Diversity valuable part of society


I was irritated enough by John Keisling's recent column on diversity ("'Diversity' entails racism, persecution," Sept. 20) to reread it four times. In it, Keisling uses the UA Diversity Action Council's yearly calendar as a pretext to discredit "diversity" as a value, and to portray it as a vehicle for leftist propaganda.

The argument is that the Diversity Action Council values all "diversity" and by doing so must also value cultural characteristics such as clitoral circumcision, "women as property" and the burying alive of criminals. Stating this, Keisling has no trouble expanding on the absurdity of "diversity" as a value. (After all, clitoral circumcision is no good!) But even Keisling knows that the members of the Diversity Action Council don't mean this when they say that they value diversity. What does he think the organization's stance is on the British and Dutch "culture" of enslaving Africans and selling them in the colonies? (A tradition of the past, thank God.) Celebrating diversity does not mean being 100 percent relativistic about morality. Keisling is being misleading by implying as much. So what does it mean?

Diversity is a weathered word in America and I agree with you, Mr. Keisling, that it has been misused for political purposes. (Your column is a prime example of that.) But what is the intention of valuing and encouraging diversity? Perhaps it is to counteract another weathered American concept: segregation. Yes, Mr. Keisling, I know you don't favor laws that force people to live in separate neighborhoods, go to separate schools and work at separate jobs. I know you want equal treatment under the law for all the citizens of our country.

But look around you. America is still, in many ways, a segregated society. The lack of interaction between groups (cultural and otherwise) breeds misunderstandings, intolerance and hate. If we can maneuver things to encourage interaction or "diversity," as some call it we would benefit. It would help us understand our surroundings (i.e. society) and ourselves (i.e. our place in society) better.

How far to go to accomplish this is certainly subject to debate. I have a difficult time making up my own mind about the politics of the matter. These are tricky issues. Despite my liberal tendencies, I can understand why one might, for example, oppose affirmative action. However, I can not understand how one can mock the value of diversity. That is, the diversity I've attempted to outline not Keisling's.

Jonas Leijonhufvud

Media Arts Junior

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