Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Celebrating Diversity

I make no secret of my disdain for the current PC fetish for skin-deep diversity. Like the Emperor’s new clothes, this diversity is often praised but always in the abstract. John Leo’s piece in the City Journal (H/T NRO) has alerted me to some new relevant research on the matter which would seem to be of particular interest today as the Senate argues over an immigration bill:

“Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, is very nervous about releasing his new research, and understandably so. His five-year study shows that immigration and ethnic diversity have a devastating short- and medium-term influence on the social capital, fabric of associations, trust, and neighborliness that create and sustain communities. He fears that his work on the surprisingly negative effects of diversity will become part of the immigration debate, even though he finds that in the long run, people do forge new communities and new ties.” Bowling With Our Own

Mr. Leo closes with an excellent observation that sums up the problem many of us have with immigration proposals in this day:

“Putnam is hopeful that eventually America will forge a new solidarity based on a “new, broader sense of we.” The problem is how to do that in an era of multiculturalism and disdain for assimilation.”

Full confession: this isn’t new; just new for me. Last fall, Mr. Putnam was “outed” in a Financial Times article:

“Professor Putnam told the Financial Times he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it “would have been irresponsible to publish without that”.

Not the kind of publicity sought by a staunch liberal like the Harvard professor. The NY Times even got in on the act a few weeks ago with a discussion of Mr. Putnam’s work: Idea Lab - Diversity:

I found this tidbit interesting:

“In some places, they already have: soldiers have more interracial friendships than civilians, Putnam’s research finds, and evangelical churches in the South show high rates of racial integration. “If you’re asking me if, in the long run, I’m optimistic,” Putnam says, “the answer is yes.”

On anybody’s list of institutions whose membership is most likely to be under-represented with liberals & progressives, I would think the military and Southern evangelical churches would be automatic pencil-ins. Yet it’s this kind of “walking the walk” – sans all the self-congratulatory diversity celebrations – that gives even a noted angst-ridden liberal like Robert Putnam cause for optimism.

Read for yourself Mr. Putnam’s latest paper: E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century. I suspect this will be getting even more attention in the days and months ahead.

Well stated and argued.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Preview on Feedage: maryland-conservatarian
Add to Windows Live iPing-it