The terms affirmative action, equal representation, preferential treatment and quotas just don't sell well. The intellectual elite and their media, government and corporate enthusiasts have come up with diversity, a seemingly benign term that's a cover for racially discriminatory policy. They call for college campuses, corporate offices and government agencies to "look like America."
Part of looking like America means if blacks are 13 percent of the population, they should be 13 percent of college students and professors, corporate managers and government employees. Behind this vision of justice is the silly notion that but for the fact of discrimination, we'd be distributed equally by race across incomes, education, occupations and other outcomes. There is absolutely no evidence that statistical proportionality is the norm anywhere on Earth; however, much of our thinking, laws and public policy is based upon proportionality being the norm. Let's look at some racial differences whilst thinking about their causes and possible remedies.
While 13 percent of our population, blacks are 80 percent of professional basketball players and 65 percent of professional football players and are the highest paid players in both sports. By contrast, blacks are only 2 percent of NHL's professional ice hockey players. There is no racial diversity in basketball, football and ice hockey. They come nowhere close to "looking like America."
Even in terms of sports achievement, racial diversity is absent. Four out of the five highest career home-run hitters were black. Since blacks entered the major leagues, of the eight times more than 100 bases were stolen in a season, all were by blacks.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently ordered Dayton, Ohio's police department to lower its written exam passing scores so as to have more blacks on its police force. What should Attorney General Eric Holder do about the lack of diversity in sports? Why don't the intellectual elite protest? Could it be that the owners of these multi-billion-dollar professional basketball, football and baseball teams are pro-black while those of the NHL and major industries are racists unwilling to put blacks in highly paid positions?
There's one ethnic diversity issue completely swept under the rug. Jewish Americans are less than 3 percent of our population and only two-tenths of 1 percent of the world's population. Yet between 1901 and 2010, Jews were 35 percent of American Nobel Laureate winners and 22 percent of the world's.
If the diversity gang sees underrepresentation as "probative" of racial discrimination, what do they propose we do about overrepresentation? Because if one race is overrepresented, it might mean they're taking away what rightfully belongs to another race.
There are other representation issues to which we might give some attention with an eye to corrective public policy. Asians routinely get the highest scores on the math portion of the SAT while blacks get the lowest. Men are 50 percent of the population and so are women; yet men are struck by lightning six times as often as women. The population statistics for South Dakota, Iowa, Maine, Montana and Vermont show that not even 1 percent of their populations is black. On the other hand, in states such as Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, blacks are overrepresented in terms of their percentages in the general population.
There are many international examples of disproportionality. For example, during the 1960s, the Chinese minority in Malaysia received more university degrees than the Malay majority — including 400 engineering degrees compared with four for the Malays, even though Malays dominate the country politically. In Brazil's state of Sao Paulo, more than two-thirds of the potatoes and 90 percent of the tomatoes produced were produced by people of Japanese ancestry.
The bottom line is there no evidence anywhere that but for discrimination, people would be divided according to their percentages in the population in any activity. Diversity is an elitist term used to give respectability to acts and policy that would otherwise be deemed as racism.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.