Crunchy Con

Tuesday June 26, 2007

Bad news on the diversity front

John Leo writes about Robert Putnam's research, which the "Bowling Alone" guru is apparently worried about releasing because it will give aid and comfort to diversity skeptics and other troglodytes. Excerpt:

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.

Putnam’s study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. Trust, even for members of one’s own race, is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friendships fewer. The problem isn’t ethnic conflict or troubled racial relations, but withdrawal and isolation. Putnam writes: “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’—that is, to pull in like a turtle.”
Though Putnam is wary of what right-wing politicians might do with his findings, the data might give pause to those on the left, and in the center as well. If he’s right, heavy immigration will inflict social deterioration for decades to come, harming immigrants as well as the native-born. 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.

I predict this research will have absolutely zero impact on the immigration debate. Why? Because Diversity is a dogmatic secular religion. To dissent from its dogmas is to declare oneself to be a heathen. Seriously, to question its premises is to be thought of as a closet hater by the Establishment. You would get about as far questioning Creationism at a backwoods Bible college as you would questioning Diversity at a US university, corporation or whatnot. In fact, that's a good comparison, because it's the secular left that's always cracking on religious people for ignoring science when it doesn't suit their ends.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out a comment just posted from Robert Putnam, who says that Leo's claim that he withheld his research is "utterly inaccurate."

Filed Under: Culture wars

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I think Rod's point is that the diversity cult encourages a form of segregation, despite the intentions of its defenders; it runs against the original spirit of liberalism, just as neo-con globalism runs against true conservativism.

What's with all the needy children parading along on the sidebar? Smells like compassionate conservatism.

I'm in the "why is this news?" camp. It's obvious that spontaneous socialization is easier when everyone in the group is similar. This is why college students like to live with college students, families with young children like to live in neighborhoods with lots of similar families, and retired people enjoy "active adult" communities. Note how this says nothing about race, ethnicity, or fear.

Race comes into it because people who differ by race often differ on a whole lot of other dimensions as well -- language, culture, religion, education, musical tastes, and so on. There's no real basis for spontaneous interaction when people have next to nothing in common.

This doesn't mean people are doomed to racial segregation forever, but it does suggest that we need to talk more about areas where people do get along across racial lines. The military has been mentioned, and military life is definitely distinctive enough to serve as a common bond for people who might not have a connection otherwise. I've also seen excellent race relations among musicians who perform the same kind of music and athletes who play the same sport, which to me shows that civilians can also form common identities that cross racial lines. This suggests that downplaying race and playing up the common activity works better than dwelling on what divides people.

Most diversity training I've encountered strikes me as counterproductive for this reason. People who work together often have a lot in common that can be highlighted -- they all chose a certain profession, for example, and that's a huge thing. Focusing on divisions can make people forget that, and I've often seen groups turn prickly after a session that approaches things that way. Also, a lot of diversity training facilitators are just plain bad at their jobs, which pretty much ensures that conflicts will develop.

The one exception to the training rule was a session I attended for Red Cross volunteers. What made it unique was that it covered ALL kinds of difference, including age and class as well as race and gender, and that it didn't assume a single power structure. It began with the assumption that ALL the volunteers, regardless of background, had to be ready to deal with all disaster victims -- again regardless of background. This symmetry was helpful, as was the flexibility that let participants decide which of their own characteristics were most important in defining them. People could choose to "be" their ethnicity one minute, their parental status the next, and so on. And that meant no permanent subgroups could form within the larger group that had come together for a common purpose.

Interesting discussion on diversity vs. Diversity.
Rod, you have a lot of strong, telling points-but this

[i]a backwoods Bible college[/i]

was distracting, to say the least, and unworthy.

Europe is already finding out that "multiculturalism" is a big lie as they struggle to keep their ultra-conservative Muslim immigrants from killing/attacking the indigenous infidels, prostitues, Jews and gays. The die is already cast; Europe will explode in a very bloody civil war in 10 or 15 years and 10s of thousands of people will die. And it will all be the fault, in large part, of the fanatical "multiculturalists" who preached that ultra-conservative Muslims from small underdeveloped villages in Bangladesh or Morrocco could live side-by-side happily with non-religious First World hedonists who believe in gay marriage and letting their women go topless on the beach, if only they just practiced "mutual respect" and "celebrated their differences".

We social conservatives knew this already five years or 10 years ago; it's a laugh that a fancy Hahvad big-shot is just now figuring it all out. When the blood starts to flow in Europe the mindless fanatics who thought that "multiculturalism" was the new great hope for utopian nirvana, will look as stupid and clueless as their predecessors looked when the Berlin Wall came down and the Great Soviet Worker's Paradise was revealed to be basically an impoverished Third World country.

I just kind of wish that Putnam could be airlifted into the middle of Europe in 10 years and forced to soak up all the "enrichment" as Paris turns into Lebanon and England into Sarajevo.

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About Crunchy Con

Rod Dreher is an editorial columnist for the Dallas Morning News, and author of "Crunchy Cons" (Crown Forum), a nonfiction book about conservatives, most of them religious, whose faith and political convictions sometimes put them at odds with mainstream conservatives. The views expressed in this blog are his own.

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