Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Inch-deep Diversity 

Where I grew up the cliche about the Missouri River was that it was a mile wide and an inch deep. In that campus diversity resembles the river in one of two ways: though it isn't very wide, it's only an inch deep. "Diversity" means almost exclusively skin color and country of origin. These are things of very limited human significance, and ironically precisely the things modern campuses say they want to render insignificant in human activities, but they make them the only things that are significant.

The irony isn't surprising. We've come to accept that those who demand diversity the most are least tolerant of any real diversity of opinion, thought or philosophy; those who demand "sensitivity" are the least sensitive to any who fall outside their domain; and those who demand tolerance are the least tolerant (My campus' slogan is "No Tolerance for Intolerance." Really).

Two forms of diversity which are excluded are conservative thought and philosophy -- academic, social, or political -- and religion. The best book to start with on modern academic attitudes on religion is still Stephan Carter's Culture of Disbelief. Though it is almost a decade old, Carter is still a good place to see how campuses tolerate religion (Christianity especially, but not exclusively) as long as adherent don't take them seriously -- we tolerate those who see "God as a hobby" to use Carter's phrase. But that is all, and a vast body of thought, opinion and human experience are ignored and suppressed in modern "inclusive, tolerant, diverse" campuses.

But, just as conservative thought ignored by the media found ways to cometo us through cable news and talk radio, the Internet and blogs, religious thought thrives as well. One source of both that has been valuable for me has been Townhall.com, which lists dozens of essays on a variety of topics from a corps of excellent essayists who would otherwise never, ever be apparent on campus. As a tiny sample, yesterday the essay on "The Intellectual Errors and Political Dangers of Multiculturalism" from the Claremont Institute was excellent. These folks are worth check out often.