Right Opinion

Redefining Diversity

Burt Prelutsky · Jul. 16, 2018

At one time, not that long ago actually, diversity meant variety. What’s more, it usually referred to opposing points of view, not to pigmentation. In recent years, that has all changed.

According to those who insist that our borders, along with ICE, disappear entirely, diversity means more and more Latinos, even though they already constitute the largest minority group in the U.S. You’d think they’d be calling for more Finns and Eskimos if diversity was really the ideal they claim it to be.

Diversity, according to those promoting greater numbers of blacks and Latinos on college campuses through affirmative action, a prejudicial policy that is antithetical to everything Americans used to hold dear, inevitably comes at the expense of Asians, who actually represent a much smaller minority group than the other two.

The fact is, a black applicant with the exact same grade point average and test scores as an East Indian or a South Korean has a four times better chance of being accepted.

Proof of that was established when an Asian student decided to beat the system by passing himself off as black; he got in with a 3.1 GPA when 3.7 would have been required if he’d identified himself as an East Indian.

The way things are headed, the day may soon arrive when the only true diversity on college campuses will be represented by white males.

In a related matter, it seems that, in spite of the brouhaha being waged by liberals against President Trump over his immigration policy, his approval numbers among native-born Latinos jumped 10 percentage points in the past month.

It seems that in spite of the outrage among those on the far Left, it’s only number five on the priority list of those one might assume to be most concerned. Among native-born Latinos, it trails jobs, the economy, health care, and education, which reflects the way that most Americans think.

In addition, it should not be assumed that even those who have it in fifth place want the borders open. Many of them want the wall built because the interlopers are lowering their wages and overwhelming their schools and medical clinics.

For the longest time, I used to defend TV against those who deemed it a vast wasteland by pointing out that, whatever its other failings, it provided us with most of the best comedy to be found in America.

Occasionally, a movie, a Broadway show, or a book would come along that could make us laugh. But even in the earliest days of the medium, TV was offering us the best of Jack Benny, Sid Caesar, Steve Allen, Jackie Gleason, Phil Silvers, Eve Arden, Bob Hope, Jack Paar, George Burns, and Gracie Allen on a weekly basis. And if you tuned in Ed Sullivan on Sunday evening, you would occasionally catch the likes of Alan King, Don Rickles, Jackie Leonard, Shelley Berman, Gallagher & Sheen, Jan Murray, Henny Youngman, Jackie Mason, and Señor Wences.

In more recent times, so-called comedians like Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, along with late-night TV hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, and Jimmy Fallon, have turned into public scolds.

I guess it began with David Letterman, who never struck me as very funny, but along the way he grew a beard and at least when he wasn’t sexually harassing the females on his staff adopted the role of a left-wing pundit.

These days, the comics don’t even try to get laughs; instead, like Mort Sahl in the old days, they happily settle for nods of agreement from their bobble headed fans.

Inasmuch as garnering laughs seems to have vanished from the job description, it occurs to me that they shouldn’t be allowed to identify themselves as comedians on their tax returns.

I suspect that the day can’t be too far off when the laughter stops completely and the audience will simply show their appreciation by snapping their fingers the way beatniks used to do after some pretentious phony in a black turtleneck would recite a poem about the end of the world in a smoke-filled coffeehouse.

Speaking of my bleak expectations, inasmuch as the banishing of conservative speakers from college campuses and the public shaming of Trump’s aides is now perfectly acceptable to wide swaths of the fascistic electorate, how soon, I’m wondering, can we expect the book burning to begin?

Someone sent me the following quote: “The absolute worst mistake of my presidency was appointing Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court,” and attributed it to Abraham Lincoln.

Darrell Knowles of Salt Lake City, Utah, sent me a list that pointed out how things have changed for those of us who were in our 20s in the late 1960s and are now 50 years older.

Then, we had long hair. Today, we long for hair.

Then, we had acid rock. Today, we have acid reflux.

Then, we moved to California because it was cool. Today, we move to Florida because it’s warm.

Then, we hoped for a BMW. Today, we hope for a BM.

Then, we went to new, hip joints. Today, we’re in the market for new hip joints.

We went from disco to Costco and from the Rolling Stones to kidney stones in the blink of an eye.

You will often hear people say that there are two kinds of people when it comes to all sorts of things, but I think one of the great dividers is the one that exists between people who loved going to school and those of us who dreaded it.

My wife, a perfectly normal person in most ways, was one of the former. To hear her tell it, you would think that when she dies, she’ll be very disappointed if Heaven is not the spitting image of her high school back in Michigan.

It’s not that I don’t understand her attitude. After all, she was actively involved in every aspect of the school. If there was a prize to cop or an election to win, she copped it or won it.

Being male, I don’t think my own experience was all that uncommon. It wasn’t the work I minded so much because I was generally able to get decent grades, it was the confinement and the regimentation. It was having my life dictated by the ringing of bells that drove me nuts. It was a lot like prison, but without the colorful characters.

I still recall having pages in my grammar school notebook filled with lines denoting the days and hours that I would then scratch off as summer vacation approached.

One specific memory that still infuriates me was the way the minute hand on the wall clock would always back up slightly before moving forward, as if intentionally taunting me. There were days I was certain the minute hand never moved forward at all.

My disinclination to attend school began when I was five years old and we were still living in Chicago. One day, we were expected to skip around the room. I have no idea where the other kids had mastered the art, but off they all skipped. I tried running, but when the teacher told me to skip, the best I could do was walk quickly. Better, but still not good enough.

You can’t imagine how happy I was to get away from that hell hole when my parents announced shortly after my sixth birthday that we would be moving to Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, they also had grammar schools in California. Skipping, I was pleased to discover, was no longer a prerequisite. But ship-building was.

On the first day of the semester, the teacher gave us each three pieces of wood, a few nails, and a hammer. The idea was to nail one of the smaller pieces to the largest piece, and then nail the smallest of the pieces on top of the medium-sized one. And, just like that, you had a ship. It wouldn’t float, but you could take it home and show it to your proud parents, who were expected, I suppose, to place it on the mantel and brag about it to friends and relatives.

Unfortunately, I had never used a hammer or nails. I gave it a shot, but, unfortunately, I wasn’t any better at carpentry than I was at skipping. The second piece of wood didn’t line up neatly with the base. The teacher told me I would have to pry the two pieces apart and do a neater job. Unfortunately, because I had discovered I rather enjoyed the hammering part, the nails had been pounded so hard, their heads were below the surface of the wood.

I suggested the teacher give me two new pieces of wood, but as she was no doubt related to the teacher I had left behind in Chicago, she refused to give me any more lumber or any additional nails.

I don’t recall what else I did that semester. I only recall spending a lot of time trying to pry the two pieces apart. Today, as an example of native art, it’s probably on exhibit in some rich person’s collection. What I do vividly remember was telling my parents that I wanted to quit school and find a job.

My next trauma occurred when I went to junior high and, like someone suffering from a witch’s curse, I found myself having to take wood shop. But unlike the first grade, I was now expected to expand my proficiency beyond mere hammers. The fools in charge of my education expected me to use electric tools.

Then, to ensure that my nightmares continued well into puberty, the gods decided that my shop teacher would be a man named Bailey, nicknamed “Fingers,” because he only had five digits — three on one hand, two on the other.

And they expected me to get within 10 yards of the bandsaw?! Surely they were kidding.

Even though it was obvious that I would never make a career out of furniture making, I wasn’t a troublemaker. But one day, perhaps I had been sanding too loudly, Mr. Bailey got very upset with me — me whose name he had decided early on was Vyshinsky — and he started shaking me. Between his shouting “Vyshinsky” in my face and being throttled by a man with just five fingers, it was so traumatic I’m surprised that today I can even bring myself to sit in a wooden chair.

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