Summary: Diversity is America's trendiest cultural ideal. Corporations alter their recruitment and promotion policies in the name of a diverse workforce. Universities apply new admissions procedures in the name of a diverse student body. Politicians call for institutions that mirror our diverse population.
But what its proponents have in mind when they cite the compelling importance of diversity, Peter Wood argues in this elegant and learned book, is not the diction ...show moreary meaning of the word -- variety and multiplicity; rather, they mean a new kind of regimentation that fixes people into artificial categories and dispenses rewards in proportion to the size and political muscle of social groups. Real diversity, he proposes, is far different from this impostor "diversity."
Wood begins his account by tracing the fate of one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s favorite images, the "single garment of destiny," and ends it ruminating on how "diversity" played into the fate of John Walker Lindh. Along the way, he shows how "diversity" has come to sprawl across politics, law, business, entertainment, religion, the arts, and especially higher education (where it has occasioned two Supreme Court decisions). Wood demonstrates that the "diversity" principle -- to the extent that it identifies people as, above all else, members of social groups and products of collective historical experience -- is profoundly at odds with America's older ideals of liberty and equality. Even those who are inclined to argue with his conclusions will enjoy his provocative case studies and his wicked sense of humor. ...show less