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Guy Farmer: Diversity gone wild

By Guy W. Farmer

Would it surprise you to learn that I was a “diversity hire” when I became a U.S. Foreign Service officer (FSO) in 1967? That’s because I was the first-ever Assyrian/Norwegian American FSO who grew up in Seattle and lived in Nevada, of all places. Are you surprised?

Actually, I was one of the few FSOs from Nevada at that time, following Bob Mount, a former Reno newspaper reporter who was the son of Keith Mount, the state Democratic chairman. In the 1960s the Foreign Service was dominated by rich white guys (males, that is) from Ivy League schools who looked down upon mere mortals from places like Seattle and Nevada. I was a westerner without an Ivy League pedigree, and proud of it.

Fast forward to 2020, when “diversity” means classifying everyone according to their race, ethnicity, gender, skin color, sexual preference, and God knows what else. As someone who tried to integrate his fraternity at the University of Washington, who was the spokesman for Gov. Grant Sawyer’s successful effort to integrate Nevada casinos, and who was married to a beautiful Mexican woman for more than 40 years, I resent ethnic, racial and gender stereotypes. Don’t call me a “racist” just because I’m an old white Guy. Them’s fightin’ words.

“Diversity” has become the battle cry of the new, politically correct social justice warriors — diversity at all costs, even when it makes no sense. I focused on this prickly topic recently when I read a front page column by Reno Gazette Journal Executive Editor Brian Duggan, a former Nevada Appeal reporter, headlined “A Discussion on Diversity in the RGJ Newsroom.” So instead of covering the news, RGJ reporters are discussing diversity.

“The nationwide Black Lives Matter protests have reminded all of us that our collective struggle for equality and racial justice is still ongoing in the United States as well as here in Northern Nevada,” Duggan wrote. “We must start by acknowledging that our own newsroom does not accurately reflect the diversity of the communities we serve,” which suggests ethnic and racial quotas in the RGJ newsroom.

Duggan lamented that 77 percent of his newsroom staff is white, as compared to about 62 percent of people who live in the Reno-Sparks area. Is this something that merits a page one clarion call for racial justice? Sorry, but I don’t think so. And if I’m a competent, white RGJ reporter, I’m listening for PC Police footsteps behind me as my boss proceeds to “actively recruit journalists from diverse backgrounds.”

Of course the newspaper business isn’t the only profession that’s going all-in for diversity because our public schools have become hotbeds of “social justice” activism. For example, an upscale suburban Seattle school district now requires high school students to take three, 45-minute social justice classes per week, which smacks of ideological indoctrination. Who teaches those classes? The local School Board informed students and parents that “the values of diversity, inclusion and equity are inextricably linked to our mission of excellence.” Not “academic excellence,” mind you, but generic “excellence.” Draw your own conclusions.

That School Board also called for “equity and justice,” and endorsed Black Lives Matter, which demonizes white people and police officers of all known skin colors. OK, repeat after me: All Lives Matter!

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, former U.S. Assistant Education Secretary Williamson Evers asserts that California’s new ethnic studies curriculum “prefers victimization to minority achievement, and Marxism to liberal values.” Whatever happened to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wise admonition that people should be judged on the content of their character rather than on the color of their skin?

Guy W. Farmer of Carson City is a lifelong civil rights advocate.