Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018
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A true celebration of diversity


Lutfieh Khalil Al Abbasi , left, from Jordan and Emin Abazoski from Macedonia take the Oath of Citizenship during a Naturalization Ceremony in July 2017 at Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

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A recent naturalization ceremony at Bowling Green State University, in which 34 immigrants from 20 countries took the Oath of Citizenship and became U.S. citizens, was a celebration of the America we want to be, and often are — perhaps more often than we realize. 

At the campus’ Student Union building, people from five continents agreed to uphold a common set of values and thereby participate in American society together. American society, in turn, promises them equal protection under the law.

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The only reason we have a concept of diversity and can celebrate it is because we have a functioning society capable of absorbing and integrating people of many different backgrounds. Diversity, in other words, demands unity around something other than national origin. 

When something done in the name of “diversity” misses this point and instead emphasizes divisive identity politics, it is actually undermining that which allows a diverse society to exist — and thus its own stated goal of diversity.

The faculty members and administrators whose full-time job is to emphasize the importance of “diversity issues” encourage students to think of themselves as separate groups. And not only separate, but oppressed if they are black or brown and oppressive if they are white. How is it, then, that these faculty and administrators can claim to promote diversity, when they make it less not more likely for diverse groups to view one another favorably?

If diversity is a cause like universities treat it, then it should be the cause of ensuring that people of diverse backgrounds can continue to live harmoniously together. Thus a day of absence for white people, per Evergreen State College in Olympia, Ore., clearly does not serve the cause of diversity. Neither do unconscious bias retraining programs. Or addressing African-American, Latino, LGBT and women voters as separate interest groups during political campaigns.

To celebrate diversity is also to celebrate unity. A celebration of diversity is fundamentally a recognition of how good it is that people of different peoples and cultures can come together behind a set of ideas — liberty under law, equality under the law, and freedom of speech and thought.

A program or administrative office or initiative that purports to celebrate diversity, but whose message encourages tribal thinking, is not creating one out of many, but conflict out of identity.

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