The Magazine

Dartmouth Does Diversity

A bad idea whose time has come . . . again and again and again.

Dec 2, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 12 • By HEATHER MAC DONALD
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As for being regarded as a possible beneficiary of affirmative action, that is the poisonous price of affirmative action itself. Colleges tell the world that without diversity admissions, they would be virtually all white and Asian. Yet diversity deans, as well as many minority students, claim that it is racism, not double admissions standards, that often leads white students to presume that their minority peers have benefited from those double standards. Are there highly qualified black students who would have been admitted under a colorblind system? Of course. But their achievement is tainted by the stigma of affirmative action.

And it is in fact the taboo on acknowledging the effects of affirmative action that is the fourth standard topos of diversity propaganda. To the extent that racial tension exists on campus, it is because of unequal admissions and academic standards. But that is the one thing that will never be mentioned in an article on campus race relations, including in the Times article.

A bigot could not have engineered a better policy for segregating the races than admitting one race with lower academic skills than the other. The alleged "beneficiaries" of that policy usually start blaming the institution for their feelings of inadequacy and retreat behind a defensive wall. Meanwhile, students admitted under competitive admissions standards see their minority peers not performing as well but sometimes getting special treatment. The administration will then chalk up any resulting tensions to white racism and order up more sensitivity training.

Such a system has one purpose only: to stoke the egos of college administrators and faculty with the fuel of moral righteousness. Architects of academic double standards believe that their liberal paternalism is all that stands between abused minorities and a racist society. As for the recipients of that paternalism, nothing could be crueler.

What desperate fear led the Times to run "Colleges Find Diversity Is Not Just Numbers" on the front page? The paper could have performed a great public service by exploring the consequences of academic double standards. Instead, its recycling of diversity pablum suggests a worry that difference ideology may be losing its imperium.

Equally bizarre has been the Times's frenzied daily coverage of the fact that Augusta National Golf Club, host of the Masters Tournament, is all male, as it has been throughout its history. At a time when more women than men attend college, when every profession is not just open to women, but usually aggressively courting them, when the biggest problem for the Times's female readers is how to balance the demands of the executive track with family responsibilities, the Times would have us believe that a 300-member golf club in Georgia is a horrific impediment to women's equality.

America's "rights" struggles have come to this: Elite private colleges that spend mightily to persuade black students to attend them are criticized as not caring enough about minorities, while women's groups rally frantically for the "right" to sit in the members-only grill room at an exclusive golf club.

Osama bin Laden and his thugs don't care a whit whether they kill black or white Americans, male or female; they see America as one unified force for evil that must be destroyed. Obviously they're wrong: According to the New York Times, only some of us are evil, and you know who you are.

Heather Mac Donald writes for City Journal. Her forthcoming book is: "Are Cops Racist? How the War Against the Police Harms Black Americans" (Ivan R. Dee).