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The Con of Diversity


The Con of Diversity

Chris Hedges

In 1970, when black students occupied the dean’s office at Harvard Divinity School to protest against the absence of African-American scholars on the school’s faculty, the white administration was forced to respond and interview black candidates. It asked James Cone, the greatest theologian of his generation, to come to Cambridge, Mass., for a meeting. But the white power structure had no intention of offering Cone a job. To be black, in its eyes, was bad enough.


Chris, you are a cynical em effer for sure, just like me. I too am a white bread “American” who understands the privileges to which we have been (unjustly) afforded. Keep speaking truth to power, my friend. Your voice is a national treasure.


Chris Hedges raises good points. It reminds me of Malcolm X’s discussion of House Negro vs. Field Negro. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TE3WYUVj4U

The plutocratic power is extremely efficient at divide and conquer. They are happy to put some non-whites into positions with a little more power in order to ensure social control. Thus, you see many in Border Patrol, ICE, and in charge of separating children are Latinxs.


Whether it’s wielded by a white hand or a black hand, a whip cause the same pain. Glen Ford’s famous pronouncement on Barack Obama (“He’s not the lesser evil, he’s the more effective evil”) acknowledeged this. It baffles me that some still cling to superficial “identity politics,” in spite of an overwhelming abundance of evidence that it simply doesn’t work as advertised.


I’m also reminded of Malcolm X saying "You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress … No matter how much respect, no matter how much recognition, whites show towards me, as far as I am concerned, as long as it is not shown to everyone of our people in this country, it doesn’t exist for me.”


In the political realm the grinding of ‘assimilationist’ gears date back to the papal bulls of the 15th century. Economic power and religion; the lofty heights of the regal types; the “noble” task of successfully converting the “savage” (note that this framework took the word originally meaning essentially ‘of the forest’ and projected its own barbaric framing to utterly negate in order to “assimilate”) is today recognized as ethnocide and failing conversion, sanctioned use - even orders - to kill entire peoples through genocide. The US is founded on genocide under this guise.

In community the spiritual vitality that arises in respect, cooperative mutual support is born of the interlocking elegance of differing experience and perspective is, or can be, another quality of diversity, and worthy of respect.

A project worth becoming aware of is Reclaiming Native Truth which has published new research into addressing these problems with an introduction for allies of Reclaiming Native Truth


Important words for us to hear. Diversity that is real - and which through the honest conversations/debates and shared life experience challenges our prejudice and shapes a path forward together is essential. Diversity which is simply for show, and includes only those who submit to our bias/prejudice/and clearly marked path only serves to entrench the deep division between the “others”. This is true if we are speaking race/gender identity/political preference/financial status/health/age/or educational level. There is something from each one or group which can make our path forward better. Sham diversity almost always is a return to a past - usually seen unrealistically, and often repeating the worst of its failures.


Class Warfare pits the lower classes against each other. The ruling class enflames racist grievances with shock jock talk radio and manipulative control of mainstream news outlets. I believe there is potential for change in the environmental movement as an equalizer in that all are threatened and all are to some degree responsible. Modern society is wasteful and indifferent to the toxic harm our lifestyles of luxury impose upon the natural environment. The ruling class have the means to institute programs that restore and conserve nature, and in the process improve living standards equitably, but it looks like their denial of catastrophic climate change is another form of genocidal warfare. The richest of the rich will survive. The poor, the people of color, consumers, wage-slaves and canon fodder will exterminate each other senselessly.


Great article, and interview of Mr. Ford, by Chris Hedges. Thanks, CD.
I’m very glad to see Ocasio-Cortez being mentioned by Mr. Ford. Makes my day, actually.


“Ocasio-Cortez defied the party establishment as an avowed member of the Democratic Socialists of America. She could not even get a pre-election endorsement from Bernie Sanders, her mentor.”

Perhaps she will grow into being a green socialist who does not support democrats.


It’s good to see Glen Ford emerge in this. Anyone interested can find him at Black Agenda Report.

What Ford points to is an intrinsic problem with integrating even welcome diversity into a steeply hierarchical and therefore inevitably corrupt system. Entry into rank becomes a bribe to maintain oppression.

It has made it easy for institutions to trade welcome liberalizations with respect to race and gender against increased oppression overall.


The hand wielding the knife may be of any color

But the cuts will always run red


This article nicely embodies what I both admire and dislike about Chris Hedges. When speaking of the broad thematic elements that underlie our society, he sees with clarity. But his arguments lack grounding and he seems uninterested in developing a platform for advancement. He has remarkably large blind spots and often let’s his mind wander in a very undisciplined manner. This prevents him from seeing how power truly works and how brittle it can be. You just need to know where and when to push. I might suggest that Chris wander over to Bernie Sanders office to pick up some pointers on the finer points of politics.

I’m not sure why Chris Hedges blindly dislikes Bernie, to the point of purposely misrepresent what happens at ground level. Chris, working in his undisciplined modes, creates the false impression that Bernie didn’t support Ms. Cortez. This is the thinking of a simpleton. One need only look at who ran Ms. Cortez campaign, the groups that backed her and who she got democratic voter lists from to see who Bernie supported. Wake up Mr. Hedges, these arguments are intellectually lazy and you are better than this.


Courageous, comprehensive, convincing: Hedges knocks it out of the ballpark again!


“Perhaps she will grow into being a green socialist who does not support democrats.”

Even better… perhaps she will transform the Democratic Party into a Progressive, anti-corporate party that is dedicated to the 99%!


Actually I find that Chris Hedges likes Bernie Sanders and understands why Sanders doesn’t come out more forcefully against things like the oppression of Palestinians, mass incarceration of people of colour, dismantling of the nuclear arsenal or universal guaranteed income. Yet Hedges also believes that we must be “all in” or else we’re not speaking truth to power. As for Hedges perceived lack of solutions, his most vital contribution is to educate everyone around the real evil of our time… the great injustices imposed upon us by corporate America with its band of sociopaths who are willing to destroy the planet in the pursuit of wealth and power. Until Americans realize who the real enemy of democracy is, we really can’t expect to change the existing power structure.


I appreciate your point of view but I really struggle with Chris’ laziness as a writer, his lack of self reflection and his flat out incorrect interpretation of events. Last week’s column and representation of John Raulston Saul’s work is a good example. If he actually read John’s work in detail, he would see a careful and at times humorous critique of corporate power. John is an economic historian who often provides clear examples of how an informed society can effectively counter the concentration of power. Unfortunately, Chris ignores the truly insightful parts of John’s work and simply starts his usual screed of undisciplined arguments. The week before that, was a bizarre rant on Bernie Sanders. It was a weird veneal discussion of himself where he strangely projected his own failings as a critiic onto someone else. It was as if he never opened one of his own books and read the author’s biography.

Look I realize times are hard but he needs to do better than this. It is simply not good enough to sit comfortably in the wings(academics are good at this) and throw rhetorical bombshells. I guess it’s a living but it’s not honest work. You have to build and feed a movement that creates a power base for change. Frankly, it is time for Chris to get off his lazy arse and do some heavy lifting.