A few years ago Christian Research Journal published one of my essays titled, “In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit of Diversity: Multiculturalism Goes to College.” The form of the essay on-line does not include a crucial sidebar which I post below the following introduction.
I write this entry and post the sidebar below because I was reminded of its significance during a recent conversation with a fellow educator concerning misconceptions regarding “diversity.”
“Diversity” is a noun that once had a basic meaning: “the fact or quality of being diverse; different.” The word, of course, properly refers to the factual existence of real differences that occurs naturally throughout all creation, including among humans. However, throughout the past thirty years the word has been deliberately exploited by politicians, political activists, activist educators, journalists, religious and church leaders, and many others as they have imposed their own meaning onto the term, “diversity,” to advance a political agenda by social engineering and manipulation which entails artificially imposing a forced diversity of peoples upon the societies wherever they hold power and influence.
Who could possibly oppose “diversity”? Right? Diversiphiles, as Peter Wood identifies them, trade upon the slipperiness that they have imposed onto the term “diversity.” If diversiphiles exploit to their advantage equivocating uses of "diversity," they do the same with opposition to their agenda. They do not offer thoughtful responses to dispassionate, well-reasoned, well-documented, and well-argued critiques of their diversity agenda, which is to manipulate artificially engineered “diversity.” Instead, they accuse critics who offer intelligent critical exposés of their agenda with a variety of false charges, even welcoming invidious accusations that critics of their agenda oppose the integration of diverse peoples and instead demand and preach some form of homogeneity even advocating racism and white supremacy.
The ingeniousness of the new coinage of the term “diversity” as shorthand for the diversiphiles’ agenda is that (1) it self-validates their new found virtue with a sense of moral superiority; (2) it provides a source of authority to suppress and to silence objections; and (3) it catches the ingenuous among us unawares by luring them to accept uncritically, to advance religiously, and to defend loyally the social engineering project. This social experient on human beings does not prize authentic diversity that already factually exists among humans but instead exploits people by treating them not as individual human beings but as members of a so-called “protected class” that requires preferential treatment in the form of “affirmative action” in order for people of those “protected classes” to find their way in life on a “level playing field.” It is just as Peter Wood so aptly observes.
Pursued as a social policy, diversity is a form of systematic injustice and it makes us accomplices to injustice. To treat people as objects, as though they are the residuum of their race, class, gender and other superficialities, and not as individuals who define themselves through their ideas and creative acts--that is injustice (Diversity: The Invention of a Concept, 47).
This political agenda that is being advanced powerfully allures with its speech code of virtuous-sounding political correctness. The agenda’s speech code surreptitiously infiltrates the lexicon of any religious belief system, and in the process it imperceptibly transmogrifies religious expressions and belief systems, including Christianity, to adjust to its values, virtues, and message. It seduces many to suppose that its suppression of ill-mannered speech with “political correctness” is of a piece with Christian virtue and compatible with the Christian gospel.
The issue at stake has never been and is not now whether we should welcome diverse peoples among us and embrace them as our equals, our peers, our friends, and our colleagues. Rather, the issue is on what principles we should do so. We should never welcome diverse peoples among us on the principles that diversocrats exploit, namely preferentialism and paternalism. For, anyone who advocates any form of paternalism or a policy of preferentialism for a so-called “protected class” is worthy of rebuke, for such a posture is contrary to a credible Christian profession. Why? It is because preferentialism is sin (James 2:9). Preferentialism demeans the human who is made in the image of God. The gospel of Jesus Christ obligates us to love and to kindness toward all regardless of differences, whether racial, social, or sexual.
At last, here is the promised sidebar.
Made in the Image and Likeness of God
Observant individuals may ask, “What are the dynamics that render members of a minority group in need of paternalistic assistance from the majority group?”
Shelby Steele astutely addresses this question in White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era (New York: Harper Collins, 2006). Steele incisively explains that advocates of multiculturalism (e.g., America’s whites, members of the majority group) endeavor by “affirmative action” to regain a sense of human dignity against a stigma of “white guilt” for slavery, for Jim Crow laws, for discrimination, and for racism. Steele demonstrates the seductive nature of “affirmative action.” It does not truly provide authentic assistance to minority individuals. Affirmative action puts recipients in a double bind. To receive the patronizing preferential favor one has to bow to paternalism and accept one’s inferiority and dependence upon members of the majority group. Affirmative action’s design is to provide a sense of redeemed humanity, of renewed virtue, and of restored dignity to members of the majority group who seek to purge themselves of “white guilt.” Its seductive power resides in the fact that while preferentially offering handouts based upon ethnicity or skin color it provides a sense of virtue. It is not virtue at all; it is paternalism and patronization. He writes:
So post sixties American liberalism preserves the old racist hierarchy of whites over blacks as virtue itself; and it grants all whites who identify with it a new superiority. In effect, it says you are morally superior to other whites and intellectually superior to blacks. The white liberal’s reward is this feeling that because he is heir to knowledge of the West, yet morally enlightened beyond the West’s former bigotry, he is really a ‘new man,’ a better man that the world has seen before” (White Guilt, 148).
Because dissociation is a claim of superiority, it generates a kind of collective narcissism—an irrational yet utterly certain belief in the moral superiority of post sixties, dissociational liberalism. In this liberalism one does not argue by logic or principle; one argues by dissociation. Only in dissociation are authority, legitimacy, and power available. This grounding in dissociation, with its assertion of moral superiority, is what gives today’s liberalism its narcissistic quality (151).
As Christians, it seems proper that we should go beyond this explanation, good as it is. Preferentialism is prejudice dressed up as Christian virtue. To redeem themselves from the stigma of America’s past, Christian advocates of “affirmative action” seek deliverance from “white guilt” through dissociation from racism. They embrace the seductive notion that to treat individuals of “minority groups” with preferentialism based upon ethnicity or skin color is both permissible and virtuous, if not godly and Christian, so long as preferentialism is positive (favors “affirmative action”) and not negative (advocates “prejudice” or “discrimination”). People who embrace this view fail to recognize that preferentially favoring individuals based upon ethnicity or skin color, though seemingly positive and godly, is simply another form of prejudice (James 2:1-13). Preferentially favoring individuals based on ethnicity or skin color is as sinful as prejudicially discriminating against individuals based on ethnicity or skin color because partiality, whether taking the form of paternalism or prejudice, looks to superficial human qualities as the basis for favorable or unfavorable action toward others (cf. 2 Cor. 5:13-21). Preferentialism, no less than discrimination, entails paternalistic dehumanization of individuals by treating them as members of an approved group rather than as individuals made in the image and likeness of God.
—A. B. Caneday