DIVERSITY OR INCLUSION?

Catalyst May Issue 2013, From The President's Desk

William A. Donohue

On virtually every college campus there is an office of diversity, or an office of diversity and inclusion. No candidate for an administrative post at any college can be expected to win the job unless he embraces diversity and inclusion. However, the diversity industry is not limited to higher education: diversity and inclusion managers, speakers, and trainers dot the landscape, instructing institutions ranging from the U.S. Army to the Fortune 500.

The title of this essay is happily heterodox, or politically incorrect. It suggests there is a tension between these two popular virtues, inviting us to choose between them. We must. But to those who have mastered the language of diversity and inclusion—they know the drill by rote—nothing could be more foreign than to cast these attributes as polar opposites. Indeed, the very idea that these are contradictory principles is enough to make them nauseous.

Diversity means one size does not fit all; inclusion means one size fits all. One cannot logically support both at the same time. We have to choose. Either we believe in pluralism, which is what diversity means, or we believe in uniformity, which is what inclusion means. Diversity is based on exclusion, the very opposite of its alleged co-virtue. Behaviorally, diversity means we are allowed to shop around: if we don’t like Macy’s, we can go to Neiman Marcus. Inclusion means there are no exceptions: Fourth of July celebrations exclude no Americans.

There are plenty of good reasons to support diversity and inclusion, but not simultaneously. We want men’s and women’s sports, including the sex segregation that marks the Olympics; otherwise, it would be unfair to women. That’s a tribute to diversity, not inclusion. We want men and women, of all races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations, to have one vote. That’s a tribute to inclusion, not diversity.

Sometimes the confusion is over the meaning of equality and equity. Equality means sameness, or an identical status; equity means fairness, or justice. It is only fair that students be given the grade they deserve; to give them all the same grade is to counsel injustice. It is only fair that all those in police custody are treated equally before the law; to treat some differently is to counsel injustice.

There is much talk these days about “marriage equality.” It is shorthand for allowing homosexuals to marry. But there are problems with this position, one of which touches on fairness. In other words, it is not axiomatic that marriage equality means marriage equity.

There is no limiting principle to marriage equality. If all those who seek to marry are to be treated equally, i.e., equal to a man and a woman who seek to marry, then on what basis can we deny two women from seeking to marry one man? On what basis can we deny a father from marrying his daughter? These are not hypothetical.

We have no shortage of Americans pushing for polygamy. While incest is still a taboo, there are cases like Patricia and Allen Muth, brother and sister, who have sought to get married. Then there is the case of David Epstein, a Columbia University professor of political science; three years ago he sought to justify having sex with his 24-year-old daughter. Indeed, his lawyer said to the court, “It’s okay for homosexuals to do whatever they want in their own home. How is this so different?”

Without a limiting principle, there is no logical way to deny marriage to anyone. This is the problem with marriage equality. Marriage equity, however, invokes the principle of justice, its limiting principle being procreation. Historically speaking, up until yesterday we thought it just to limit marriage to the only two persons capable of creating a family, namely one man and woman. Moreover, we know from countless studies that children do best when reared in intact families—it is the veritable gold standard. This begs the question: why would any society want to confer equal status on sexual relationships other than those that are heterosexual, monogamous, and united in the institution of marriage?

If something is special, it must be treated as special in society, and in the law. If it is not special, then we can adopt a random system, treating all competitors as equals. But history has shown that the most equitable marital relationships for society—the ones that most fairly serve the public interest—are heterosexual monogamous unions.

It is argued that if marriage is tied to procreation, that would disqualify sterile men and women. Not at all. They possess the attributes that make them ready substitutes to assume parental responsibilities in the event their kin suffer divorce or death. Those attributes are tied to the respective sexes: for different psychological and social reasons, boys and girls need moms and dads; two adults of the same sex are not adequate substitutes.

In short, marriage, defined equitably, should rest on exclusivity: it should be reserved exclusively for one man and one woman. That’s what nature ordained, and what nature’s God intended.


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Written by Bill