I found this, from UnHerd’s Arif Ahmed, interesting: How our universities became sheep factories. But the author misses a major point. Excerpts, with my comments, follow.
My own university, Cambridge, wants academic staff to undergo “race awareness” training. This advises you to “assume racism is everywhere”. Attendees are also reminded that “this is not a space for intellectualising the topic”. You might have thought “intellectualising” — ie thinking about — it is the kind of thing Cambridge academics should do. But don’t feel bad about getting that wrong; or at least, don’t feel bad about feeling bad: we are also told that these sessions aim at “working through” the feelings of shame and guilt that you might have on your journey in “developing an antiracist identity”.
It isn’t just Cambridge and St Andrews. There is anti-racism or “unconscious bias” training being offered to, or more likely thrust upon, staff and/or students at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Goldsmiths, KCL, Liverpool, Oxford Medical School, Sheffield, Solent, Sussex and doubtless hundreds of other universities and departments across the country.
Here’s what’s unsaid: How many members of the academic staff pushed back on this requirement? How many simply said “No, I will not comply?” Tenured professors are, sadly, almost impossible to get rid of, but this is a case where that near-invulnerability might be properly exercised. “No,” is the correct answer. “This is horseshit, and I will not attend, not now or ever. I will not comply.”
Now imagine being a clever, white 18-year old, not at all racist and not at all privileged either, away from home for the first time, in a lecture or class in (say) sociology, or politics, or philosophy, where a lecturer asserts, perhaps quite aggressively, that white people are inherently racist. Your own experience screams that this is wrong. But do you challenge it? Of course not – after all, it may have, and could certainly be presented as having, the effect of “marginalising minority groups”; and your own institution has told you, through formal training and via its website, that this is racism and we must all stand up to it.
So you keep quiet. So does everyone else; and the lie spreads. Repeat for white privilege, or immigration, or religion; perhaps also, given similar training and encouragement, for abortion, or the trans debate, or… Repeat for a thousand students a day, every day, for the whole term.
It’s been a long time since I was eighteen – that would have been in 1979 – but I remember myself as being a stubborn, willful, pig-headed little shit. Sort of like I am now, but with less gray hair. I was a little older when I attended university, had some military experience under my belt, and would probably have been even more obstreperous had I been pushed to attend such a bullshit class. Granted, hindsight is always 20-20, but I’ve always known myself pretty damn well. I think my answer would have been “No. This is horseshit, and I will not attend, now or ever. I will not comply.”
But bringing in diversity training because racism still exists is like prescribing leeches because people still get headaches. As hundreds of studies attest, it just doesn’t work. It may even exacerbate existing prejudice. Making this training compulsory is especially likely to be counterproductive. A 2016 study of more than 800 US firms finds that:
five years after instituting required training for managers, companies saw no improvement in the proportion of white women, black men, and Hispanics in management, and the share of black women actually decreased by 9%, on average, while the ranks of Asian-American men and women shrank by 4% to 5%. Trainers tell us that people often respond to compulsory courses with anger and resistance-and many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups afterward.
Not the point. The “diversity” and “anti-racism” industry isn’t about education, or tolerance, or opportunity, or anything else of the sort. It’s about graft. These people, these purveyors of “anti-racist” twaddle, make big bucks promoting and delivering this “training.” They not only don’t care if it makes things worse; they want to make things worse. Making things better would cut off the gravy train. Mr. Ahmed doesn’t mention that. But that doesn’t make it any less true.