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Diversity: I don’t think it means what you think it means


These submissions were solicited in emails that began, “On a campus as intellectually diverse as Stanford … “, which was interesting. If the purpose of this exercise was to pat us on the back, then it may well succeed. Otherwise, I have my doubts.

I don’t find Stanford to be intellectually diverse, not really. Even when different opinions do arise, established interests and the social media mob are quick to crush them. I write and edit for The Stanford Review, which means that I have had 43 “Acts of Intolerance” submitted against me by people who remain anonymous, at least to me. My colleagues’ external jobs were threatened: Activists contacted their employers and demanded their firings. I am lucky, by contrast – I don’t have a job to lose. 

I’ve heard that no man is an island, but classes at Stanford often give me the contrary impression. I have opposed affirmative action in class discussions, only to be called a racist and told that I have offended another student, as if a classmate’s reaction to a policy stance were grounds for its silencing. And  perhaps it will be; if Who’s Teaching Us is to get its way, my position on affirmative action would be deemed a microagression and get classified as hate speech. The message gets through loud and clear: You would rather I stay silent.

My student representatives treat Israel as the Jew among nations, singled out for special condemnation. In fact, I have been asked to not write in support of Israel, because pro-Israel activists worry that the cause will suffer in your eyes just by its association with me. I have to put up with students arguing for abortion because “it reduces crime,” indifferent to the obvious implications. I am told that my race (guess) and gender (guess) invalidate my opinion. Does it tell you more about conservatism or about campus culture that all of you guessed correctly?

But I am a conservative and I expect all of this, so it does not bother me. I do not need anyone’s help to speak my mind. I argue in sections that Justice Scalia was an intellectual titan, that the surge in Iraq was the most admirable policy decision in my lifetime, that the Constitution helped to end slavery, not perpetuate it, that America is the greatest force for good on earth and that the Bible is its greatest source of wisdom. It is the genuine liberal – not a progressive and thus hilariously termed a centrist – who was not warned about the insularity of a college campus and is thus shocked, silenced and reduced to meekly walking up to me after class and thanking me for airing their hidden belief like it’s Communist Russia or something. Sometimes I think I am the only thing keeping sections interesting. I mean, if I weren’t there, would you just agree with each other for 50 minutes?

You all say you want diversity of thought, but I hesitate to take you at your word. Did you know that Evangelical Christians make up a quarter of the country? How many do you know at Stanford? From what I hear you say about them, I don’t think you want more of them at your school.

Intellectual diversity means more pro-life students, but then you would call them anti-woman and anti-choice and anti-reproductive rights and hate them for their views. Intellectual diversity means more students opposed to gay marriage, but then you can’t wait to jump on the bandwagon to boycott North Carolina or Georgia for not forcing Christians to bake cakes they don’t want to bake or for their bathroom laws. Intellectual diversity means more skeptics of climate change action, more believers in gender differences, more opponents of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and on and on with characteristics that you cannot stand. Intellectual diversity is not easy, and if you were honest with yourself, you would realize that you don’t really want it.

If you want to silence me and people like me, you are not for intellectual diversity. You know you are right, and you do not need to waste your time with retrograde opposing views. But then again, you turned down Berkeley for a reason, didn’t you?

– Elliot Kaufman, ‘18

Toronto, Canada


Contact Elliot Kaufman at [email protected]

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