Diversity is Not a Strength

Few mindless slogans have done more damage across our society than, “Diversity is a strength.”

This dumb slogan is the underpinning for every bad idea from affirmative action to DEI to multiculturalism to illegal immigration. It also runs directly counter to what used to be America’s motto, “E Pluribus Unum.” That means “out of many, one” in Latin. That was first used in 1792 and if you look at any bill you have in your pocket, you will still see it there.

This was also something people in our society used to understand almost intuitively. When people used to talk about America being a “melting pot,” they meant exactly this. We’d bring in mutts from all over the world, they’d adopt America’s culture and ideals, and they’d fit right in and flourish.

This worked out fairly well with immigrants to America for quite a while for several reasons. The first was that most of them were European, so the beginning amount of “diversity,” was relatively low. There’s a world of difference between a white Catholic immigrant from Ireland and a white Muslim immigrant from Afghanistan for instance. The level of culture shock with one is small and with the other one, it’s enormous.

Speaking of small, America kept immigration to a minimum for a long, long time because we quite correctly feared bringing in more immigrants than we could properly assimilate. We didn’t want diversity and multiculturalism, we only wanted as many people at once as we believed our culture could fully absorb.

In other words, Americans didn’t used to believe “diversity is a strength” – and they were right.

Diversity is not a strength. It’s a weakness that takes a lot of effort, conscious work, and cultural strength to overcome.

Whether you’re talking about a national culture, a corporate culture, or the localized culture of a club, forum, or friend group, you want people who are going to fit in, not people who are going to create friction.

You don’t want people in America waving Mexican flags and cheering for Mexico in soccer matches against the US. If you’re a small start-up and everyone’s working 70 hours per week trying to ship a product, you don’t want people who show up an hour late, leave an hour early, and want to shift everyone’s focus from shipping the product to putting rainbows on the company website. If you and your friends are all health nuts who are constantly in the gym, running laps and stretching, you’re probably not going to get along with someone who thinks working out is bad for you because they believe in body positivity.

You certainly could make at least some kind of case for the diversity of ideas, but even that’s of limited use in most cases. Certainly, you could come up with times when it was a good idea to have people around who “zig” when everyone else “zags” to give different perspectives and point out things everyone else may not have considered, but how many of those do you need? One or two may be fine. If you have ten, you will probably end up with leaks, sabotage, and festering discontent. Furthermore, this is almost never what people actually mean by “diversity” in the real world.

In fact, diversity usually centers around race and gender today. “Hey, where are the women generals?” “Don’t we need a trans ‘woman’ front and center in the Biden administration to show our support for them?” “We don’t have enough black surgeons and pilots. Set up a quota and start pushing them through.”

This type of diversity is disastrous all the way around and not just because it separates everyone into little groups and pits them against each other.

In a merit-based system, you know the people that are there earned their spots. In a DEI-based system, you know many of the people there didn’t earn their spots. After all, if they were good enough, they could have made it under a merit-based system and they wouldn’t have needed DEI to be hired. In the airy-fairy world of academia, this may not matter all that much. When you’re talking about things like the military, surgeons, and pilots, if competence is sacrificed on the altar of diversity, people can die. 

Additionally, just to add insult to injury, competent minorities who make it in a system that has DEI in place are almost universally thought of as “Affirmative Action hires” who didn’t earn their spots. The moment DEI is put in place, the accomplishments of every minority under that system legitimately come into question.

We could go on and on about the reduced performance and endless strife an emphasis on diversity creates, but here’s a more relevant question.

Why not just focus on merit?

What is the downside?

If it’s, “If we only hire based on merit, not ‘enough’ minorities, gender confused people or women will ‘make it,” then that begs a second question.

If that’s the case, why isn’t the focus on helping them become good enough to earn a spot in a merit-based system instead of throwing out the idea of a merit-based system?

There is an answer to that question. Several, actually.

Helping people improve is hard work that takes a long time, and it often has uncertain results. Sometimes people have limits. For example, women are never going to be as physically strong or naturally aggressive as men. Additionally, many people, particularly in our victim-oriented culture, resent the idea that they need to improve. To them, the truth is an insult because they can’t get over the idea that they’re not good enough as they are right now.

Keep in mind, we live in a culture where many people with such negligible skills that they can only get a minimum wage job believe that the solution to that problem isn’t to improve their skills, it’s to get the government to force businesses to raise the minimum wage.

If you hold everyone to the same standard, not everyone is going to meet that standard – and the honest truth is, that’s okay. Not everyone is tall enough to be an NBA basketball player or has enough of a gift for dry math to be an accountant.

For the people who do have the ability, the last thing they need is to be given an opportunity they don’t deserve because of “diversity.” They need motivation to get better, they need help to improve, and they need the truth instead of being rewarded for mediocrity under the guise of “diversity.”

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