Diversity Is Strength! It`s Also…Painful PC Brainwashing
November 09, 2007, 04:00 AM
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As "certificated" (no-one knows why this weird term is used) California teacher, I was recently subjected to an obligatory and painful-to-sit-through class titled "Teaching the Diverse Learner".

The California Department of Education imposes these courses on us as a condition of keeping our credentials current. It`s one of those "grin and bear it" situations. The best thing to do is suck it up and tough it out.

But toughing it out is no small feat. The class met Friday night from 6:00-10:00 P.M., all day Saturday and all day Sunday—for three consecutive weeks.

Here`s what`s involved: forking over the $600 enrollment fee, driving through the Friday night I-5 bumper-to-bumper traffic from Lodi to Sacramento (not as bad as Los Angeles but close enough), sitting through endless hours of lectures, role-playing, brainstorming and enduring the ceaseless barrage of propaganda about "embracing diversity."

Don`t remind yourself that that the course could easily be taken via computer, which would leave you in the comfort of your den, save the environment by keeping your car off the highway, and free up impossible-to-find parking spaces for legitimate students California State University at Sacramento, where my class convened.

My first matter of business in "Teaching the Diverse Learner" was to size up my classmates. (Hispanic, born in US, maybe 35%; 35% white liberals, 20% black; 10% Asian.)

Who among them was blindly pro-diversity? And which among them might be skeptical?

Until I had made that determination, the last thing I wanted to say was: "Why are we wasting our time?" That could identify me as "anti-diversity"—not a good label to be wearing in that potentially career-threatening environment.

My only indication that I had a single ally was a tentative comment made to me during a break. A fellow doubting Thomas (white) said: "I`m not so sure about all this."

From previous diversity seminars and workshops, I had determined that keeping quiet—easy for me anyway—is the only way to go.

In such sessions, my behavior is governed by one thing and one thing only—do not do or say anything that might extend the class, and therefore intensify my anguish.

My goal is to work toward the earliest possible dismissal time.

But I was conflicted about my choice to remain silent. I had a captive audience to present my case for questioning "diversity" and substituting merit.

Let me insert here my opinion of diversity: some is good, even welcome. But when it becomes the overriding factor in hiring and management, it`s bad.

And having diversity shoved down your throat without an opportunity to present reasonable counter-arguments is intolerable in a supposedly free society.

The debate raged inside me: should I speak out and set off a torrent of comment that would keep the class blundering on? Or hold my tongue—and get out ASAP?

Difficult decision. But I hung on to my conviction that the less said the better…until our group-talk shifted to diversity in the corporate world.

One angry (black) woman announced that getting more "people of color" in high-level corporate jobs is essential if minorities are ever to get ahead.

All around the room, heads nodded in agreement.

Unable to endure more, I steeled myself and stood up to address the group.

In an effort to establish credibility, I gave a brief summary of my business background. I went on to say that over the last two decades enormous strides have been made toward diversifying the workplace. Every major corporation has, I pointed out, a well-staffed diversity department. Personnel placement agencies specializing in securing jobs for the diverse abound. Diversity is a $8 billion dollar industry.

Finally, by way of summary, I said: "Look at Merrill Lynch`s Stanley O`Neal and Time Warner`s Dick Parsons—both Chief Executives."

Angry (black) woman: "I`m not talking about a couple of token jobs!"

Me: "You don`t understand. Merrill Lynch controls client assets in excess of $1.5 trillion dollars. And Time Warner is the world`s leading communication company. O`Neal and Parsons are two of the world`s most influential people."

Angry (black) woman: "You know what I mean!"

On that note, I sat back down. And began staring at my watch.

But as a former (as in a long time ago) Wall Street investment banker, I still follow financial news with morbid curiosity.

And I note that, lately, "diverse" chief executive officers have found the sledding rough.

Recently gone, via the "forced resignation route": Hewlett-Packard`s Carleton Fiorina and Merrill Lynch`s Stanley O`Neal.

And packing his bags is Time Warner`s Richard D. Parsons.

The case of O`Neal`s case is particularly telling. Shortly after he took over in 2002, O`Neal fired 15,000 employees, more than 20 percent of Merrill`s entire workforce. During his six-year tenure, 10,000 more employees got their marching papers. Many of these were certainly "people of color."

Three interesting footnotes about O`Neal`s miscalculation regarding Merrill`s role in the sub-prime mortgage market that hastened his departure.

  • Merrill`s $7.9 billion write off in the third quarter along with additional losses projected as high as $4 billion looming in the fourth quarter are the worst posted in Merrill Lynch`s 93-year history.

  • Denials from "well-informed sources" aside, Merrill`s enormous losses are likely to result in more firings—including jobs held by the diverse— for employees who played no role in O`Neal`s ill-advised decision to proceed full speed ahead in a high-risk venture.

  • One might think that a black man from rural Alabama O` Neal, America`s most prominent African-American executive, would be aware of the human impact of predatory lending practices to the economically disadvantaged. But apparently not.

Notwithstanding O`Neal`s "resignation", he will receive more than $161 million in compensation.

Other prominent African-American executives may be able to erase the bitter taste that O`Neal left.

Among active black chief executives at major corporations: Ronald A. Williams, Aetna; Alywin B. Lewis, Sears; Kenneth Chenault, American Express; John Thompson, Symantec.

Others include Ursula Burns, president, Xerox; Lloyd G. Trotter, president GE Industrial Systems and Don Thompson, president, McDonalds USA. [Is There Room at the Top for Black Executives? By Ron Stodghill, New York Times, November 1, 2007]

And, because the diversity machine is so well-oiled in corporate America, the O`Neal-Parsons experiences will no doubt be a mere bump in the road for black executives.

Corporations are increasingly likely to err on the side of diversity i.e. anti-white discrimination after costly payments in bias lawsuits. In 1997, Texaco settled a class-action suit for $176 million. In 2000, Coca-Cola paid $192.5 million to about 2,000 plaintiffs.

Of course, from an employees` perspective, whether the chief executive is black or white may not make a difference. They have to keep their noses to the grindstone and hope senior management doesn`t screw up too badly.

Good luck on that one!

As the record now shows, black executives are at least as capable as whites of making wrong decisions.

Joe Guzzardi [e-mail him] is the Editor of VDARE.COM Letters to the Editor. In addition, he is an English teacher at the Lodi Adult School and has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.