The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt University and Undermine Our Culture

by Heather Mac Donald
St. Martin’s Press

book review by Christopher Klim

“The great accomplishment of European Enlightenment was to require all forms of authority to justify themselves through rational argument, rather than through coercion or an unadorned appeal to tradition.”

For decades, splinter groups on campus have seized control of events and departments to block intellectual discourse. The result has been the destruction of property, the dissolution of longstanding careers, and the dissemination of fear throughout campus and especially within its ranking officers. Even the police are afraid to act. The majority on campus is being divided, tagged, and bagged as the perpetrators of crimes (racists, rapists, etc.). While the characterization of these crimes runs roughshod over the facts and statistics, the fringe bullies push forward, isolating and destroying anything or anyone in their path. They stamp their feet and scream like toddlers, finger-pointing manufactured offenses. Anyone not adhering to their proclamations is inherently guilty. However, the underlying cause of all of this is as simple as it is obvious: These student protesters are for the most part not prepared well enough for higher learning, and society at large continues to ignore the root problem.

Welcome to the Age of Ignorance, a malignant tumor ironically embedded within the Information Age. We have easy access to science, history, and art, but most of us hyper focus on ephemeral cultural pursuits that add little value to progress yet wield untold levels of impact on the course of society. We’ve turned our eye from the ball and the need to bring society as a whole forward. We lack even basic survival skills, much less the fruits of higher learning, and depend solely on corporate streams for staples and narrow unvetted avenues for information. We have all the mental worth of automatons and the stability of shifting sand. No wonder so many of us are unhappy and scared.

“Everywhere we look at present we see something new trying to be born. A pregnant, swollen world writhing in labor, and everywhere untrained quacks are officiating as obstetricians. These quacks say that the only way the new can be born is by a Caesarean operation. They lust to rip the belly of the world open.” – Eric Hoffer

Mac Donald begins her thoughtful treatise with “The Hysterical Campus,” although the entire book could’ve been dubbed the same. Campus life has been turned on its head by small interest groups managing to rule the provost’s office—actually blackmailing a frightened and misguided academic hierarchy into submission. We saw this during the 1960s, which may have been the historical beginning of the movement that strangles academic reason today and threatens the entire institution.

“What the intellectual craves in his innermost being is to turn the whole globe into a classroom and the world’s population into a class of docile pupils hanging onto the words of the chosen teacher.” –Eric Hoffer

When tyrannical groups seize power, dissent is silenced by any means and a so-called enlightened way of thinking is taught with equal force. This is happening right now. These protestors, which typically believe they are elevating thought for the first time in civilization, reveal their core ignorance. They are beating the well-worn path of socialist incursion. It begins with the drumbeats of group think and ends with violence and ultimately the transformation of free thought into a mortal sin. These dangerous groups, narcissistic by nature, cannot view themselves within time, because for the most part they lack even a basic education in world history.

“…liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants.” – Frederick Douglass

The Diversity Delusion is a difficult read, not because the prose is challenging, but rather it identifies damaged social structures as the root cause of inferior education while undressing political correctness as the seed of campus dystopia now spilling over to contemporary society. Working people once giggled at academia’s labored and awkward striving to modify thought and language, but it’s no longer funny. Formerly a place where great minds convened to prove their mettle, academia today often resembles a socialist retraining camp. It’s a place where the best intention—to be inclusive—has metastasized into fascist singular thought. This is hardly an environment to foster creativity, much less bring the disciplines forward.

The author restates the original campus mission, which includes the necessity to educate all who approach higher learning. It’s a societal sin to abandon eager minds. Clearly many of the rioting students were given a different education and a sure-fire path to failure when dropped in the mix with students who gained more advanced preparation for college. The answer isn’t dumbing down the disciplines to appease these students, and it certainly isn’t to vilify the luckier students with a suite of theoretical and frankly racist labels ending in “…aggression” and “…privilege,” as is taking place today. Warning, this bad campus drama has already arrived at the office, within government, and amid various public forums.

Making amends to these students could involve a one- or two-year college primer path, so that willing students can level themselves to the course of study they desire. A society’s most important resource is its people. We need everyone, not the marginalization of disadvantaged individuals or the vilification of those more fortunate. Those reactions are the lazy answers to the problem. They are the uninspired and ultimately damaging paths to take. Unfortunately, the protesting academic body have labeled the effort to expand their knowledge as “racist” thought.

Mac Donald’s writing is that of a traditional journalist who reports events, supports it with actual fact, and then layers with commentary wrought through her personal view. Her book is brave, and the research goes deeper than just academia, but it will no doubt be attacked by the Age of Ignorance’s foot soldiers, who claim to adhere to no religion but burn with an orthodoxy as hot as a fundamentalist at a revival and who sport every attribute of its righteous tunnel vision. Either group would proudly stand in a crowded room with a finger in the air and exclaim, “I am the wisest. I know the one truth. I am the way.” History burgeons with these reckless clowns. They are the fools who have started wars and led entire societies beneath brutal regimes, each expounding the virtues of their idealistic utopias. Enough is enough. Only logic and courage will combat these self-absorbed bullies. Mac Donald sounds a clarion call for the knowing.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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The Book Killers: Weak Point of View

The Book Killers: White Room

In this ongoing series, Christopher Klim, author and senior editor of the US Review of Books, takes a look at common errors that undermine books.

White room syndrome happens when a writer fails to give sufficient information about the setting. For the reader, this can be disorienting if not completely boring. Perhaps there are times when the writer desires this effect, but it isn’t the norm. Setting is the writer’s friend, and it should be exploited at every opportunity. A good writer employs the most interesting aspects of location to strengthen the drama. A great writer paints the entire landscape with a single sentence.

In theory, a story spans a particular time period. Booksellers like to classify stories as historical, contemporary, and futuristic. This is nothing more than past, present, and future respectively, and each changes the parameters of setting. Let’s take a closer look at each category.

The Past

The past is recorded in the annals of history. The writer connects with this information through personal experience, experts, and documentation. While expert sources are good, our own memory of the past is unreliable and must be verified. We often don’t remember things exactly as they were, even once familiar details. We also romanticize the past. Hanging clothes on the line, piece by piece, on a warm spring afternoon sounds sweet, but it was never as nice as shoving them in the dryer.

Another aspect of the past involves historical events. Consider history in two ways: as a backdrop or as an immediate surrounding. In the opening to The World According to Garp, World War II is a backdrop. It fills the air with tension, although the specifics of war never enter the picture. In the film, Pearl Harbor the surprise attack takes over the story and frankly crowds the personal stories. If a story gets close to a major historical event, it will dominate the narrative.

The Present

A story in current times includes the tangible past and future. The writer is not redesigning the world but employing it for dramatic effect. Regardless, intriguing locations exist in present times: a peek inside surgery, life on an oil drilling platform, or the machinations of a textile factory in China. Most people haven’t viewed these locations up close, but each writer has witnessed unique settings and might make use of them.

The Future

Fifty years ago, we were projected to be commuting to the space wheel in the sky, with a four-day workweek and loads of playtime for interesting new social games. It appears that the experts guessed wrong. By all accounts, the coming years will be dirtier, noisier, and more crowded, if not busier. This is what made the movie Blade Runner so special, besides the twisted ending. The future is open to interpretation, but whatever world is designed for a story, it must be a logical extension of its own history. In Dune, the author included a lexicon inn the back pages, and, to his many readers, it’s a road map for a real world.

Where is the story location?

Story scenes occur in one or more locations. These are physical locations on the planet or in the imaginary world of the writer, although placement is not the only consideration of setting location. A story focus varies from a wide to a tight view. One writer may traverse the global landscape in pursuit of a story, while another remains in the same room for the duration. In either case, writers seek the extraordinary details, and much like character details, even the most mundane parts can achieve intrigue and brilliance.

What is life like in the story?

This is a broad question, involving many aspects of life at a particular location and moment in time. A writer considers food, clothing, transportation, education, occupation, religion, and language, and the list of possibilities is much larger. Any social behavior or lifestyle element may be useful to the story. The Pennsylvania Amish live differently than people fifty miles away in downtown Philadelphia. While each is somewhat aware of the other, individuals remain bound to the customs and circumstances of geography and culture.

Tips for Applying Setting:

  • Using setting details is a lot like using character details. Apply them in proportion to their importance to and impact on the story. Every word that appears in the text garners attention. If the writer embellishes a particular aspect, the reader will assume it’s important.
  • Seek interesting details, over the common or mundane. In a present day setting, everyone has a good idea how a steaming coffee mug looks, smells, and feels. On the other hand, the same cup of coffee assumes a new dimension in another time period. In 1776, coffee might take thirty minutes to prepare, while in 2220, coffee might enter your hydration tube at the mere thought of it.
  • Employ characters to interpret the setting in their thoughts and words, rather than straightforward narrative passages. The story will perform double duty, fleshing out the characters and surroundings at the same time.
  • If the story must include pure descriptions in the narrative, try embedding inside passages of dialogue. The landscape will be built without the reader hearing your construction noises in the background.
  • When incorporating setting into a scene, try to include all of the senses. Most of us absorb life with our eyes, followed by our ears and nose, but remember to include touch and taste. These senses become more poignant in a well-crafted story.
  • Setting can facilitate entrances and exits to scenes. The natural machinations of a particular place can provide opportunities to nail down the point and exit the scene.
  • Certain settings can amplify the tension—a bad storm, a lousy neighborhood, a creaking floor.

The list of possible devices and uses is endless. Setting helps, but it’s not a cure-all. However, if the setting isn’t sufficient, the reader will be lost in white room syndrome without a sense of time and place.

Previously in The Book Killers series: Wandering Plots