'Diversity' or truth, pick one

The cult of diversity worship in academia came under withering assault this week from Anthony Kronman, a Yale law professor and former dean of the Yale Law School. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Kronman bravely wrote that the diversity dogma undermines excellence and the search for truth. Kronman’s essay is adapted from his forthcoming book, The Assault on American Excellence.

“That diversity should be a value seems beyond dispute,” Professor Kronman wrote. Stating the views of an old-fashioned liberal, he explained that:

“The existence on campus of a range of beliefs, values and experiences is essential to the spirit of inquiry and debate that lies at the heart of academic life. Who wants to go to a school where everyone thinks alike?”

In its modern usage, "diversity" means just the opposite. It means diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. “Diversity in this sense is not an academic value,” he added.

Kronman noted that identity-group diversity “encourages minority students, and eventually all students, to think that a departure from the beliefs and sentiments associated with their group is a violation of the terms on which they were admitted to the university. If students contribute to the good of diversity by expressing the racially, ethnically, or sexually defined views that members of their group are expected to share, then a repudiation or even critical scrutiny of these views threatens to upset the school’s entire educational program. It takes special nerve for an African-American student to defend inner-city policing or a gay student to support the baker who refuses to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.”

Indeed it does. Identity politics exists to foster groupthink. It is a product of Karl Marx’s intellectual heirs, particularly the Marxist theoretician Herbert Marcuse whose works became influential with the New Left in the 1960s.

According to author William S. Lind, in an important essay titled “The Scourge of Cultural Marxism”:

 “Marcuse argued that the revolution would not come from the working class but from a coalition of blacks, gays, feminist women, young people, etc., ‘sacred victim groups’ of political correctness.”

Cultural Marxist ideas now dominate college campuses across America.

Kronman concluded his Journal piece by noting that the greatest casualty of the diversity dogma “is the idea of truth itself, on which the whole of academic life depends.”

Kronman explained:

“Whatever else it may be, the truth is not democratic. We don’t decide what is true in mathematics or history or philosophy by a show of hands. The idea of truth assumes a distinction between what people believe it is and the truth itself. Socrates drove this point home in every conversation he had. It might be called the Socratic premise of all intellectual inquiry.”

Kronman's view assumes that the modern university has as its highest aim the pursuit of objective truth. But postmodernism, the prevailing view in academia, denies the existence of objective truth.  Once the search for universal or transcendent truth is dispensed with, we are left with “my truth” or “your truth.”

In the hands of the cultural Marxists, this rationale leads to the conclusion that truth is whatever benefits the designated oppressed victim groups. This is by design. Professor Kronman is correct that the pursuit of truth requires an end to identity politics on campus – but this requires that universities reject the twin dogmas of postmodernism and Cultural Marxism.

You can follow Nicholas J. Kaster on Twitter.

The cult of diversity worship in academia came under withering assault this week from Anthony Kronman, a Yale law professor and former dean of the Yale Law School. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Kronman bravely wrote that the diversity dogma undermines excellence and the search for truth. Kronman’s essay is adapted from his forthcoming book, The Assault on American Excellence.

“That diversity should be a value seems beyond dispute,” Professor Kronman wrote. Stating the views of an old-fashioned liberal, he explained that:

“The existence on campus of a range of beliefs, values and experiences is essential to the spirit of inquiry and debate that lies at the heart of academic life. Who wants to go to a school where everyone thinks alike?”

In its modern usage, "diversity" means just the opposite. It means diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. “Diversity in this sense is not an academic value,” he added.

Kronman noted that identity-group diversity “encourages minority students, and eventually all students, to think that a departure from the beliefs and sentiments associated with their group is a violation of the terms on which they were admitted to the university. If students contribute to the good of diversity by expressing the racially, ethnically, or sexually defined views that members of their group are expected to share, then a repudiation or even critical scrutiny of these views threatens to upset the school’s entire educational program. It takes special nerve for an African-American student to defend inner-city policing or a gay student to support the baker who refuses to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.”

Indeed it does. Identity politics exists to foster groupthink. It is a product of Karl Marx’s intellectual heirs, particularly the Marxist theoretician Herbert Marcuse whose works became influential with the New Left in the 1960s.

According to author William S. Lind, in an important essay titled “The Scourge of Cultural Marxism”:

 “Marcuse argued that the revolution would not come from the working class but from a coalition of blacks, gays, feminist women, young people, etc., ‘sacred victim groups’ of political correctness.”

Cultural Marxist ideas now dominate college campuses across America.

Kronman concluded his Journal piece by noting that the greatest casualty of the diversity dogma “is the idea of truth itself, on which the whole of academic life depends.”

Kronman explained:

“Whatever else it may be, the truth is not democratic. We don’t decide what is true in mathematics or history or philosophy by a show of hands. The idea of truth assumes a distinction between what people believe it is and the truth itself. Socrates drove this point home in every conversation he had. It might be called the Socratic premise of all intellectual inquiry.”

Kronman's view assumes that the modern university has as its highest aim the pursuit of objective truth. But postmodernism, the prevailing view in academia, denies the existence of objective truth.  Once the search for universal or transcendent truth is dispensed with, we are left with “my truth” or “your truth.”

In the hands of the cultural Marxists, this rationale leads to the conclusion that truth is whatever benefits the designated oppressed victim groups. This is by design. Professor Kronman is correct that the pursuit of truth requires an end to identity politics on campus – but this requires that universities reject the twin dogmas of postmodernism and Cultural Marxism.

You can follow Nicholas J. Kaster on Twitter.