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Book Review: The Diversity Delusion, by Heather MacDonald

Posted 2/9/2020

People sometimes suggest to me that I should teach at a law school if I no longer want to practice law. However, a little voice in my head has always told me that this would not be good for my blood pressure.  I don’t tolerate political correctness very well, and I’ve long suspected that today’s law schools are rife with it.


Now along comes Heather MacDonald and her book The Diversity Delusion to confirm my fears in spades. (Click the book cover to see this on—but don't forget to come back here and continue readings.)

MacDonald gives example after example of how the most famous universities in America have come to stifle freedom of speech and thought among students and faculty alike, in the name of combatting racism and promoting diversity.  


She has experienced this treatment herself, when as a visiting speaker to a university in California, she was met with demands that her talk be cancelled because she was a “notorious white supremacist fascist.” She is for course no such thing. What she had actually done that riled up some students so badly was to write a book called The War on Cops, propounding the extraordinary—at least, to the students—view that vast numbers of residents of high-crime minority neighbourhoods do not regard the police as enemies and would actually welcome more law enforcement.


The Diversity Delusion goes on to document how thoroughly entrenched the notion has become that America is a systemically racist and sexist society. This idea permeates not only the universities’ arts faculties, but also the so-called STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. And as the products of these schools graduate and move into the working world, corporate America too is being dragged into what one dissenter has called the “ideological echo chamber.”


Meanwhile, the reality is that never in history has there been greater opportunity for minority students to gain admission at esteemed institutions and workplaces—often at the expense of students whose marks were better but who lacked the right skin colour for preferential treatment.


MacDonald also discusses how so-called affirmative action is actually failing the very groups it seeks to help. Students who would probably succeed academically at colleges for which they qualified strictly on their own merits are often failing at the vaunted institutions that lower their standards to meet an arbitrary quota for “diversity” students.


None of this was really news to me. It has been occurring for decades. And I know it’s also occurring in Canada because I still get bulletins from my alma mater, the University of Toronto, and from the Law Society of Ontario, both of which seem to bend over backwards and spend vast amounts of money promoting “equity, diversity and inclusion”.


But it seems to me that the very familiarity of the problem is causing it to accelerate. University administrators no longer feel pangs of guilt at adopting racial quotas in their admissions policies. And the more we accumulate examples of professors who have gotten into trouble for speaking the truth, the fewer remain who are willing to voice their concerns.


 MacDonald therefore stands as a beacon of courage for having written this book. I hope it will help others find their voices to combat the rampant irrationality that now engulfs most university campuses.


Towards the end of the book, MacDonald does her readers another favour: she has included a chapter about a free-market alternative to universities, a company called Great Courses. It has been producing lecture series for 25 years, catering to consumer demand for genuine intellectual and cultural stimulation. I had heard of the Great Courses many years ago, but didn’t realize how immensely the company had grown. Thanks to MacDonald, I have now subscribed for a mere $10 per month to a service that gives me access to thousands of courses taught by a highly vetted team of excellent professors. I can stream the classes to my iPad and educate myself any time of the day or night. Oh, how I love technology and the marketplace.


Should I ever get the uncontrollable urge to teach law as I think it should be taught, I know where I will apply. It won’t be to a university.






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