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Diversity: The New Segregation

Perhaps it takes someone educated in the Civil Rights era to see the startling similarities between yesterday’s segregationists and today’s diversity officers, although the fact that both claim to advance “the common good” should raise suspicions.

“Indeed, the argument that educational benefits justify racial discrimination was advanced in support of racial segregation in the 1950’s, but emphatically rejected by this Court,” U. S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas [1] wrote in his concurring opinion in Fisher v. the University of Texas. “And just as the alleged educational benefits of segregation were insufficient to justify racial discrimination then, see Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U. S. 483 (1954), the alleged educational benefits of diversity cannot justify racial discrimination today.”

Specifically, “It is also noteworthy that, in our desegregation cases,  we rejected arguments that are virtually identical to those advanced by the University today,” Justice Thomas notes. “The University asserts, for instance, that the diversity obtained through its discriminatory admissions program prepares its students to become leaders in a diverse society. See, e.g.,  Brief for Respondents 6 (arguing that student body diversity ‘prepares students to become the next generation of leaders in an increasingly diverse society.’)”

“The segregationists likewise defended segregation on the ground that it provided more leadership opportunities for blacks,” He goes on to quote these self-same segregationists:

“[A] very large group  of Northern Negroes [comes] South to attend separate colleges, suggesting that the Negro does not secure as well-rounded a college life at a mixed college, and that the separate college offers him positive advantages; that there is a more normal social life for the Negro in a separate college; that there is a greater opportunity for full participation and for the development of leadership; that the Negro is inwardly more ‘secure’ at a college of his own people”

“The Negro child gets an opportunity to participate in segregated schools that I have never seen accorded to him in non-segregated schools. He is important, he holds offices, he is accepted by his fellows, he is on athletic teams, he has a full place there.”

Justice Thomas neatly dispatches the logic of this case: “Indeed, no court today would accept the suggestion that segregation is permissible because historically black colleges produced Booker T. Washington, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other prominent leaders.” Moreover, he goes on to show how eerily similar their defense was to that of the diversity mavens at UT: “There is no principled distinction between the University’s assertion that diversity yields educational benefits and the segregationists’ assertion that segregation yielded those same benefits.”

Finally, he gives a summation on civil rights that its would-be advocates would do well to consider: “The worst forms of racial discrimination in this Nation have always been accompanied by straight-faced representations that discrimination helped minorities.”


Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org [2].