Doral, Florida - The most prominent research university on the South Side of Chicago has recently launched a new Department to study Race, Diaspora and Indigeneity: https://rdi.uchicago.edu/. This is not a classical subject of study, but when it comes to advancing knowledge, it is good to keep an open mind.
According to this Department’s web site, this university had been wrestling for over 25 years with the question of creating an academic unit for the study of “race and its allied concepts or related topics.” Then in the summer of 2020, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis from a drug overdose while in police custody, See: https://glennloury.substack.com/p/derek-chauvin-did-not-murder-george, sparked a perceived need to create such a unit, which was done in 2022. Of course, no one killed (much less murdered) George Floyd, a career thug and drug addict, except himself by taking a large overdose of drugs, and maybe also his father who abandoned him. Nothing like launching a new project based on a hoax!
The creation of this Department included input from faculty, students and administrators, but none from trustees, alumni, parents or donors. Education is too important to be left to the educators. Not only students and their parents, but also alumni, trustees and donors, should monitor the doings of faculty and administrators on college and university campuses.
In addition, this Department pretends to engage in something called “Latinx Studies,” while Latinos overwhelmingly reject this term, and consider its use a cultural insult by ignorant and arrogant woke progressives. “Mojones” is the term for those progressives in Spanish.
Diversity, Equity and Incompetence
This Department is also part of the expansion of DEI—Diversity, Equity and Inclusion -- principles at this university. DEI is a woke progressive ideology, an updating of Affirmative Action, which requires admitting, hiring and promoting people not in accordance with their academic excellence and merit, but in accordance with their ethnicity, sex and ideology.
For example, how was it that Claudine Gay, former President and Dean of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and still a tenured professor of political science there, was hired for those positions? It was done in accordance with DEI principles, and not for any exceptional merit, academic excellence or administrative dexterity. Instead, she is an academic lightweight, having published very little, and her publications were shown to be replete with plagiarism and data obfuscation. She also did not stand against anti-semitism at her Congressional hearing or on campus, apparently having a minimal moral compass as well.
Other examples of incompetent people promoted in accordance with DEI principles to positions for which they are not qualified include: (1) a Vice President of the United States who is not even black nor African, had to drop out of the presidential primaries before voting even started, and speaks in convoluted language; (2) an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court who in her nomination hearing would not answer the question: “What is a woman?” and (3) a White House Press Secretary who fails to engage questions and conducts a daily comedy show.
These people form part of what Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, has called the “Mediocrity Mafia” produced by DEI principles. No wonder that Carol Swain, a former professor of political science at Princeton and Vanderbilt, and a grievous victim of Claudine Gay’s plagiarism, has sent a legal demand letter seeking reparation for her stolen property.
What if the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra were selected in accordance with DEI principles? Who could stand to listen to that? Classical music is a testament to universal principles of beauty and harmony, transcending ethnicity, sex and ideology. Same with flying airplanes and practicing medicine, right?
This university has always insisted on students and faculty who pursue academic excellence and merit, regardless of sex, ethnicity or religion (or athletic or artistic ability). It was co-ed from the start, and did not have a separate women’s college, like Radcliffe at Harvard and Barnard at Columbia. This university was known for welcoming bright Jewish students who found no room in the Ivy League.
Thomas Sowell, an alumnus of this university and another fellow at the Hoover Institution, has observed: “What are the alleged ‘compelling’ benefits of ‘diversity’? They are as invisible as the proverbial emperor’s new clothes.” Some people benefit, like some 500 DEI commissars at the University of Michigan earning a total of over $30 million in aggregate annual salaries.
Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church in the South Side of Chicago says: “This DEI ideology is profoundly flawed, has no impact upon us, and creates more racial divisions….I laugh out loud when I hear DEI advocates describe merit and punctuality as white supremacist values.” See: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1744782233687470514.html.
Fortunately, it seems that DEI principles are in retreat not only in academia, but also in business. See: https://thespectator.com/topic/code-red-dei-is-in-the-icu/; or Charles Lipson, DEI is in the ICU: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/code/FMfcgzGwJcXqtCrKQsKrllwSFqKbMklc. Nevertheless, you can probably think of DEI people at your school or place of work.
The creation of this Department represents a response to a faddish social narrative, and an effort by progressive faculty and administrators to impose their world view, while giving it a patina of academic rigor and respectability.
This Department proclaims that Race is not an empirical, genetic reality, but instead constitutes: “a social construct that defines differences and shapes relations among people.” If Race is not an empirical reality, an ethnicity or genetic code, but a social construct, then almost anything can be considered racist. It becomes a power play.
David Mamet, an American playwright, has proposed that Race is a delusion: https://unherd.com/2022/08/race-is-a-delusion/. Shelby Steele, a literary scholar, agrees: “Race was always a convenience, a way to avoid our universality….Race has nothing to do with your character. You give it the meaning you want to give it.” He also adds that: “Racism is over with. It has no legitimacy….Racism is not systemic, it is not structural. Our old enemy is gone. To fight it now is to avoid our real challenges.” See: https://www.city-journal.org/article/a-conversation-with-shelby-and-eli-steele. Steele has long argued that “systemic racism is more strategy than truth:” See: https://whatkilledmichaelbrown.com/. The claim of racism is used by progressives to invoke guilt among Americans, and thereby to demand that Americans atone for their guilt, by supporting woke progressive ideology.
More criticism of progressive dogma about Race comes from talk show host Larry Elder, a producer of the documentary “Uncle Tom.” See: https://www.amazon.com/Uncle-Tom-Chad-Jackson/dp/B08KGVXV2V. Elder observes: “And what the welfare state has done, in my opinion, is incentivize black women to marry the government, and allow men to abandon their financial and moral responsibilities to their families.” President Johnson’s War on Poverty for a Great Society starting in 1965 laid the foundation for this development.
Pastor Brooks adds: “The systemic racism that my community faces is not white supremacy, but post-60’s liberalism….Man-in-the-house rules broke apart too many families. Our schools produced far too many illiterates. For decades, our culture rewarded black deviancy shown on countless of @BET rap videos. The only way too many of our children know how to buy food is with Uncle Sam’s dollar. Instead of embracing freedom and responsibility, too many of us allowed ourselves to be seduced into the culture of dependency.”
Reverend Martin Luther King asked that his children be judged not by the color of their skin (an empirical reality), but by the content of their character (another empirical reality). Of course, it should surprise no one that people of bad character insist on being judged instead by the color of their skin.
Booker T. Washington, American educator, observed at the Atlanta Exposition in 1895 that: “No race that has anything to add to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized.” Today Pastor Brooks is building a vocational school to teach people marketable practical skills so that they can support themselves and their families, without depending on the welfare state or street crime. See: https://www.projecthood.org/. As they say in his church, the best hood is fatherhood.
In any event, the American constitutional republic provides opportunities for persons of all races, skin colors and ethnicities, so long as they have the courage, work ethic and self-discipline to make a go of it. See: https://miamiindependent.com/juneteenth-is-a-grand-republican-holiday/. One of the best examples of American perseverance is the Negro Leagues, 1920-50, which succeeded despite the racist antagonism, and forced baseball to open its ranks to talent and merit. As the Reverend King might have put it, they made America live up to the promise of its creed.
This Department considers that allied concepts and topics related to Race include Diaspora and Indigeneity. So, it proposes that a Diaspora is: “formed through a process of migration and collective meaning-making.” For example, South Florida is home to a Diaspora of refugees from progressive socialist governments in Latin America. This Diaspora stands as living empirical evidence of the failure of such governments and their policies. See: https://miamiindependent.com/the-spirit-of-59-and-the-free-state-of-florida/, and https://miamiindependent.com/cuban-privilege-in-america-is-real/. The collective meaning-making of this Diaspora includes a heightened awareness of threats to liberty by those who would fundamentally transform the America to which they immigrated.
Why is it that in America there is also a Diaspora of black, Sub-Saharan Africans, voluntary immigrants, from the Caribbean and Africa itself, when woke progressives and racist grievance-mongers claim that America is structurally, institutionally and systemically racist? And not only black folks, but also colored people of all complexions. See: https://legalinsurrection.com/2023/12/if-america-is-as-systemically-racist-as-the-left-claims-why-are-millions-of-minorities-crossing-our-border/. People vote with their feet, so why are all these people of color volunteering to immigrate to America? Maybe America is not so racist? Maybe Shelby Steele has a point? Claudine Gay and Ayaan Hirsi Ali both belong to this Diaspora.
America has another Diaspora, different from the foregoing, of black, Sub-Saharan Africans, involuntary immigrants, whose ancestors were brought as slaves between 1619 and 1808, when the federal government ended the Atlantic slave trade. They, together with American Indians, represent the only two peoples who did not immigrate to America voluntarily.
Some of the ancestors of the people in the voluntary Diaspora may have enslaved and sold the ancestors of the people in the involuntary Diaspora. The people in the involuntary Diaspora may have a claim for reparations, but not those in the voluntary Diaspora, who may be liable to pay reparations themselves, for the role of their ancestors in the Atlantic slave trade.
The key to success in America for every Diaspora is what Pastor Brooks calls: “The American principles: Be on time. Say, yes sir, no sir. Respect your elders. Be responsible. Be accountable. Save money. Build credit. Plan for the future. Be a parent. Get married. You fall, get back up. Never give up. Just do it.”
In America, most Diasporas wind up assimilating and disappearing over time, as is happening with immigrants from Latin America. America is not perfect, but America does not have to be perfect in order to be great, and America is great, as evidenced by all the people seeking to immigrate here.
This Department defines Indigeneity as: “the categorization and self-identity of people dwelling on a given territory that has been subjected, often violently, to occupation or settlement.” So, for example, for over 3,000 years the Jews have been the indigenous people of Judea, Samaria, Galilee and the Golan Heights, with their capital in Jerusalem; not Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and the Sinai Peninsula. See: https://miamiindependent.com/latinos-for-israel/. They have seen their homeland conquered violently by a succession of empires -- Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks and finally British -- before they regained sovereignty of a portion of their homeland in 1948. Today it is the Jihadists who are the occupiers and settlers on the Jewish homeland.
Franz Fanon objected to French imperialism and colonialism in Algeria and the rest of North Africa from 1830 to 1962, but Algeria had been subjected to Arab Muslim imperialism and colonialism since the VIIth century. During that time, Algeria had become a base for Mediterranean pirates and corsairs. Miguel Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote,” was imprisoned as a galley slave for five years before he was ransomed back to civilization by a Christian order. See Mozart’s opera “An Italian Girl in Algiers.” The United States Navy and Marines had to rescue American sailors enslaved in North Africa during the early 1800’s. Vive l’Algerie francaise! The Gauls in what is today France, and the Iberians in what is today Spain and Portugal, may have thought the same as Fanon about the conquering Romans.
Indigenous people often failed to keep up with advances in science and technology. Why didn’t the indigenous people of North America sail the Gulfstream current from Miami Beach to Cornwall, England, where they could have enjoyed the best food in that country outside London? See: https://miamiindependent.com/columbus-day-is-a-grand-american-holiday/. Their ignorance and inactivity should not hold back more energetic peoples.
The National Park Service recently considered removing the statue of William Penn from Welcome Plaza in central Philadelphia, in order to highlight the culture, history, traditions and perceptions of the American Indians who lived there before Penn’s arrival. The NPS discussed their project with representatives of the Delaware tribe over an online conference, instead of using authentic means of communications from the culture before Penn’s arrival. The Declaration of Independence tells us about that culture, when it charges that King George III: “has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” Thank God that culture has failed and is gone, replaced by a more energetic and innovative culture. Where would immigrants flee to form their Diasporas without America?
The Art Institute of Chicago has posted a “Land Acknowledgment” on its web site. See: https://www.artic.edu/about-us/mission-and-history/land-acknowledgment#. This statement constitutes a product of progressives thrall to the myth of the noble savage.
Academia Delenda Est!
The academics who perpetrated the creation of this new Department rank as the Samuel Bankman-Frieds of academia, having foisted off a huge hoax on the business of advancing and transmitting knowledge. High school students and their parents appear to have figured out that much of academia is a hoax. Since peaking in 2011, college enrollment is down 1.2 million.
In any event, this academic unit should not have been designated a full Department, like Economics, History or Biology, which are classical subjects of study. Instead, it should have been designated a Committee, like the Committee on Social Thought, and it should have had the term “Studies” attached, so calling it: the “Committee on Race, Diaspora and Indigenous Studies.” What can you do with that degree? Become a DEI commissar? Maybe not any more!
What does this Department add that is not already covered by other departments? A sense of grievance, concocted by progressives to exploit divisions with respect to these topics. Progressive grievance-mongers seeking to undermine and fundamentally transform America exploit these divisions, and now they have another platform in academia.
My wife and I recently attended a reunion of graduates from the undergraduate college in this university, and we found that the intellectual fermentation continues. See: https://miamiindependent.com/jonathan-turley-and-larry-krasner-debate-at-college-reunion-in-uchicago/. However, eternal vigilance is the price of excellence.
Today universities in America stand in a position similar to that of monasteries during the reign of King Henry VIII of England: rich, corrupt and complacent. Do not be surprised if their endowments are taxed, their government loans and other financial aid to students are terminated, and the funding of their research and other activities is much reduced. If this university needs to reduce expenses, See:
https://chicagomaroon.com/40872/news/expect-growing-pains-university-presentation-reveals-severe-financial-pressures/, and also: https://chicagomaroon.com/40486/news/uchicago-professor-sounds-alarm-over-troubling-university-finances/, it could start with eliminating this Department and the DEI commissariat.