November 28, 2004

HERE’S MORE ON THE LACK OF DIVERSITY IN AMERICAN ACADEMIA, and its consequences:

When John Kennedy brought to Washington such academics as Arthur Schlesinger Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith, McGeorge and William Bundy and Walt Rostow, it was said that the Charles River was flowing into the Potomac.

Academics, such as the next secretary of state, still decorate Washington, but academia is less listened to than it was. It has marginalized itself, partly by political shrillness and silliness that have something to do with the parochialism produced by what George Orwell called “smelly little orthodoxies.”

Many campuses are intellectual versions of one-party nations — except such nations usually have the merit, such as it is, of candor about their ideological monopolies. In contrast, American campuses have more insistently proclaimed their commitment to diversity as they have become more intellectually monochrome.

They do indeed cultivate diversity — in race, skin color, ethnicity, sexual preference. In everything but thought.

Indeed.

UPDATE: A faculty reader emails: “We just hired a new vice president of diversity on campus and he’s about to start ‘diversity conversations.’ This could be a great opportunity to talk about diversity of thought, since they’re just now defining what diversity in Oregon means.”

Sounds like it could begin a useful conversation. I suspect that quite a few states will be having such discussions.