View From Lodi, CA: Oh, No! My Hometown Comes Last In Diversity Acceptance Survey!
August 10, 2007, 05:00 AM
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Lodi residents are not tolerant of people of diverse backgrounds, according to the findings of the National Citizen Survey.

So read the headline of the Lodi News-Sentinel's August 1st edition

Even more damning is Lodi's dismal diversity acceptance grade—36 on a scale of 100—dead last in the nation among those cities that participated in the survey and chose to ask its residents about their feelings regarding diversity. [Lodi Scores Low on Race Acceptance: Survey Says Residents Not Tolerant of Diversity, By Matt Brown, Lodi News-Sentinel, August 1, 2007]

See the results of the survey here.

Surveys of this type are often misleading. And in this case, regarding diversity, they are way off the mark.

In the first place, Lodi is not a diverse city in the true sense of the word. The city's population is made up of two groups. The latest census data shows that Lodi is roughly 75 percent white and about 25 percent Hispanic with a small number of blacks and Asians.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, is diverse. For those who count themselves as one race, whites are 50 percent of the population, followed by Asians, 13 percent, black, 10 percent and "some other race" 27 percent. Hispanics and Latinos of any race, a separate census category, make up 47 percent of the city's population.

Can a non-diverse city be intolerant of diversity? Just because a city is not diverse doesn't automatically mean that it would be narrow-minded about multiculturalism.

And does the survey assume that legitimate objections to illegal immigration is the same as diversity intolerance?

What the Lodi survey doesn't make clear is who isn't tolerant of what. The suggestion is that Lodi's white middle class needs to be more accepting of Hispanics. But perhaps it is the other way around. No tangible evidence either way was presented.

The survey's findings, if you can call a response of less than one-half of one percent (340 residents) of Lodi's total population an adequate sampling, apparently urge Lodi to become more diverse.

Diversity is openly promoted as an essential part of our society. In the media and academia, diversity's merits go unquestioned. Embrace diversity or suffer the consequences.

But substantial data exists about the downside of diversity. To save you from having to dig it out on your own, I'll point you to a new study by Harvard University professor Robert Putnam titled E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century.

Based on five years of research Putnam, a long time liberal student of social interaction, found that increased immigration (the greatest source of diversity in the last forty years) has challenged community cohesion. What's needed, says Putnam, is a sense of shared citizenship.

Putnam found that the more diverse a community becomes, the harder it is for ethnic groups to interact and to trade in social capital.

In cities where levels of social capital are high, children grow up healthier, safer and better educated; people live longer, happier lives; and democracy and the economy work better.

On the other hand, according to Putnam's research, in cities like Los Angeles, people of all ethnic backgrounds tend to "hunker down". Trust (even of one's own race) is lower, friends fewer, altruism and community cooperation more rare, voting more unlikely, confidence in local institutions, their leaders and the press weaker, and TV-watching more frequent. [The Downside of Diversity, Michael Jonas, Boston Globe, August 7, 2007]

These are the stark realities of life among new immigrant groups. No matter how much we may want multiculturalism to work, wishing won't necessarily make it so.

What does work, however, is unity.

Assuming that high levels of immigration will continue throughout the 21st Century, the responsibility to unite falls on those who voluntarily choose to come to the U. S.

Many outreach programs like language classes are available for anyone with the initiative to take advantage of them. For our collective good, let's hope the interest in unity is keen enough among all ethnic groups to become involved.

[JOENOTE TO VDARE.COM readers: To learn more about social capital from a much more well-informed source on the subject than me, read Steve Sailer's column here. And read Steve's analysis of "E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century" here.]

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.