Thursday, September 16, 2004

Diversity: Useful or farcical?

I've been thinking a bit about diversity lately, and have come to the conclusion that diversity as it is enforced in our schools and companies is a farce.  We're trying to make sure there is a diverse population that mirrors our American society, but doing it by surface values, not by the things that make us diverse in the first place.

We enforce diversity by looking at:

  • skin colour
  • gender
  • religion
  • cultural elements
  • physical handicaps

But not by looking at:

  • ideologies
  • personal philosophies
  • structures of thought

We pay lip service to diversity, but don't actually provide for diverse populations.  The recent primary election in Washington should provide some backing for this.

In this election, for the first time in 70 years in Washington, people had to pick a party in the primary (former primaries were blanket primaries, meaning voters could vote for whoever they wanted to in any party - in other words, a baby general election).  Results from this primary were fairly consistent - Republicans and Democrats got 98-99% of the vote, and Libertarians got the remaining 1-2%.  These results were consistent whether it was a statewide race (governor, senator, etc) or local races (county reps and such), which helps to normalise the diverse population of the state and each individual political unit.

What does this show, you ask?  Well, there's one more piece of background info - this is the first election in Washington that the Libertarian party had major party status (i.e. they were called out on the primary ballot as a party - there were no Greens, Socialists, or other parties on the ballot).  For the first primary ever, Washingtonians had a third choice, a third way of looking at things, a third ideology to apply to the problems of the day.  And the diverse Washington population still followed the sheep mentality of voting Republican or Democrat by a 98-99% margin.  Even the fringe news stations in this area concentrated on R v. D races, not mentioning any Libertarian candidates or their races.  Debates leading up to the primary, and planned debates leading to the November election, excluded Libertarian candidates.

In other words, while Washington has a very diverse population in terms of nation of origin, creed, race, sex, religion, and physical handicaps, we're still a homogeneous pack of sheep, listening to the media focus on the big two parties and not thinking for ourselves.  In other words, where diversity really counts, we're not diverse - at least, we're not teaching people critical thinking, which helps lead to diverse ideas and ways of thinking.

One corollary to this - I heard last week that the head of the Aryan Nation passed away.  He lived in northern Idaho, and his death was celebrated by many.  My question is this: in a population committed to diversity (such as a university or a company), would his presence be welcome?  He does represent a different ideology than other people, and therefore would help increase the diversity of that population?  Your answer, of course, depends on whether you define diversity properly or politically correctly...

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