Toward the end of a recent webinar from the National Association of Scholars, “The Anatomy of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Takeover,” participant Joel Gardner—attorney, board member at the University of Virginia, and member of the UVA Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry—reported moments of utter amazement that he experienced in discussing the effects of the DEI regime on campus. He noted to senior administrators that under the new dispensation, individuals from some groups—white men, for example, or fundamentalist Christians—are being “marginalized,” to use the current jargon. The response was, that’s o.k., other groups were marginalized in the past, different groups are marginalized today. Evidently this was to be seen as a form of justice, perhaps of the biblical kind, in compensation for the “sins of the fathers” (a policy, incidentally, later rescinded by God in the Old Testament). Gardner was stunned in more than one conversation to find that “people running major universities actually believe that.” He insists on the contrary that considerations of individual merit and content of character must be our criteria for judgment, not group grievance and identification.
I have had similar experiences in email discussions and in person and was equally startled to find academics and professionals who have accepted that white men, especially, deserve their negative treatment under affirmative action today, since white men of the past had, in this telling, enjoyed special advantages. Furthermore, since white men now continue in so many prestigious areas where they are still “overrepresented,” discrimination against them, even those of them born decades after the age of segregation, is justified. As one participant said in so many words, it may go too far sometimes, but I’m not going to cry over it. Notice that the official rationale for “diversity” as set forth in the lamentable series of Supreme Court decisions that have blighted higher education in our time—that diversity enriches the educational experience—is completely forgotten by our latter-day Mesdames Defarge.
Would anyone ever have expected such a swift undoing of bedrock American principles based on equality of individuals before the law to disappear among educated, thinking people in a generation or two? Instead of equality, which properly means political and civic equality before the law to be enjoyed by individuals, we now have “equity,” the segmentation of the entire population into groups, or “communities,” to use the jargon word, and the demand for proportional representation of each group in all desirable areas. Aside from the artificiality of this group segmentation, detailed by Mike Gonzalez in The Plot to Change America: How Identity Politics is Dividing the Land of the Free (2020), this notion of justice demands that all “groups” should not only be proportionally represented in all desirable areas, but would have been so in the past, sans discrimination, thus supposedly justifying compensatory preferences now. (In the galloping progressivism of today, there is already a push to go beyond proportionality and to diminish white men even further, but let us stay on point.) A movement that began with the “promissory note” implied in the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” has turned into a mortgage impossible ever to pay off.