Di­ver­sity ad­ver­sity

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

“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 [. . .] has con­cluded just the op­po­site. Har­vard po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Robert Put­nam [. . .] 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 [. . .] found that vir­tu­ally all mea­sures of civic health are lower in more di­verse set­tings.

“His find­ings on the down­sides of di­ver­sity have also posed a chal­lenge for Put­nam, a lib­eral aca­demic whose own val­ues put him squarely in the pro-di­ver­sity camp. Sud­denly find­ing him­self the bearer of bad news, Put­nam has strug­gled with how to present his work.”

— Michael Jonas, writ­ing on “The down­side of di­ver­sity,” Aug. 5 in the Bos­ton Globe

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