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Arnold Ahlert / Dec. 14, 2017

Toxic Tribalism

Democrats should be careful what they wish for. Tribalism requires purity, which in turn requires conformity.

Few things animate the American Left more than its ostensible commitment to diversity. Ostensible because the Left’s commitment to diversity is restricted to how leftists define the term. As two recent stories in New York City indicate, those restrictions can be quite problematic.

“Seven of the eight speaker candidates say they support Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s proposed measure to mandate audits of the city’s workforce, including the gender, race and sexual orientation of public employees,” the New York Post reports. “An eighth candidate supports data-gathering on only race and gender.”

Van Bramer, a councilman from Queens who described his coming out as gay as the “biggest moment of my life,” insists his working class roots and experience with LGBT candidates’ campaigns has given him the experience necessary to replace current leader and dedicated leftist Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Seemingly cut from an equally radical cloth, Van Bramer believes workplace audits would “shine a light” on the city’s commitment to diversity, or lack thereof. Thus, he seeks hiring “goals” implemented at city agencies. “Transparency is going to produce the change that we seek,” he insists.

The sole holdout in this effort is Queens Councilman Donovan Richards, who thinks the sexual orientation component of this agenda is a bridge too far. “We have concerns about unintentionally requiring employees to disclose their sexual orientation to their superiors,” stated Richards spokesman Jordan Gibbons.

Unintentional? Without required disclosures, the audits would be reduced to farce. With them, personal privacy is obliterated — in service to the “greater good.”

Katherine Franke, a Columbia Law professor and director of the school’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, adds another component of leftist lunacy to the mix. While rightly insisting such audits might be “unreliable” because some individuals don’t fit into a single racial category or some may not be ready to reveal their sexual identity to the public, she toes the transgender line, asserting that some city workers don’t identify as male or female. And while she believes audits might “document gross imbalances in some departments or in some parts of the hierarchy,” she also revealed their ultimate worthlessness, citing several studies that show “it’s not clear that having more women or people of color or gay people in leadership will result in policies that are nondiscriminatory.”

In other words, there is no evidence this kind of diversity confers special insight or wisdom on its beneficiaries.

Van Bramer remains undeterred. Despite the reality New York City already releases data that reveals some race and gender information, he believes orientation must also be part of the mix. Moreover he wants the audits to analyze salary history based on these factors. The orientation of workers in leadership positions would also be analyzed.

Bet on merit becoming the first casualty of this endeavor. “There’s simply no way that the pressure of audits does not have an impact on hiring and promotion decisions,” explains Manhattan Institute Fellow Heather Mac Donald, who also insists this waste of taxpayer money is belied by the reality that there’s already “enormous internal and informal pressures to hire by race and gender.”

Not race and gender. Everyone belongs to one or a combination of races, and with extremely rare exceptions, one gender or the other. What this is really about is what diversity has always been about for the Left: equality of outcome eviscerating equality of opportunity — and merit be damned.

And not just merit. Last week, an incident at a Fordham University campus coffeehouse revealed diversity of opinion is also viewed as a threat. Members of the Fordham University College Republicans were asked to leave Rodrigue’s Coffee House, a business run by another student club, when a volunteer insisted their presence violated the shop’s “safe space policy” — because they were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.

A video of the incident reveals a level of obnoxious self-righteous that has taken root on college campuses across the nation. “No one here wants people like you supporting our club,” the volunteer employee is heard saying. “I’m giving you five minutes.” When asked by one of the students what she thought the hats represented, she got even more distressed. “Fascism! Nazis!” she shouted. “You have three minutes.”

While this was occurring, the president of the coffee shop club handed the “offending” students a flyer outlining the shop’s “Safer Space Policy.” It states the following:

Do not make assumptions about someone’s gender, sexuality, race, class, or experiences. Be aware of your own identity, while being considerate of the personhood of your peers. Be mindful of the ways in which your words and actions impact others. Be aware of the boundaries of other’s space, physical or otherwise, and respect their consent. No racism — No sexism — No homophobia. If you feel that someone has transgressed this policy, we want you to feel comfortable confronting them or approaching a member behind the counter, who is available as a resource to assist you.

The hypocrisy is as stunning as it is predictable. It is clear the volunteer made a number of assumptions based on nothing more than the hats these students were wearing. “I didn’t make any noise,” one of those students, Aaron Spring, told Fox & Friends. “I wasn’t rude. I didn’t curse at anybody. I was just sitting enjoying a cup of coffee with friends.”

It doesn’t matter. Neither genuine tolerance nor common courtesy resonate with today’s social justice snowflakes.

Unfortunately for the snowflakes, Fordham University officials are having none of it. “There is no University safe space policy, nor one that excludes any members of the Fordham community from any public spaces on the basis of their political views,” campus spokesman Bob Howe said. He further explained the university is investigating the incident, adding, “Students who may have violated the university code of conduct will be met with the appropriate student conduct process.”

Whatever that process is, it is unlikely to remedy the Us vs. Them rot that forms the foundation of the progressive worldview. “Tribalism is one of history’s great destroyers,” writes historian Victor Davis Hanson. “Once racial, religious, ethnic, or clan ties trump all considerations of merit and loyalty to the larger commonwealth, then factionalism leads to violence, violence to chaos, and chaos to the end of the state itself.”

Hanson further explains that we have ignored the warning signals segregation and apartheid provided, and while political systems are strained by nepotism and favoritism, they “fail entirely under the far greater strain of tribalism — especially one that replaces toxic individual or familial prejudices with much more insidious, sweeping, and dangerous collective biases.”

New York’s City Council and Rodrigue’s Coffee House are but individual examples of entities that endeavor to institutionalize insidious, sweeping and dangerous collective biases, emboldened by a Democrat Party that remains firmly wedded to the identity politics it continues to believe is the surest path to unassailable power.

Democrats should be careful what they wish for. Tribalism requires purity, which in turn requires conformity. Many of today’s social justice “heroes” have little idea how quickly the slightest deviation from that conformity can make them tomorrow’s social justice pariahs — because diversity, as leftists understand it, epitomizes close-mindedness.

It doesn’t get more ironic than that.

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