😉 ).Report