Thursday, November 9, 2017

Diversity Run Amok

It’s bad enough that we don’t believe in science. Many of us don’t even believe in Charles Barkley. The science about microaggressions is clear. We—by that I mean those who make a living trying to engineer diversity—don’t believe it. But, how can such people ignore the wisdom of Charles Barkley.

For your edification, I requote Barkley’s words about the current effort to remove all confederate statuary from the nation’s public and private squares. One understands the rationale. Supposedly, the poor performance of many African-Americans, inside and outside of college classrooms, is the fault of the statues, and of other triggering objects.

Barkley said this:

You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to keep doing great things. I’m going to keep trying to make a difference, No. 1 in the black community because I’m black. But I’m also going to try to do good things in the world.

"I’m not going to waste my time screaming at a neo-Nazi who’s going to hate me no matter what. And I’m not going to waste my time worrying about these statues. I’ve always ignored them."

"I’m 54-years-old. I’ve never thought about those statues a day in my life. If you ask most black people, they haven’t thought a day in their lives about those stupid statues."

"What we as black people need to do is: we have to worry about getting our education," he said. "We need to stop killing each other. We need to try to find ways to have more economic opportunity. Those things are important and significant."

Anyone who can ignore the words of Charles Barkley will certainly ignore the scientific studies of Scott Lilienfeld, a professor at Emory University. From the Campus Reform (via Maggie’s Farm):

Emory University professor Scott Lilienfeld has failed to find evidence that microaggressions cause any harm to minorities, despite the claims advanced by many of the theory’s promoters.

Further, he argues that teaching microaggression theory can backfire, because it could cause minorities to “‘perceive’ slights even when they are not present.”

Lilienfeld concluded his investigation by calling for “a moratorium on microaggression training” after finding “no evidence that microaggressions are correlated with indicators of either prejudice or aggression” or that they can cause any “harm.”

Likewise, while many colleges aim to teach students and professors about unconscious biases in hopes of reducing the risk that someone may act acts in a prejudiced manner, the theory of unconscious bias has also come under sharp criticism.

Making people hyperconscious of race is not the best way to overcome racial division. Blaming a statue for your poor performance will not improve your performance. Besides, Lilienfeld notes, if minority students are told to become overly conscious of microaggressions they will be more likely to see them, even when they do not exist. The purge will then never end. Before you know it, someone will want to rid the nation of the National Anthem… because it is racist.

Anyway, the rage toward diversity, a mindless, ideologically driven effort to force the nation to fulfill someone’s idea of what a just society looks like, proceeds apace. Now, Stanford University is hiring a new administrator to monitor diversity efforts. Does it not strike anyone that universities have larded down their budgets with diversity bureaucrats because they keep admitting students for reasons of diversity, regardless of their scholastic aptitude and their ability to compete? This practice disadvantages the students who are chosen for such reasons and and stigmatizes anyone who seems to fall into the class of students who are admitted for diversity.

Anyway, Campus Reform reports the news from Stanford:

According to a recent job posting, Stanford Medicine hopes to hire a Manager of Inclusion and Culture Strategy to manage the school’s diversity and inclusion efforts, create a “cultural change ambassadors program,” and find ways to highlight diversity on campus.

The manager’s primary responsibility, though, will be to develop and execute training for “staff and faculty on unconscious bias, microaggressions, change management for diversity, and other diversity and inclusion leadership topics.”

It’s called taking bad policy and making it worse. 


Ares Olympus said...

Confederacy war memorials are not about "microaggressions". Microaggresions are actions by people that intentionally or unintentionally make other people feel back about themselves.

These memorials are physical objects that attempt to bring glory to a past that was shameful. It's easy enough to say that taking down confederacy memorials won't change the past, and won't change people's feelings about themselves in the present. But its not our job to prejudge whether anyone benefits by denouncing slavery of the past by taking down memorials. Its our job to judge whether those memorials are accurate and helpful reminders of the past.

If my grandfather murdered your grandfather, you may legitimately consider it insensitive of me to have a statue of my grandfather's exploits in my front yard. If your brother says "It doesn't bother me", that doesn't give me the right to denounce your sensitivity is wrong, and say only your brother's opinion matters, because it agrees with me.

trigger warning said...

Frankly, my dear, no one need give a damn about your sensitivity. Buy a teddy bear.

The tyranny of the thin-skinned is close enough to Hell to initiate a sulfur dioxide smog watch.

Ares Olympus said...

TW, Sure. But that attitude is also often equivalent to "being an asshole", a defense mechanism to stay in denial of your own sometimes unnecessary harm and disrespect to the world around you.

It's an empowering place of individual freedom if autonomy if your only goal, but you don't have anywhere to go from there. It's just a wall that says "Everything I don't care about at this moment is your problem".

Jonathan Haidt's summary about microaggressions is certainly excellent, seeing from the perspectives of Honor Culture, Dignity Culture, and Victimhood Culture.

Sam L. said...

Microaggressions are, by definition, one-millionth of an "aggression". Life ain't fair. Into each life some rain must fall. Get past it.

trigger warning said...

AO: "But that attitude is also often equivalent to "being an asshole", a defense mechanism to stay in denial of your own sometimes unnecessary harm and disrespect to the world around you. "

Thanks for the psychonalysis! :-D

"Fascination with the psychic - or the psychological - can be a dangerous sidetrack on any spiritual path.”
--- Starhawk

Ares Olympus said...

trigger warning said... Thanks for the psychoanalysis!

Certainly the reality of psychological projection does make things tricky, so anything I can imagine I see in someone else is also in me. Trying to understand what is behind others' potential asshole behavior seems preferable to quickly reacting with overt aggression, and it makes it easier to accept and work with the same qualities in myself.

I'd call this more a Jungian archetype/instinct approach than the Freudian drive/instinct approach, but in both cases moving from unconscious reaction to self-aware choice, which is the only place responsibility can really be expected. I think Starhawk and the wider Neopagan movement also look at things more from Jung.

trigger warning said...

"Trying to understand what is behind others' potential asshole behavior seems preferable to quickly reacting with overt aggression, and it makes it easier to accept and work with the same qualities in myself."

Your Mom must be very proud.