"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Loving The Creep–Pushing Diversity To Its Outer Limits

The creep moaned like a wounded water buffalo as he strained against his Torquemada trusses, belts, and restraints, plodding up the steep incline of the treadmill.

Every morning was the same – strapping on his traces, rubber tubing, and industrial belts, mounting the treadmill, and moaning and groaning through his perverse ritual of self-inflicted torture.

No matter how I tried to ignore him, I could not. He pranced and strutted in front of the first rank of stationary cycles in a display of self-agony and punishment. I could see his reflection in all the mirrors.  I could hear his grunts and howls from the ellipticals to the weights.

Smythe Potter was a committed progressive who fought for more inclusivity and diversity in colleges and universities. For him, America was still an antebellum plantation where white overlords ruled blacks, gays, Hispanics, and women. His fight was everyone’s fight, he said.  No slight should be overlooked, and every attempt should be made to make America the truly democratic country the Founding Fathers intended it to be. The bottom line of diversity – everyone is welcome in the big tent.

The problem was, however, that as much as progressives like Smythe wanted to create an environment in which all minorities, the marginalized, and the least favored were welcome, they wanted no part of it. They like everyone else wanted to stick to their own kind. It was fine and dandy to invite the creep into the big tent as long as Smythe didn’t have be there.

Smythe would have been uncomfortable in the company of flaming drag queens, bull dykes, pimps, pederasts, homeboys, gangbangers, and welfare queens.  If he absolutely had to attend the circus, he would be sure that he sat in his section of wealthy, patrician Yale white boys.

My tent is very small.  I want no part of the creep, the guy who blow-dries his chest hair, the man who polishes his balls, Death, the Barking Scarecrow or any other half-socialized misfit members of my gym. I want my tent to be like a gentleman’s club, all old leather, antique appointments, teak floors and mahogany banisters, polished brass planters, Persian carpets, and impeccable service. 

Does this sound surprising? A crabbed and somewhat bitter view of the world? Not at all. Human societies have dunned out ‘the other’ for as long as they have existed. Cultural homogeneity has always meant security, comfort, and social harmony. Outsiders were looked at with suspicion and circumspection. 

Bucharest dog packs are well-known.  They stake out their territory and defend it against all comers. Street dogs are mongrels, without pedigree and too long feral to have any recollection of training or discipline. Yet the packs behave like any other society.  They snap and snarl at outsiders who sniff around the perimeter, attack and bloody any dog that crosses the line, and admit only those who are worthy – those dogs which can defend, steal, forage, and fight.

When things were quiet they snuffled and sniffed, nipped and played, circled and settled.  When an outsider approached hackles went up and the whole pack bared its teeth, snarled, and formed a phalanx against the intruder.  If he probed further, the lead dog would jump at him, snap at his neck, and test his intentions, hunger, and abilities. When the threat was past, the dogs went back to snuffling and circling and settling down.

Diversity denies this fundamental reality. Not only do birds of a feather flock together, but they assure that the flock is pure, uniform, and completely homogeneous. Progressive idealism notwithstanding, human beings are no different.

The most devoted diversity-minded progressive will not eat in the Anacostia ghetto, go out with the boys in the Castro, have a few beers in a redneck Mississippi road house, spend Thanksgiving on the Pine Ridge reservation, spend the night in a psycho ward, or hang out on the stoops of Adams Morgan with the eses of Mara Salvatrucha.  For them diversity is an academic, theoretical, and an often self-serving concept.

Smythe Potter and his wife Ellen were both very much involved in social causes.  He had been a Freedom Rider, peace activist, and anti-war demonstrator in the Sixties and had never lost his sense of duty and obligation to the oppressed, the poor, and the disadvantaged.  There was no progressive cause that he did not espouse, and circulated petitions for clean air and water, flooded Congress with letters about the death penalty and offshore oil drilling, and lectured at campuses throughout the United States on the the rights of gays, and the plight of Hispanics.  He was tireless, and never refused an entreaty.

His wife was no less committed, but she focused her attention on diversity.  The civil rights struggle in which she too had been involved had never ended, she said, and it was her duty to continue to fight for the rights of people of color. As the euphoria of the civil rights era dissipated, and as black activists increasingly went their own way, Ellen felt disassociated and at odds and ends.  She was more often than not snubbed by black colleagues who felt that unity and uniformity – i.e. all-black caucuses, conventions, conferences, and meetings – were more powerful than racial cooperation.

Ellen turned to the role of women and found her new calling.  Despite the strides that American women had made since the Seventies, there was still a lot of work to be done. However, once again time had passed her by and young women were doing fine on their own.  They were now in the majority at medical and law schools, were rising to the top of their professions, were balancing work and career, and were quite productive and happy.

So Ellen turned exclusively to diversity, a topic which clearly corresponded to her advocacy for women and minorities, but which touched a more sensitive, spiritual place.  Human society would never evolve unless it became more inclusive, compassionate, and tolerant.  Although she would not admit it to her husband and to few colleagues, she was disappointed at the growing re-segregation of American society. She was nonplussed when she saw lunch tables, bleachers, and common rooms segregated by race.

“Birds of a feather”, said a college friend. "Encouraged to flock together by 'diversity'.

We live in a diverse society, and that is a good thing.  Italians, Jews, Irish, Poles and now Latinos keep refreshing the culture.  Without immigration we would be come a stale and ossified society.  Each new immigrant group has retained their cultural identity out of self-interest.  Once they came to America Ethiopians and Koreans have made their way by tightening their cultural bonds not loosening them.  In one or two generations they have become assimilated.  They needed no help.

Once blacks, Latinos, and other groups fully subscribe to majority, traditionally American norms; and once they attain the same levels of education and prosperity as middle class whites, they will be accepted and fully assimilated.  'Diversity' holds them back.

The most marginalized group in America, blacks, have remained far outside the mainstream of American society for over fifty years, if one takes the landmark ‘65 Civil Rights legislation as a benchmark; and this despite billions of dollars and the investment of liberals like Smythe and Ellen.  The black community, therefore, remains segregated and marginalized despite those who have wished to ‘help’.  Black homogeneity, solidarity, and collective responsibility can and should finally be marshaled.  Full integration will never happen without it.

The Barking Scarecrow is a neurasthenic woman whose self-image is so distorted and so out of touch with reality, that is painful to watch her strut through the exercise room and give advice to all comers on how to lose weight and keep in shape.  She has no idea that her skeletal frame, protruding skull, and rubbery ligaments are scary; and that no one wants to be near her let alone be like her.

Jerry is a mysophobe, mortally afraid of germs.  He will open doors with his elbow, cover his mouth and nose when anyone is talking to him, draw down all the Purell in the gym, swab every machine and weight with disinfectant towels before he begins to exercise. He is so obsessed with germs that he has become twitchy. His aversions have become internalized and he is a jumpy mess of tics.

I want no part of any of these people.  They do not belong in my tent.  I have no feeling or compassion for them; and I want them simply to go away.

Diversity per se is worth nothing.  It is neither an ideal nor a higher good.  It is a necessary configuration of society; but not a necessarily favorable or desirable one.

Shakespeare understood that human nature dictates human configurations and assembles societies in such a way that they can survive if not prosper. His plays are all about the same self-serving, protective measures taken to preserve the status quo and the uniformity of social groupings. Diversity for the English kings was simply not to be tolerated.  Eventually, of course, Cromwell came along and started his democratic reforms, but they too were not enough to ensure total integration of class.

Muslims in Europe today are perhaps the best example of bird-of-a-feather thinking. They defy French Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité remain resolutely separate. 

So, especially now in my later years I stick to my own kind.  I am neither dismissive nor critical of Jerry, Death, or The Barking Scarecrow.  It’s just that I don’t have time for them.  They are simply irrelevant outliers, marginal dwellers, sketchy caricatures of the middle gone awry. They have no place in my gentlemen’s club.

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