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Opening Arguments

The way we are

Diversity isn't all it's cracked up to be:

IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.

It's only shocking if you keep doing studies in hopes that the world will eventually seem the way you think it should be instead of honestly looking at it the way it is. We have always felt more comfortable being around people who are more or less like us, and we always will. Just look at all the ethnic neighborhoods in Fort Wayne, including the ones of recent immigrants. We have now spent decades busing school children all over creation to "diversify" our schools, punishing them for our "sins" of living where we choose to live. After all that wasted time, effort and money, we still insist on committing the same sin.

I've lived on my block of Oakdale for more than 20 years, and it is in area of town that has become more diverse. I have neighbors who are black and Hispanic and everything else. But it happened naturally, people moving here because they wanted to and could afford the middle-class prices of the houses. We are all economically similar, which means we all know more or less where each other are in the journey of life, what challenges we have faced and what choices we have made. We are comfortable with each other, no matter where we came from to get here.

The great challenge today is to discover and cherish what we have in common despite our superficial differences such as language and skin color. The "diversity" movement does not help that search; it impedes it. 


Bob G.
Tue, 08/07/2007 - 9:49am