The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion In defense of diversity

President Trump, flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during a Cabinet Meeting on Nov. 1. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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In his PostPartisan post yesterday, my Post colleague and occasional sparring partner Ed Rogers decried Democrats’ “overdependence” on the “race card” and obsession with identity politics as harmful to their political desires and the national interest. Rogers used two rather disparate examples: First, he cited the Democratic National Committee, where its technology department supposedly suggested not hiring any more white men because they were already in the majority; and then he leaped to blame Democrats and their support for the “diversity visa,” on which the accused terrorist who killed eight people in New York City on Tuesday was allowed into the United States.

Rogers’s opinions on affirmative action and diversity place him in a long Republican Party tradition, stretching from at least Sen. Jesse Helms, who ran a famous political ad of a white man’s hands crumpling up a rejection letter because his job went to a minority quota hire instead, to President Trump, who, in the immediate aftermath of the carnage in lower Manhattan, did what he does: add the tragedy to his always simmering cauldron of hate and division, and blame Democrats for being soft on terrorism.

I doubt I will ever convince Rogers, or other Republicans who agree with him, to think about diversity differently but here goes. Maybe, on the DNC matter, you might consider that its technology department could benefit from different points of view. Political communications are changing rapidly, and must figure out new ways and new channels to reach new voters. Ah, but you say, that’s fine, but not by discriminating against others in the name of diversity. Well, okay, but are white men really an aggrieved population when it comes to employment? The latest unemployment rate for that cohort, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 2.9 percent for white men 25 and older. So not that many are crumpling up rejection letters because a job went to a minority.

And perhaps Rogers would also consider something a bit closer to home: By the number of comments his articles generate and their frequent placement on the coveted home page of one of America’s leading news websites, he is very successful. His opinions are trenchant and draw on years of political experience. He is also one of a small number of reliably conservative voices in the Post opinion stable of writers. His voice has become an important and powerful one, precisely because it is diverse.