Diversity: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

When it comes to diversity, it helps to read the fine print. It's not free.

Diverse kids

Kids in Maplewood, New Jersey were recently disappointed, then excited again, to learn that their school’s Halloween festivities had been cancelled and then reinstated.

Maplewood’s Seth Boyden Elementary School has traditionally hosted spooky activities on or around October 31st but has found that more and more parents are choosing to opt their children out on account of the holiday’s pagan origins. “We have a very diverse school district,” district spokeswoman Suzanne Turner said. “Every year, we have students who opt out of the [Halloween celebration] and the principal felt that number was significant enough,” to cancel this year’s festivities.

According to a syndicated article by reporter Jessica Mazzola, the party-poopers are evangelical Christians. Yes, I know it seems a little difficult to believe. Most American Christians, and indeed most American Evangelicals, celebrate Halloween. Many churches even sponsor Halloween parties and trunk-or-treat events. Am I supposed to believe that this small minority of Christians makes up twenty percent of the school age population in a New York suburb? Apparently so.

The framing of the issue sounds eerily familiar, even if the group the school intended to placate—Evangelical Christians—is highly unusual. We can now add Halloween parties to the list of things we can’t do because we live in a diverse society.

Can’t do that, can’t say that, can’t wear that, can’t think that, can’t eat that, because…diversity.

Advocates of diversity ought to familiarize themselves with a little thing called “truth in advertising.” Like all ideas, diversity is “sold,” in a manner of speaking. Great efforts are made to get the public to buy into the concept that the optimal model for society is a heterogeneous jumble of people who share nothing in common. The fewer commonalities we have, the better! That’s what diversity means—differentness. It’s enough to make you wonder what the benefits of diversity are; besides the race riots and lack of social cohesion, I mean. As many condescending liberals have explained to me, the benefits of living in a diverse society include a panoply of ethnic restaurants right in our own neighborhoods…and not much else. I guess that’s a good enough selling point for some people.

But is it too much to ask of diversity’s booster club that they at least disclose the price of diversity before we decide it’s something we want? They never do. Diversity is promoted as an unqualified good, something that only a crazy person wouldn’t like. It’s all roses, no thorns.

Until the bill comes due, that is, and then we find out that diversity isn’t free. With a myriad of cultures comes a limitless set of traditions, social norms, prickly sensibilities and hot button issues. Someone is always bound to take offense or to feel excluded, which requires us to reinvent our culture from the bottom up. Now that we live in a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-lingual, and even multi-gendered (!) society, our old ways are no longer appropriate.

I could easily write a book filled with examples of stuff that the diversity enforcers won’t allow us to say, do, and think. I would call it “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” a phrase you probably heard your father say when you broke a lamp playing ball in the house. For the sake of brevity, I have compiled a short list of “nice things” that people living in diverse environments can’t have.

Catholic Organizations—at Catholic Universities

Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington decided in 2013 that its nondiscrimination policy would not permit it to recognize a campus chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s organization. This would be bad enough if it weren’t for the fact that Gonzaga is, in theory at least, a Catholic university.

Sue Weitz, Gonzaga’s vice president for student life, explained that the decision hinged on the fact that the K of C requires all of its members to be Catholic. “If Gonzaga was an institution that served only Catholics and limited the benefits of the collegiate experience only to them, the decision-making process may have been different,” she wrote.

So if everyone were Catholic, this wouldn’t be an issue. She ignores the fact that all of its students chose Gonzaga knowing that it is Catholic and some probably because it is Catholic. Even so, her message is clear: the K of C would be okay if all students were of one religion, but because they aren’t, it will find no shelter at her university. Differentness means that we can’t have clubs exclusive to Catholics or presumably anyone else. “To embrace diversity and yet endorse a group based on faith exclusivity is a challenge that cannot be reconciled at this time,” she continued. In other words, Gonzaga can either have diversity or the Knights but not both.

Thankfully, the decision was later reversed and the world did not end.

Respect for the Military

Yes, some people are offended by the sight of uniformed service members; and by “some people,” I mean Muslims. Sergeant Mark Prendeville, a member of Britain’s Royal Air Force, learned this lesson after he was brought to the hospital emergency room in Margate, England, after being sprayed in the eyes with a chemical fire extinguisher, and was twice moved so that other patients wouldn’t be offended by the sight a British airman. According to hospital staff, there had been a previous altercation in the hospital between someone of an unspecified culture and a member of Her Majesty’s armed forces. When Prendeville asked why he was being moved, he was told that “We have all kinds of different cultures coming in and you might upset them.” We’re left to guess which “different cultures” she meant but I’ll wager it wasn’t Latvians.

Instead of doing the brave thing, the hospital staff decided to pursue a policy of hiding the squaddie in the back room like some kind of shameful family secret. Disgusting.

Innocuous High School Plays

In 1999, Amherst High School in Amherst, Massachusetts decided that it would not allow a student production of West Side Story. Because diversity.

Apparently West Side Story promotes racial stereotypes and is therefore offensive to the Puerto Rican community. It’s practically the theatrical version of an old South lynching! As the Los Angeles Times reported: “Principal Scott Goldman stressed that ‘West Side Story’…was not banned but canceled. ‘This isn’t about censorship,’ he insisted. ‘It’s about sensitivity.’”

Riiiiight. Because “canceled” sounds so much nicer than “banned” just as “sensitivity” sounds nicer than “censorship.”

Amherst High student Bruce Penniman, who supported the ban—oops, I mean cancellation—explained why the musical had to go. “Amherst has become a very diverse place. Latinos, African- Americans, and Asians make up 30 percent of the student body.” Oh, that really clears things up. So West Side Story wouldn’t have been problematic in the Amherst of an earlier era but as the population became more diverse racial hypersensitivity became an imperative.

Cystic Fibrosis Fundraisers

The student association of Carleton University in Ottawa voted nearly unanimously in 2008 to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as the benefactor of funds raised during its annual charity drive because the disease was apparently not “inclusive” enough. According to the resolution, cystic fibrosis “has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men.” Ergo, the charity would not receive a dime. Diversity was predictably cited as justification. According to the resolution: “[A]ll orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve the their (sic) diverse communities.”

A few of the charity’s defenders pointed out that, contrary to the resolution’s medical quackery, cystic fibrosis is not just a white man’s disease. It impacts white men disproportionately but not exclusively. Even this argument was a capitulation to their twisted logic. What they should have said is “So what?” Cystic fibrosis is a chronic illness that causes a lifetime of pain. The charity was a worthy cause regardless of its victims.

I could go on and on with dozens of more examples. Far from being a bonus, diversity looms as a pagan god that demands the constant sacrifice of everything we hold dear. In exchange for a few benefits—exotic restaurants, I guess?—it compels society give up its traditions, its sacred rights, and even its basic decency. The terms of the Faustian bargain are never spoken aloud of course because no one would ever accept it if they were. Diversity’s salesmen will tell us that there is much to gain and nothing to lose though experience should tell us that they’re lying. It first demands that we give up the small stuff, things that seem insignificant when considered in isolation, such as silly high school musicals. What’s the big deal if we ditch West Side Story for the sake of racial harmony? But it doesn’t stop there because diversity’s hunger is never sated. A precedent has been set and will inevitably be followed from there on out.

Diversity, in a nutshell, is the reason we can’t have nice things.

Benny Huang is a lonely conservative in the very liberal Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. He strives to make the world a better place through his writing. He is a veteran.