Andy Rutledge

Social Fail:Design’s Cult of Diversity

November 26, 2012 | By Andy Rutledge

From the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, many America-dwelling citizens believed and sometimes even built their commercial interests upon a particularly despicable and provably false idea: that the qualitative and moral measure of a human being was indicated primarily by the color of his or her skin. After the abolition of slavery and further poignant and even heroic efforts to fight against and correct the political left’s institutional canon [1], some Americans still hold with that idea. Some of them are designers.

Established sometime in the 1920s, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (the Nazi Party) had as one of its foundational ideals the notion that the qualitative and moral measure of an individual was indicated primarily by his or her ethnic heritage. Despite the provably false nature of that sentiment as well as the righteous military defeat of the political movement that most conspicuously espoused it, some even in America still hold with that idea. Some of them are designers.

Those who today most conspicuously hold with these despicable ideas are the ones who participate in vocal and animated fashion in the deceptive call for “diversity” in societal makeup…and in the design profession. The basis for their contention with what they call the “status quo” (despite the misnomer, an ever-changing and indefinable criterion useful for demagogues) is that the qualitative and moral measure of a group, event, or institution is based primarily or entirely on the skin color and gender of those present (e.g. white and/or male). By some sad but appropriate coincidence, this is the same qualitative measure used by early American slave owners and Nazis. [2]

According to some otherwise respected and conspicuous individuals in the design profession, if a group, an event, or institution is composed completely or even mostly of Caucasian males, it is a deficient, immoral, backward, exclusionary, pugnacious, or even evil assembly…according to whichever individual is weighing in on the topic. Their professed logic: the skin color and gender of the participants determines the quality of the group. Nevermind the fact that the people who showed up are the people who chose to show up, we are nonetheless invited to believe that such supposedly bigoted groups should—not by individual choice, but by quota—include people of other genders and skin colors…to be made qualitatively better because of the resultant diversity of skin color and gender.

Upon this racist, sexist foundation, the cult of diversity builds its church. It’s a church open to all who agree to sacrifice their morality and dignity. Won’t you come? Many do.

Reference

You could probably use some context. The issue that inspired this essay was the publication of Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s article, Universal Design IRL, which appeared recently in A List Apart. The article was in many ways a cogent and poignant look at issues that might well be considered and addressed by our community. The premise of this article, however, was a racist and sexist non sequitur that prompted a rare comment from me (I almost never write blog comments). As I could have reliably predicted, there then erupted a distorted and ignorance-based social media kerfuffle that took me to task for ideas I had neither expressed nor claimed.

I was blindly labeled and repeatedly called (and re-repeated, and retweeted) a racist and misogynist. All because I took issue with a racist and sexist premise for an article…that proclaimed diversity as the qualitative measure of any gathering, group, or institution. It’s important to note that my supposed crime had nothing to do with racism or sexism, but rather was the act of criticizing the cult of diversity. I therefore fully expect that this essay will earn me a life sentence.

Why is this an issue for designers?

You may recall that in my treatise, Design Professionalism, I cited the fact that among the characteristics of a profession is the requirement for professionals to have a capitalist morality. It does, of course, help if one has an understanding of what capitalism actually is. In any event, specifically I said in my professionalism treatise:

The responsibilities inherent to the practice of a profession are impossible to rationally maintain without a moral foundation that flows from a recognition of the singular right of the individual to his own life, along with all of its inherent and potential sovereign value; a concept that only capitalism recognizes, upholds and protects.

This requisite standard conflicts with the ethos and morality of the cult of diversity. Because if you believe that you or anyone else is entitled to station or accomplishment or to someone else’s property, effort, or genius, no client can ever trust you to be a responsible steward of their business because you will at some point maintain you are entitled to their money without actually earning it in a mutually profitable exchange. That idea is the converse of the capitalist morality. It would, however, be consistent with the morality of the cult of diversity. Its morality is the same morality that says that it is immoral to live by your own effort, but moral to live by the effort of others; it is immoral to earn, but moral to mooch; it is evil to profit by achievement, but good to profit by sacrifice. It is the morality that proclaims that the men and women of achievement are examples of what is wrong with the world.

There is no room in the design profession for such a profane, destructive, and evil idea.

Divide and Conquer

The idea that says arbitrary diversity is better than the lack of diversity also says that your individual character, quality, morals, achievement, and dignity don’t matter. Only your skin color or gender matters. It says these racist and sexist ideals are the measure of what contributes to the quality of a group.

But according to whom?! These ridiculous and offensive ideas mean someone—individual or group—has placed themselves above the fray, calling the shots, establishing the value judgments without regard for objective morality or actually qualitative measures. It means that someone who wants to pull the strings regards others (not like them or beneath them) as things…to be arranged and toyed with. These cult members will never convincingly or rationally cozy up to the rather obvious fact that qualitative diversity comes from people who think differently, not from people who look differently.

Here’s an inescapable fact that too few people anywhere, even within the design profession, seem to recognize: deliberate efforts toward arbitrary or centrally planned diversity are always racist, sexist attacks on human dignity. That sort of effort is always focused on the imagined outcome, while the effect of the means is regarded as irrelevant. “I never intended that!” is the predictable, pathetic, and all-too-common cry of the blind diversity ideologue. Only the ends matter. No matter how many people are trodden upon, no matter how many are marginalized, no matter how many souls crushed or spirits cowed, no matter how many peoples’ dignity is destroyed—the only thing that matters is that we have X obedient people from each race, gender, and sexual orientation…or whatever arbitrary arrangement the cult of diversity decides.

That is not a beneficial, positive, or moral outcome. It is the racist or sexist conquest of the human soul.

“Affirmative Action” in whatever form it materializes is an insultingly inaccurate name for such a sinister mechanism. When you select someone for something based on the color of their skin, it is a racist attack on their dignity and sense of self worth. When you select someone for something based on their gender, it is a sexist attack on their dignity and sense of self worth. It is a contemptible, conceited message that proclaims: You are wholly incapable of doing for yourself and you therefore lack the ability to achieve what others can achieve on their own. Your selection is not based on ability or achievement or value, but instead on the fact that your skin is a certain color or you are of some specific gender, so you meet the quota qualification. Have a nice day.

Over the years I’ve had dear friends describe for me how their sense of accomplishment and self worth was destroyed after they were the “beneficiaries” of affirmative action policies. Both men and women and of different races have told me that as a result of their affirmative action selection, they now view every compliment, award, promotion, and accolade with suspicion.

These people will never again experience the joy of accomplishment. They will question every achievement, promotion, or recognition, rightly suspecting that it is a token table scrap arbitrarily bestowed for some agenda- or quota-driven reason…by someone or some group who holds the reins on an oxcart that these poor people unwittingly pull. Yes, they’re cattle; categorized, corralled, and utilized according to a racist or sexist agenda prosecuted by people who believe themselves better. This is your cult of diversity.

Design Conference Speakers and Events

Let’s bring this issue back toward the design profession for a moment. The people you watch and to whom you listen on stage at good industry conferences probably got there on merit and, therefore, probably have a worthwhile message to share. You should probably listen to them. They got there because they wanted to be there, believed their message warranted listening to, conquered their fears, and did the work required to win the spot on that stage.

Do you want to spend your very valuable time, money, and attention on someone who was selected not on merit and not because they want to be there, not because they conquered their fears or did the work required to qualitatively warrant selection…but because the organizers wanted a woman instead of a man, or because they wanted a Hispanic person instead of a Caucasian? That’s sexist or racist tokenism! It destroys peoples’ lives and dignity.

What does that sort of system have to do with anything valuable? How does the idea that someone’s skin color or gender indicates their value equate with quality or merit? To exclude or include someone because they have pink or black or brown or yellow skin is racism! To exclude or include someone because they have or do not have a penis is sexism! The only people who get something from this destructive central planning are the little tyrants who are arranging their obedient playthings around to their own satisfaction. It hurts everyone involved (except the community organizers)

Being and Nothingness

Yes, this is community organizing for the design industry. It is an effort that marginalizes and destroys the individual; individual dignity, individual quality, and individual will. Those who want to organize and control the aesthetic diversity of such events despise accomplishment and ability because these things obviate their power over groups and individuals.

This diversity-based community organizing is an effort that turns dynamic, bright, shining individuals into arbitrary categories, then into an indistinct mush of mediocrity: One voice for all! “Stuff your individual voice, WE speak for you now.”

This effort is deliberate. If perhaps irrational and blind, one could apologize for such immoral and destructive behavior by proclaiming, “They know not what they do.” But they do. This effort is deliberate. The cult of diversity wants everyone—every group, as they prefer to see them—that perceives some emotional barrier to reward to obtain receive all of their achievement and advancement by no other means than by coming to the cult of diversity for help …and by some happy happenstance, those who perceive no such barriers are obliged—under penalty of societal ostracism—to submit to the rule and whim of the cult.

Playing on emotions, most of which were fomented by the cult’s deliberate actions anyway, is the easiest means to slay the easiest prey: minorities. Minorities: another racist/sexist label perpetuated by those who seek power over others. Indeed, this is the primary liturgy of the cult of diversity, much involved with a continual wailing about the supposed current plight of minorities (and useful to the cult only so long as they are or believe they are minorities. Ahem!). What the cult wants to obfuscate is the fact that every one of these so-called minorities is a sovereign individual who can damn well do whatever he or she wants to do. But that concept is itself the primary fly in the cult’s ointment.

One of the primary messages of the cult of diversity is that due to their concern and sacrifice, you need no longer worry about merit and accomplishment. No need to try or strive or improve, you’ll get what others have earned without having to earn it yourself. The cult of diversity doesn’t try to facilitate the recognition of individual merit, but to destroy the very idea of merit. The cult of diversity doesn’t seek to champion the accomplishment of people, but to destroy the very idea of accomplishment. The cult doesn’t seek to raise self esteem or dignity, but rather to crush it. You don’t need these things, you see.

So the cult of diversity says: sacrifice your morals and sacrifice your dignity and then WE will do for you what you couldn’t possibly do for yourself. We’ll boost you up to supplant those of achievement and dignity…with you…because your gender or skin color is different from theirs. Behold; your victory!

Yes, the cult of diversity regards individual dignity as an affront to society. They believe individual dignity and achievement insults others by implication. And they wouldn’t want to be involved with something insulting, now would they?

While the penultimate motivation of the cult of diversity is to be freely able to treat people who are not like them as their little playthings, to be arranged according to their whim in their own personal dollhouse, their ultimate motivation is to destroy the individual and all morality along with it. This is their utopian society: the sovereign individual as the epitome of arrogance and evil, cowed and muzzled…and the indistinct, collective mush of mediocrity as the epitome of good and moral self sacrifice. Cowed and collared.

But when the individual disappears, all rational society and all morality disappear because objective morality is rooted only in the individual. The capable, willful, opinionated, unique, sovereign individual without a need or desire to go begging at the altar in the racist, sexist church of the cult of diversity is the single necessary pillar of society. When he or she is gone, so are we all.

You Are Sovereign

Man or woman, of whatever race, ethnic heritage, or sexual orientation: you are perfect just the way you are. You are a sovereign, valuable individual and the only one of your kind. You don’t need anyone’s permission or acknowledgement to forge your own path or to achieve whatever goals your ability and will can allow.

You are also the smallest minority on the planet. You are an individual. Anyone who claims to champion a “minority” cause and yet they discount individual earned achievement is trying to steal everything from you. Send them packing. When someone condescends to you and insults your character by assuming something about you based solely on the color of your skin or your gender or some other arbitrary category that motivates their bigotry, offer them your disdain…or perhaps a slap in the face…and go pursue your aims according to your own ambition, ability, and will.

You should be judged, criticized, rewarded, and admired according to the same criteria as every other individual on the planet, regardless of your race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. You don’t need or deserve to be shoved into a category and treated like a helpless incompetent and you certainly don’t need to be lumped into a heard and treated like cattle. That is an attack on your human dignity.

You are sovereign, and nothing outside of your own mind and physical capability can hinder your accomplishment.

If you’re a designer, don’t be a part of the industry that entertains, allows, or invites racist and sexist idolatry into the profession. The profession fails under that sort of corruption and you cannot exist within it if you hold with the cult of diversity’s destructive and abusive morality. But most of all, don’t you dare let someone destroy your dignity and rob you of your morals in exchange for something you know damn well you can and should earn.

Footnotes:

  1. The Republican Party was founded in opposition to slavery and The Democrats’ History of Racism
  2. The Racism of Diversity, by Peter Schwartz