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Why Leftism Is Inherently Divisive and the Founders Were Right

“Diversity by its very nature is divisive.”   “When you celebrate diversity and point it out you split people.”

“But if you drown it out in a sea of commonality then it’s not a problem. So anything you can do to emphasize how similar we all are, how much we have in common, is good.” (1)(2)

This is an example of how the founders were social science geniuses and America’s founding principles are right.  The Constitutional concept of equality under the law  – one set of laws that applies, and is applied, the same for everyone –  drowns diversity in a sea of commonality.  The process-oriented concepts of negative liberty, justice, and fairness work similarly. 

The left’s outcome-based concepts of equality and positive liberty, justice, and fairness, on the other hand, “point out diversity and split people.”  Walter Williams’ concept of poker justice illustrates this:  If I play in a weekly poker game and lose every time the left tends to see the game as inherently unfair to me and in need of special rules to rig it so “historically disadvantaged” identity groups – in this case me – have a better chance of a positive result.  Having different rules for different people depending on their identity group is inherently unfair and unequal.

Progressivism/leftism/liberalism is “by its very nature divisive,” and therefore inherently counter to – arguably even mutually exclusive with – America’s founding principles.(3)  It’s this sort of idea that conservatives are expressing when they say liberals or liberalism are “Anti-American,” and one of the reasons why conservatives hold the Constitution in such high regard relative to liberals.(4)


(1) Jonathan Haidt, interviewed by Krista Tippet, at On Being, June 12, 2014, emphasis added. 

Dr. Haidt: Okay. So, you know, I grew up — I — I started at Yale in 1981, just as, uh, uh, diversity was becoming a major, major watchword of the left. And my entire academic career, it’s all been about diversity. Diversity this, diversity that. And what’s really meant by that is racial diversity. And then secondarily, gender diversity. Um, and claims are made for diversity, that it has all these benefits for thinking, it does all these great things. Um, but at the same time, what I’ve observed in my academic career, is when I started school in the ’80s, there were a few conservatives on the faculty. And now there are almost none.

So, we’ve reached the state that George Will described. He said there’s a certain kind of liberal that wants diversity in everything, except thought. And so, we do need certain kinds of diversity. But the key to remember is that, diversity by its very nature is divisive, and so, what’s the function of your group? If your group needs cohesion, you don’t want diversity. If your group needs good, clear thinking and you want people to challenge your prejudices, then you need it. So in the academic world, we need that kind of diversity, and we don’t have it. Um, that’s — that was part of my point.

Ms. Tippett: How does that help you analyze what might be done?

Dr. Haidt: Yeah, so, diversity is generally divisive. And it has to be managed. There is some interesting research showing that when you celebrate diversity and point it out, you split people. But if you drown it in a sea of commonality, then it’s not a problem. So, anything you can do to emphasize how similar we all are, uh, how much we have in common, is good. And if you celebrate — look at how different we are. Look at how diverse we are, that tends to make it harder…

(2) Jonathan Haidt, August 2005, The Believer magazine

“I recently wrote a paper on moral diversity, addressing the fact that many people, especially in academic settings, think that diversity is a virtue in itself. Diversity is not a virtue. Diversity is a good only to the extent that it advances other virtues, justice or inclusiveness of others who have previously been excluded. But people are wrong when they say that everything should be more diverse, even, say, rock bands. It’s an error, an overgeneralization.”

(3) The Democrats’ success depends on continuously promoting hostility between groups, by Mike Gonzalez, National Review, January 13, 2016  

Practiced on a national scale — and combined with a liberal academic’s understanding of Critical Theory’s plan to replace the values of the “dominant group” with the “counter-narrative” of “subordinate groups” — the project meant ensuring that different ethnic groups became politically active while remaining unassimilated.

(4) Patriotic Assimilation Is an Indispensable Condition in a Land of Immigrants, by Mike Gonzalez, The Heritage Foundation, January 8, 2016

Patriotic assimilation is the bond that allows America to be a nation of immigrants. Without it, America either ceases to be a nation, becoming instead a hodgepodge of groups—or it becomes a nation that can no longer welcome immigrants. It cannot be both a unified nation and a place that welcomes immigrants without patriotic assimilation. Over the past few decades, however, America has drifted away from assimilating immigrants. Elites — in the government, the culture, and the academy — have led a push toward multiculturalism, which emphasizes group differences.

The Founders worried that diversity could get in the way of national unity. Alexander Hamilton wrote that “the safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits.” Immigrants were welcome, but in the hope that, as Washington put it, they “get assimilated to our customs, measures, and laws: in a word, soon become one people.” Adherence to the universal principles of equality, liberty, and limited government contained in the founding documents, as well as to virtues that made a constitutional republic viable—like frugality, industry, and moderation—would bind Americans together regardless of origin.


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