On his program on Friday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson played clips of four Democratic politicians riffing about diversity.
“Our diversity, our patchwork heritage, is not a weakness. It is still and always will be one of our greatest strengths.” — Barack Obama
“Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths.” — Bernie Sanders
“Our great strength lies in our diversity.” — Joe Biden
“We know our diversity is our strength, not a weakness.” — Hillary Clinton
Carlson then ridiculed those statements. “How, precisely, is diversity our strength?” he asked. “Since you’ve made this our new national motto, please be specific as you explain it. Can you think, for example, of other institutions such as, I don’t know, marriage or military units in which the less people have in common, the more cohesive they are?”
People slammed Carlson for slamming diversity — a backlash that, in his telling, was orchestrated by the “organized left.” So he returned to the racist theme on Monday night, bashing his detractors and addressing an alleged shortcoming in the national dialogue. Carlson complained that “elites” in the United States “jettisoned” the old standby e pluribus unum (“out of many, one”) and “adopted a new one — ‘diversity is our strength.’ ” More from Carlson:
The new slogan seems to have the opposite meaning from the one the Founders wrote. Our differences, they began telling us, are now the single most important thing about us. The less alike we are the better.
Now, it’s possible that is true. The disunity somehow makes us stronger. What’s striking is that nobody has ever bothered to explain exactly how. [Italicized to highlight dangerous territory for Carlson.]
Journalists understand that perils that lie in categorical, sweeping negatives — that is, assertions that so-and-so never did something or that no one ever said something. Here, a Fox News host is asserting that nobody has ever, ever mustered an explanation of how diversity is our greatest strength.
Rudolph W. Giuliani has to be mad. In December 2001, he delivered a farewell speech after his run as the Republican mayor of New York City. “We’re a city in which our diversity is our greatest strength,” said Giuliani. A talker at heart, Giuliani elaborated:
I remember after the attack on the World Trade Center, it just came very naturally for me to say to people, do not engage in group blame. Do not go single out people who are Arab-Americans and blame the attack on the World Trade Center on them. Because the people who attacked the World Trade Center, we weren’t even sure exactly who it was then. But the people who attacked the World Trade Center, obviously are vicious criminals of the worst kind. And there isn’t a single group that sits out there that doesn’t have among them vicious criminals of some kind. Every ethnic group, religious group, racial group has some bad, really bad people in that group.
And then the question becomes are you the kind of prejudiced, irrational human being that defines the group based on the bad people in that group, which means you are going to end up hating everybody. Or do you kind of get beyond that and see that, in fact, in every group, most people are decent people who are just trying to do the same thing that you are doing.
I think the experience of New York allows more and more people to see that than any place else. Because we keep bumping into each other all the time. And you keep bumping into people who look different than you do. I mean, you see them all over. They have different outfits and they talk different languages. And they wear different clothes. And they say different things. And that experience, if you’re a person of some degree of common sense and intelligence, that experience opens you up to the feeling that, well, people are basically all the same.
And it’s the greatest strength that we have, the greatest strength that we have as a city is immigration. And keeping ourselves open to people. And we shouldn’t allow what has happened to us in the last three, three and a half months, we shouldn’t allow what has happened to us to stop that in any way at all. We should continue to be open to people.
Perhaps that explanation isn’t lofty enough for Carlson, a former magazine writer who is well-read on history and politics. So we offer these words on the 1988 Summer Olympics, from President Ronald Reagan:
Yes, our athletes have a love, a happiness, and an exuberance in being American. They’re as patriotic as the Pledge of Allegiance; as red, white, and blue as the flag. They’re filled with the spirit of our land in all of its magnificent diversity, a diversity you can see even in their faces. When you look at most other teams, it’s easy to tell what continent or region they’re from. But we Americans come from every continent and region. Ours are the faces of all humanity, just as our nation was built by the hopes of all humanity.
Still not good enough, Mr. Carlson? Try President Bill Clinton, then, from a 1998 address at Portland State University in Oregon:
More than any other nation on Earth, America has constantly drawn strength and spirit from wave after wave of immigrants. In each generation, they have proved to be the most restless, the most adventurous, the most innovative, the most industrious of people. Bearing different memories, honoring different heritages, they have strengthened our economy, enriched our culture, renewed our promise of freedom and opportunity for all. . . .
I believe new immigrants are good for America. They are revitalizing our cities. They are building our new economy. They are strengthening our ties to the global economy, just as earlier waves of immigrants settled the new frontier and powered the Industrial Revolution. They are energizing our culture and broadening our vision of the world. They are renewing our most basic values and reminding us all of what it truly means to be an American.
It means working hard, like a teenager from Vietnam who does his homework as he watches the cash register at his family’s grocery store. It means making a better life for your children, like a father from Russia who works two jobs and still finds time to take his daughter to the public library to practice her reading. It means dreaming big dreams, passing them on to your children.
So from the looks of things, this “new slogan” has been treated to some meaty explanations.
What isn’t explained is why Carlson has chosen September 2018 to blast away at this phantom of an issue. Even he concedes that diversity-is-our-strength started gathering force “a few decades ago.” So why is he fixating on it now? Perhaps to draw attention away from the fact that, less than two years ago, we transitioned from our first black president — a man who dragged the country back from economic disaster, accomplished a historic drop in the number of people without health insurance, and conducted himself with dignity and humor throughout — to a white guy who can’t think, can’t spell, can’t govern, can’t imitate a human being and can’t tell the truth.
But, yeah, all this diversity is killing us.