Angela Davis and the Distortion of Diversity

COMMENTARY Progressivism

Angela Davis and the Distortion of Diversity

May 4th, 2018 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Mike Gonzalez

Senior Fellow, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute

Mike Gonzalez is a senior fellow at the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.
Activist Angela Davis speaks at the Women's March on Washington near the national mall. Erin Scott/Polaris/Newscom

Key Takeaways

What "diversity" has become couldn't have a more perfect spokesman than Angela Davis.

She is now a professor of feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and tours universities giving speeches about how diversity should be used.

Her candor about what "diversity," "multiculturalism," and "race studies" are all about almost makes up for her filling young minds with her distortions.

Heard that conservatives are being disinvited, or even assaulted, when they speak at university campuses? Well, an unreconstructed 1960s Marxist who has praised the worst human-rights abusers abroad and supported violence at home is being welcomed at campuses to tell adoring crowds how "diversity" should be used to change America.

If you're between 25 and 50, you may never have heard of Angela Davis. But if you're older – or apparently college-age – chances are you have.

She's certainly come a long way from the 16 months she spent in prison after a shotgun she owned was used to assassinate a judge in 1970 (she was acquitted in a still-contested verdict). She is now a professor of feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and tours universities giving speeches about how diversity should be used.

And in fact, what "diversity" has become couldn't have a more perfect spokesman than Angela Davis.

Many proponents of diversity say it's about giving "the previously excluded" – minorities, immigrants, etc. – access to positions of power. And, hey, if "diversity" truly were about hiring anybody, regardless of ethnicity, sex or national origin, you could count me in. Who could oppose equal opportunity?

But Davis will disabuse you of this silly notion. She sells diversity to promote a Marxist understanding of society as being divided between adversarial groups made up of oppressors and the subjugated – so society needs to be changed.

Davis conveys this message not just symbolically – because she is Angela Davis, 1979 recipient of the "Lenin Peace Prize" granted by the East German police state – but also through what she actually says.

She's straightforward, give her that. She still proudly tells students "I have always been a communist," and they respond with standing ovations. She then explains in great detail what diversity, ethnic studies departments, multiculturalism, etc. are all about.

Pan-African studies, she told students at California State University, L.A. in 2016, is "the intellectual arm of the revolution."

And any version of multiculturalism "that does not acknowledge the political character of culture will not, I'm sure, lead toward the dismantling of racist, sexist, homophobic, economically exploitative institutions," this faithful former student of the Frankfurt School's Herbert Marcuse wrote.

Of course, many of the same universities that embrace Davis will, shamefully enough, prevent conservatives such as Charles Murray, Ben Shapiro or Cristina Hoff Sommers from sharing a different point of view. So much for diversity.

I missed Davis's visit to the University of Virginia by a few days when I visited the campus with my wife and children in late March. According to The Cavalier Daily, "general admissions tickets for the event were sold out in two minutes after they were made available."

As I walked through the well-manicured lawns, through the many statues and remembrances of UVA's first president, Thomas Jefferson (he of All Men Are Created Equal), my mind wandered back to the first time I encountered Davis.

I suppose I could say I was "triggered," because what I was instantly reminded of was when Davis visited my native land of Cuba when I was the age my children are now. It was 45 years ago, at the height of the revolution.

No sooner was Davis out of the slammer than she scurried to Havana to pay homage to the America-hating Fidel Castro. The regime fawned over her so much, filling the airwaves with everything she did, that annoyed Cubans finally composed an unkind ditty about her.

I'm sure that Davis overlooked the deprivation of average Cubans as she moved from luxury suite to endless pavilions to peace, humanity, tractor-making, etc. Communism has a perfect record of failure, and it pauperized Cuba very quickly, as it is doing now to Venezuela.

But Davis now wants to introduce the pathogen of Marxism here in the United States, and her version of "diversity" is its vector.

"Diversity without changing the structure, without calling for structural formation, simply brings those who were previously excluded into a process that continues to be as racist, as misogynist as it was before," she told her UVA audience, making clear, again, that diversity is NOT be about hiring members of all races.

Davis says a version of that everywhere.

She's not always completely honest. At CSULA she advocated for the demise of capitalism and money. "Why should we not imagine the possibility of abolishing the centrality of money altogether?" she asked, not revealing that her speaking fee is between $10,001 and $20,000.

But her candor about what "diversity," "multiculturalism," and "race studies" are all about almost makes up for her filling young minds with her distortions.

This piece originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee