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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ross Douthat is clearly wrong

The left is completely willing to be honest about what it means by "diversity," at least at its net-roots. Just look at the comments to his column:
When people say they want a diversity of ideas it's implicit that the ideas pass even minor scrutiny. This means nearly all 'conservative' ideas don't pass muster.
An "NYT pick" of a comment. Seems pretty straightforward to me. Sure, sometimes there's inconvenient ambiguity involved, like when the same person simultaneously denounces FGM and the religion that facilitates it. But, in the end, there is always someone with unambiguously correct ideas to be found who will "pass muster," so to speak, so no one has to feel uncomfortably conflicted about the internal consistency of his idea of diversity for too long.

UPDATE: See, even the Crimson is willing to say it: "Brandeis should have more thoroughly vetted potential candidates to ensure that all of the recipients’ views were in line the university’s values." Santa makes his list, but sometimes he forgets to check it twice (incipient senility). Good thing the elves are so diligent! (Also enjoyable from this editorial is the invocation of the consensus of "the global community," which you may be surprised to discover requires only "6,800 signatures" on a Change.org petition. The WORLD has spoken.)

2 comments:

Jacob T. Levy said...

"the religion that facilitates it."

Sigh.

The band of countries where FGM is practiced (roughly east-west across the Sahel and north-south along Africa's east coast from Egypt to Tanzania) includes large-majority-Muslim societies and large-majority-Christian ones alike, and within that band, religion is not closely correlated with the practice. Outside that band of countries (plus almost-contiguous Yemen) it is very rare. The predictive power of "Islam" is very low; the predictive power of geography is very high. And wherever it is practiced, the locally-prevalent religion is used as the label for the sexual morality is supposedly upholds-- so Somalis like Hirsi Ali are told that it's "Muslim." But that's no more true than is what's said across the border with Ethiopia about its relationship to Christianity.

Miss Self-Important said...

This commenter's claim assumes some pre-circulated list of "muster-passing" positions, and diversity consists in acclaiming those individuals who uncomplicatedly espouse them all, which is to say, in acclaiming clones. People like Hirsi Ali complicate this hope b/c, if you divvy up her ideas into a laundry-list of positions, you find that she holds some approved views but not others. So, she's out because no doubt someone can be found who more perfectly fits the desired mold. I point to FGM and Islam b/c they happen to be the flash-point "ideas" at play in her case. My point is simply that this way of thinking about "ideas" is straight orthodoxy - you're handed the list of the pre-approved "ideas" and political thought consists wholly in finding a way to square them all with one another, since opposing any of them is not an option.

I'm not claiming Islam demands or causes FGM, or is inherently EVIL. But it's even stranger to claim such systematic practices are facilitated by geography. Could the dry air or mountainous topography of East Africa cause them? They require some kind of human justification or motivation to be carried out, and in Hirsi Ali's case, that justification was found in Islam. Your objection sounds like saying that b/c Americans didn't invent and weren't history's only practitioners of slavery and most Americans never even owned slaves, America shouldn't be associated with the slavery it did practice. Sure, defining America by slavery would be an oversimplification. But I think we can attribute complicity to it, even "facilitation." So when Edmund Morgan argues that slavery is actually deeply embedded in our principles or Ta-Nehisi Coates says racism essentially IS our principle, we don't all flip our lids over it. Christianity too admits its share of flagellation. So why ought we especially protect Islam from insinuations of complicity in Bad Deeds by proscribing someone like Hirsi Ali, who's hardly a mouth-foamer?