Diversity Is Not Intrinsically Good Or Bad


Diversity Is Not Intrinsically Good Or Bad


Leonard Zwelling



There is something that I profoundly do not get. I do get the idea behind affirmative action. As I understand it, it is a means to create opportunity for people who have been historically disadvantaged in college admissions and job applications for reasons of race, sex, gender, or national origin. The reason for affirmative action is to create student bodies and a work force that look like America.

If someone in one of these historically underrepresented groups is given a deliberate advantage, the system disadvantages a white person. As long as everyone understands this and agrees that the use of affirmative action serves a worthy goal, then I guess it’s OK. The problem, of course, is that everyone doesn’t share these goals. That’s kind of what I do not get. How do we as a society come to a consensus on this issue?

Since the 1978 Bakke decision by the Supreme Court, quotas per se have been abandoned, but race could be used as a “plus factor” in college admissions. Of late, many people in higher education have been extolling the virtues of DEI—diversity, equity, and inclusion—in admissions. Diversity itself has become a core value at many places including my alma mater, Duke. The reason given is that a diversified student body will a priori lead to a diversified work force and that will be better for everyone according to academic leaders. The argument goes that Black patients feel more comfortable with Black doctors and women patients feel more comfortable with women doctors, so we need to produce more Black and women doctors. This is, in fact, occurring. Almost three-quarters of the most recent Duke medical school class are women.

The recent Supreme Court decision banning the use of race in admissions to elite colleges substantially puts an end to affirmative action and DEI. Recent legislation signed by the governor in Texas has eliminated the use of DEI in hiring. The one question I haven’t heard debated is whether or not DEI is good or bad for the country as a whole in its strategic, long-term goals of freedom, democracy, justice, domestic tranquility, and staying the essential nation in the world. That too is what I do not get.

The two op-eds in The Wall Street Journal on July 7 (above) make a compelling case that DEI, affirmative action, and identity politics could weaken us as a nation IF it leads to a less skilled and competitive work force, despite the liberal mainstream thinking that DEI has got to be a good thing. Why?

If it assures that the best, the brightest, and the most able get the best educations and rise to leadership positions that assure America’s future, then I’m all for DEI. If on the other hand, it disproportionally places people without the needed skills in roles for which they are unsuited, then it will weaken us as a nation.

It seems to me that this is the real measure of the value of affirmative action and DEI. Yes, these processes were needed to correct past wrongs, but the United States is in the fight of its life with foreign enemies who will stop at nothing to undo our democracy and democracies all over the world. The autocratic regimes in China, Russia, Iran, and to some extent Saudi Arabia seek to undermine western values and western capitalism and freedom. Yet, here we are educating the very people who will seek to harm us (from China) and doing it with one hand tied behind our back because of the tyranny of DEI.

Put me in the column that wishes to know whether DEI advances the missions of academic institutions and American companies or would these missions be best served by a more Darwinian approach to entrance to elite schools and to jobs without someone’s thumb on the scale. Besides, racial and gender injustice needs to be addressed in kindergarten, not college.

The American political leadership has yet to frame the DEI questions in terms of national strategy and it is essential that it does so. We need to do what’s good for the country, not worship at the knee of political correctness and be held hostage to identity politics.

DEI may be a worthy goal, but not to the detriment of national interests.

I’d really like to hear that debate during the next election cycle without the name calling, the inflamed rhetoric, the cries of racism, and the use of the word woke.

Dr. Zwelling’s new novel, Conflict of Interest: Money Drives Medicine and People Die is available at:


on amazon if you search using the title and subtitle, 


directly from the publisher Dorrance at: https://bookstore.dorrancepublishing.com/conflict-of-interest-money-drives-medicine-and-people-die-pb/m

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