aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Critiquing Diversity

The Diversity Training was mostly painless. I was sitting next to Jessi and LaJo (old friends) and told them that if I started to make a horse's patoot out of myself, they had permission to hit me, but there was no need. The face-to-face meeting wasn't near as irritating as the on-line indoctrination. After we were dismissed, I had lunch out with Jessi and Sam, which was great.

So, what's my beef with diversity? Actually, none. I've even lectured on the subject myself at National Camping School. My beef with most courses, including this one, is their theoretical base. I don't like Critical Theory Sociology (a.k.a. Neo-Marxism). I don't believe in False Consciousness and I don't approve of manipulating people using shame.

To explain: Critical Theory says that the group, not the individual, is the fundamental building block of society and that all groups are in conflict over the resources of the society. It's a zero-sum game: every win for my group is a loss for your group, etc. All alliances are tactical only, you have no permanent friends. Anything which one group does to secure resources for its group is right; "ethics" is only the imposition of values favoring the dominant group foisted upon all other groups. When a member of one group gives up an advantage in favor of another group because he or she has been told that that's "fair," then he or she is exhibiting False Consciousness (called in this course "internalized oppression"). Anything that gives up a resource to another group is a loss to you and your whole group, and is always wrong.

The problem with this, of course, is that you have people telling the participants -- especially those who are white or male, which was most of us -- that it is only fair that they should yield some of their privileges to include those who belong to other groups. That's the ethical thing to do, they say. But according to their own theory, if someone in a dominant group yields resources by agreeing that other groups should have resources they currently control, they are as guilty of False Consciousness and betraying their group as someone from a subordinate group would be who accommodates the existing power structure (an "oreo" or "apple" -- someone who is black or red on the outside, but white on the inside). So the white or male people are being petitioned to do what Critical Theory says is an unethical act. To accede to the petition is to become a dupe of others. And don't think that they'll respect you for it. You have given up your birthright for a mess of beans -- according to Critical Theory.

Now, I think all of this a farrago of nonsense. I believe in fairness and inclusivity and the Golden Rule. But then, those terms, for me, are defined in their natural senses and not filtered through the Critical Theory/Neo-Marxist stuff. On the other hand, I know people who truly believe every bit of it, and treat people accordingly. I've learned, to my cost, not to trust them.

In the on-line training, there was also a rather blatant bait-and-switch. We were told to mark items with black or red dots (or both). One color was used to identify things we believed other people believed about certain groups. The other color was to identify things we ourselves believed about certain groups. At the conclusion of this exercise, we were told that the purpose of this was to reveal to us our hidden prejudices, since people are more likely to admit to prejudices if they ascribe them to others. Now, every dot I placed saying that I believed others believed such-and-such was associated with a particular memory, a face, an occasion. I was doing what I was told to do, with as careful a recall as I could muster. To be told that all of these were evidence that I felt that way but didn't feel free to admit it made me mad like I can't tell you. I felt insulted.

Finally, I did not appreciate how I was "invited" to this training. In 36 years of being on the receiving end of Conference communications, I have never seen such an arrogant missive. And on top of it all, I had thirty bucks extorted from me to participate, when we have plenty of people in the Conference perfectly capable of doing this training without paying an outside vendor.


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