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Hullabaloo


Friday, August 10, 2007

 
Excuse # 8,565

by digby

The problem with hiring minorities is:

1955 - They are an inferior race
1965 - They aren't good workers
1975 - They make old white customers uncomfortable
1985 - Affirmative action means their diplomas are bogus
1995 - They are a litigation risk for discrimination
2007 - Diversity creates depression and hopelessness.


It's always something.



*It's true that the paper in question talks about diversity in neighborhoods, but you can imagine if people are depressed and hopeless living near those of other races and ethnic backgrounds, how suicidal they must be having to work among them all day, up close and personal. Certainly employers, along with all the right wing commentators who are so newly dedicated to civic involvement, will find much in this study to justify their "discomfort" in hiring minorities.

I do have to wonder how American made it this far, however. The last I heard the whole damned country was created by a bunch of people who were "uncomfortable" with one another at one time. It's hard to believe that a country that was literally formed by massive immigration has suddenly become so sensitive about brushing up against people who are different from themselves that they have decided to withdraw into their homes to watch TV and play on their computers in the dark all by their lonesome. I'll have to read the whole study to find out what, for me, is the burning question: why now?

Personally, I think we should just put some Prozac in the water and forge ahead. Diversity defines America --- indeed the whole planet --- and if we are going to succeed in the future we'd better get a grip.



Correction:
I just realized that I put the wrong link in above under the words "diversity creates depression and hopelessness." I meant to link to the right wing columnist who wrote this, thus illustrating how the data are going to be used to justify their racism --- just as they always find some good reason to justify it:

When an academic "discovers" what ordinary mortals have known for eons, it's called science.

Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam has found that diversity is not a strength, but a weakness; the greater the diversity in a community, the greater the distrust. Professor Putnam's five-year study was reported last year by the Financial Times and is finally percolating down to others in the media and across the blogosphere.

In diverse communities, Putnam observed, people "hunker down": They withdraw, have fewer "friends and confidants," distrust their neighbors regardless of the color of their skin, expect the worst from local leaders, volunteer and car-pool less, give less to charity and "agitate for social reform more," with little hope of success. They also huddle in front of the television. Activism alternates with escapism, unhappiness with ennui.

Trust was lowest in Los Angeles, "the most diverse human habitation in human history," a finding the "progressive" Putnam, who hangs out at Harvard, found perplexing. Almost as predictable is the manner in which these straightforward, sad findings are being misconstrued by puzzled pundits or pressure groups accustomed to maligning You Know Who.

The Commission for Racial Equality hasn't heard a word Putnam has said. "Separateness is becoming more entrenched in parts of our society," they warned ominously, in response, and hastened to rededicate themselves to "encouraging people from different communities to meet and understand one another."

Putnam, of course, said nothing about misunderstanding or roiling conflict. Diversity triggered not racial hostility but "anomie or social isolation," as he put it.

Writing for City Journal about the sad settings that Putnam excavated statistically, John Leo also introduced an error: "Social psychologists have long favored the optimistic hypothesis that contact between different ethnic and racial groups increases tolerance." Putnam makes it abundantly clear that he found no evidence of "bad race relations, or ethnically defined group hostility."

Rather, diversity generates withdrawal and isolation. The thousands of people surveyed were not intolerant, bigoted or even hostile; they were merely miserable. This is mass depression, the kind associated with loss, quiet resignation, and hopelessness.

Other perplexed pundits fingered multiculturalism and the failure to assimilate. Again, this is not what Putnam has unraveled. Not a word did he say about whether newcomers in the 41 U.S. localities studied fly Old Glory or are proficient in English – or whether these mattered at all. He merely examined the impact on trust and sociability of racial and ethnic diversity, only to find that it messes equally with men, women, conservatives, liberals, rich and poor. (He does concede that "the impact of diversity is definitely greater among whites.") There is nothing to implicate assimilation or lack thereof.


So this right winger believes that the study proves what she's always known: it's better to live among your "own." (Say, does anyone know where the Greek-Dutch enclaves are? I'm so unhappy...)

Also -- In the last paragraph, I did not mean to suggest that the study was wrong --- and I clarified that in the comments --- but rather that I wondered why this latest bit of uncomfortable diversity would result in a withdrawing from civic life, when earlier waves of the exact same "discomfort" did not. I'm genuinely curious as to why it has had this result now when it is obvious that these problems would have existed, in big cities at least, forever.



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