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Diversity vs. Civility
by Hans Zeiger
23 February 2004

The new codes that ooze from the mouths of diversity trainers have little to nothing to do with kindness and courtesy and much to do with divisiveness and bigotry.

After a six-year legal battle, a school district near San Jose has settled a lawsuit brought by six homosexual students and the American Civil Liberties Union alleging anti-homosexual discrimination by paying out $1.1 million and beginning new mandatory diversity training programs for all students and staff in the school district. The district will also designate a "compliance coordinator" to investigate reports of anti-homosexual bias and to ensure that schools demonstrate favorable attitudes toward homosexuals.

In Colorado, state university students are required to undergo diversity courses and comply with diversity standards in order to maintain student group funding. The stifling of free speech and traditional morality that has ensued caught the attention of state legislators who are now demanding an end to campus diversity programs that violate the First Amendment and infringe on the right to "speak disapprovingly against certain sexual behaviors."

Diversity training, diversity monitoring, diversity policy enforcement, diversity weeks and assemblies and conferences -- all of it has become a burgeoning multi-million dollar growth industry. Besides that, it is rapidly dividing America.

The intentions of diversity program advocates are quite good -- they seek the final salvation of human beings from the discomfort of discrimination. But they've gone about it all in a pathetically foolish way.

Instead of talking about civility and character as did Martin Luther King, diversity trainers talk about sensitivity -- toward racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual minorities only. And in place of the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," it is as if we're told to say, "Do unto minorities as they would have them do unto you," even if our only account of a minority group's expectations comes from the mouth of the diversity trainer. 

Several years ago, a Pacific Lutheran University professor named Gregory Guldin formulated what I called the Guldin Rule. Guldin drafted a report for the Puyallup (Washington State) School District (from which I graduated) recommending that it reject the idea of treating all people equally. Minorities, he asseverated, deserve special rights and treatment.

After a long lawsuit battle in the Puyallup School District featuring such dissimulations as the Guldin Report, the Puyallup Schools decided last year to pay out $7.5 million to black families who alleged that the district discriminated against racial minorities. The district also began a new half million dollar per year "Diversity Office" aimed at investigating alleged discrimination, requiring diversity curricula and diversity assemblies in schools, and mandating staff diversity training.

One diversity film called "Journey to a Hate Free Millennium" was shown at Puyallup High School my junior year with the goal of eradicating discrimination. But instead of a positive message about love and dignity, the film negatively linked three isolated "hate crimes" to widespread homophobia and racism. And instead of criticizing the Columbine killers as hate criminals, it was their peers who became the bad guys for not being tolerant of Klebold and Harris' Satanic lifestyle.

From the time I was in ninth grade until I graduated from high school, I fought against the proliferation of my school district's diversity program, which now is a suppurating effort, whether intentional or not, to dismantle traditional codes of respect and civility. The new codes that ooze from the mouths of diversity trainers have little to nothing to do with kindness and courtesy and much to do with divisiveness and bigotry.

My purpose in fighting diversity programs is that I care deeply about civility, character, and the dignity of my fellow human beings; and I care nothing for the opposite of civility: political correctness. Diversity is nothing more than a code word for extreme political correctness, which, in its typical forms these days, means that everyone must tolerate and accept and even celebrate any and every behavior under the sun.

Convincing several thousand diversity program-saturated industries and institutions that their politically correct ways are actually dangerous is no small task. But it can and must be done.

Hans Zeiger is a Seattle Times columnist and conservative activist. He is president of the Scout Honor Coalition and a student at Hillsdale College in Michigan

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