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

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Diversity–Myth, Reality, And Sticking To One’s Own Kind

In Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, the Broadway 50s musical based on Romeo and Juliet, a boy and girl from two opposing gangs, one white and the other Puerto Rican, fall in love. Anita, a friend of Maria, warns her against getting involved with someone from a different community.  She sings:

A boy like that
Who'd kill your brother
Forget that boy
And find another
One of your own kind
Stick to your own kind
A boy like that
Will give you sorrow
You'll meet another boy tomorrow
One of your own kind
Stick to your own kind

“Stick to your own kind” is her refrain. If you don’t, you’re asking for trouble.  Of course Maria does not listen, bad turns to worse, and the final scene is a melodramatic replay of the end of the star-crossed lovers.

Wandering onto the playground, Tony sees Maria, at first thinking that it is only in his mind, then realizing it really is her, but as they run towards each other, Chino appears out of nowhere and shoots Tony. As the Jets and Sharks appear, Maria and Tony reaffirm their love ("Somewhere"), but Tony dies in her arms. Maria takes the gun from Chino and accuses everybody in sight of the deaths of Tony, Bernardo, and Riff. The police and gang members arrive. When they see Tony dead, some of the Jets lift him, and the Sharks join them, while Chino is taken away by the police. As in Romeo and Juliet, tragedy has brought the feuding between the two gangs to an end (IMDb)

In short, the story is about diversity.

However, despite the blandishments of ‘progressives’ we cannot and never will. Suspicions and downright hostility will continue to exist until the great American experiment homogenizes us all.  There is no way that a white, upper middle-class resident of Spring Valley can possibly accept a black man from the ghetto; nor even a lower-middle class man from Prince George’s County.

Mixing is done at jury duty time – the only time that black and white from different socio-economic classes fraternize.  Not on the buses, for they are as segregated as the city.  Crosstown busses are black. North-South buses are white. Not in schools which in DC are as segregated as Detroit..  Even in private schools which have affirmative action programs, black students from poor neighborhoods self-segregate, letting wealthy white students off the moral hook. Not in churches which serve either white or black neighborhoods and are as culturally distinct as Vermont is from Mississippi.

Perhaps the earliest ‘diversity’ movie is Freaks (1932).

A traveling circus has a wide variety of acts, including a number of sideshow curiosities based on some unusual physical attributes. They include midgets, limbless people, pinheads, conjoined twins, a bearded lady, and a half man/half woman. There are many interpersonal interactions between the entire troupe, those interactions which are generally amiable, although there are some who treat the curiosities merely as freaks. However, there are few romantic relationships between the "normal" troupe members and the curiosities. One of those exceptions is the budding romantic relationship between Hans and Cleopatra, one of the midgets and a trapeze artist (IMDb)

The moral of the story is captured in the familiar line, “One of us”.  The freak community bands together against the ‘normal’ outsiders.

There was nothing new in 1932, 1957 (West Side Story opening on Broadway), today, or back in the Cenozoic.  Although recent DNA analysis has shown that homo sapiens did interbreed with Neanderthals, it probably was no more common that normal performers marrying circus freaks. In fact historians of pre-history conclude that the two ‘racial’ groups tried to kill each other off, and thankfully the right side won.

No amount of persuasion or appeals to moral rectitude or Christian generosity can change the facts – people stick to their own kind and open their doors once the outsider acts like them. Functional integration results in educational and economic parity. A black Harvard Law School graduate working as a Washington lawyer is immediately accepted in the white community.  He, by dint of his pedigree, is considered an insider. His color is irrelevant.  Color has only been a convenient marker for the economically, socially, and educationally divergent.  Once a black man has gotten rid of his bling, attitude, and homeboy posturing; subscribed and adhered to majority (white/Asian) norms, he gets a key to the executive washroom and membership in the Cosmos Club.

Why is this lesson so hard to accept? Don’t birds of a feather flock together?

Don’t they peck at the intruder until he leaves?

No society – not even Margaret Mead’s Trobriand Islanders whose kinship and community patterns she distorted to suit her theories – exists without social, ethnic, economic, or racial divisions.  Whether India with its persistent caste system; our division by wealth, income, and race; or Iraq’s splintering divisions by Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd, we all do it.

American Indian tribes fought each other to the death. African tribes slaughtered each other and used captured warriors as slave currency. Chinese dynasties rose to power after battles with pretenders and likely enemies; and the Han Chinese today would like to eliminate any ethnic diversity to maintain polity.

Not only is there no point to ‘diversity’ programs; there is no point to diversity at all.  A culture benefits from the assimilation of diverse groups, taking from them their most valuable resources and providing them a productive home within a strong majority community.

The goal of ‘progressives’ should not be to preserve ‘diversity’ but to work towards the total absorption of outlying groups into the larger whole.  Everyone benefits.

Busing, affirmative action, and similar attempts to engineer a false and impossible social integration, have failed badly. In fact these idealistic and badly-informed programs have served to increase prejudice.  When black students from Anacostia are given admittance to elite private schools and cannot keep up, white students obviously say, “See?  What did I tell you?”. Black students who come from the same type of highly-educated professional families as the white students from Upper Northwest are immediately accepted as peers. In language, dress, appearance, comportment, intelligence, and intellect they are indistinguishable from the rest of the student body.  Color disappears because it was never the issue.

Let’s face it.  We like to be around our own kind.  Very few upper middle class white professionals are living anywhere near Anacostia.  Gen X newcomers to the city live for a time with poor black families, but they know full well that it is only a matter of time before they are priced out and the neighborhood will become homogeneous again, but this time majority white professionals.

The current mayor of New York City (De Blasio) is concerned that the city is becoming an enclave for the rich.  Taxpayer money must be used, he says, to subsidize lower income families to stay in Manhattan to enrich the mix. Unless he breaks the bank to pay off developers who are hungry to transform shaky residential areas into condos and upscale commercial areas, the homogenization process will continue unabated.

At the same time markets do have their say. If and when New York becomes so homogeneous that it is found boring, residents will move to newer, hip neighborhoods (like Brooklyn now); which in turn will become homogenized.

‘Progressives’ like to look at diversity not live it.  They are content to dip into an ethnic neighborhood or two for dim sum and tamales and then return back to the Upper West Side.

Human society has never changed, especially in its tendency to classify, define, segregate, and distribute by any number of factors.  Despite this social market-based dynamic, homogeneous societies are always challenged from the outside, and it takes decades if not longer to recalibrate and readjust the norm.  Europe is going through this period of adjustment right now. Muslim immigrant groups are militantly demanding to stick to their own kind and ignore secularism and integration into the political state.

So, ‘stick to your own kind’ is a fact of life.  The movements of people will always be fueled by culture, society, race, and especially income.  Societies become homogeneous, diverse, and homogeneous again. All part of the natural ebb and flow. Why tamper with it?  A total waste of time.

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