Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Diversity Doesn’t Oppress, It Educates

In his column “Liberals Should Curb Their Immoderate Impulse” (www.thehoya.com, Nov. 3, 2008) Jeffrey Long stirred us with an invective against Georgetown’s self-righteous fixation on diversity. Having subjected myself to the full 10 paragraphs of Long’s humble bloviation, I felt compelled to respond.

I cannot fathom what Long is on about when he suggests that “… we bear witnesses to [the] impulse of immoderation and immodesty … with diversity proposals and organizations right here at Georgetown.” Long looks to redress our diversity fetish, but he does so with all the exaggeration and self-victimization of, well, the American left. I hated Pluralism in Action, but I was never so intellectually defensive as to think that I was oppressed by it. The fact that Long wields Pluralism in Action as the avatar of his oppression may very well attest to his lack of perspective.

What is his complaint, really? That too many people ask too many questions that make too many people uncomfortable? “Each of these unjustified and rabble-rousing controversies inevitably results from rash and immodest `diversity’ engineers who promote a dialogue and agenda determined to prove that most Georgetown students are bigots …” Long accuses the diversity agenda both of wanting to force the majority to mix with the minority and of wanting to do away with the majority all together. His arbitrary synthesis of anti-P.C. sentiments never really makes for a coherent argument.

Long warns us of such pluralism’s ugly consequences for our broader national dialogue: “The immodest impulse becomes an agenda – an agenda which tends not only to fail in attempts to solve existing problems, real or perceived, but that tends to create new problems as well.” I am not sure how many eras of American political history one would have to gloss over to so thoroughly discount such activism – the 20th century alone provides some stunning counterexamples – but his thesis here misses its mark.

The idea that substantive social progress is strictly ephemeral defies, well, history. Societies are never coursing toward some happy end, to be sure; they are complex arrangements that invariably invite complications.

The reconciliations of the Reconstruction invited significant political discomfort for blacks between the end of the Civil War and the New Deal, if not longer; Progressive Era arguments for women’s protection complicated the cause for women’s equality; the Great Society tended to the least among us at the cost of a larger government. But the idea that we should resign ourselves to the injustices of the present for fear of what inconveniences may arise were we to rectify them defies good sense. Malcolm X and Barry Goldwater shared the sentiment that “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue …”

His complaints about ambitious national agenda-setting aside, Long weaves a rather paranoid narrative of pluralism’s motives here on campus, asserting that “the immoderate goals of the `diversity’ agenda would not be necessary in anyone’s mind unless racism, sexism and homophobia had consumed our campus.” Really, this is overwrought in the extreme.

I do not need to bear witness to a cross-burning on Healy Lawn to wonder why so many groups – whites included – sit strictly amongst themselves in Leo’s. I don’t need to indict those groups as racist in order to ask that question, either. The idea that there is no point in discussing these things until after the tensions flare in some unhappy incident is a rather imprudent suggestion.

I do not need to be oppressed to feel isolated from and by our campus culture, our student leadership and the Polo regime. No one is asking anyone to kowtow to the supposedly downtrodden. But I do ask you to consider: We flocked to a school in a city that is nearly two-thirds non-white. Maybe we should make the most of that. We matriculated to a university that is two-thirds white, ostensibly in search of an education. If you honestly believe that there is nothing you could learn from the myriad backgrounds of that remaining third that you could not learn in a system of self-segregation, you may very well have lost all sense of what an education entails.

Justin Charity is a senior in the College.

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