Tribalism re-emerges to re-conquer merit, under cover of “diversity”

Tribalism re-emerges to re-conquer merit, under cover of “diversity.” By Victor Davis Hanson.

What do all our notable fabricators — George Santos, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama — have in common?

Well, quite like the Ward ChurchilIs or Rachel Dolezals of the world, one way or another, they lied about their identities. Or they sought fraudulent ways of suggesting their ancestries were marginalized. Or they had claims on being victims on the theory their constructed personas brought career advantages.

George Santos claimed, apparently in search of a victimized status, that he was an “American Jew” and a “Latino Jew,” and a descendent of Holocaust survivors.

Joe Biden lied that he went to “shul” as well as that he grew up in a veritable Puerto Rican household and just happened to attend a black college as well as being an honorary Greek.

Elizabeth Warren ended up a laughingstock for claiming her high cheekbones were proof of her Native-American ancestry—a lie she rode all the way to being the “first” Native-American professor on the Harvard Law school faculty.

Somehow the half-white, prep-schooled Barry Soetoro, who had taken his Indonesian stepfather’s last name, rebooted in the university back to Barack Obama. The latter oddly did not catch his literary agent “misidentifying” him in a book promo as being born in Africa. And only as president, did we learn his “autobiographical” memoir was mostly a concoction.

This fixation with constructing identities is one of the great pathologies of our woke era.

When we obsess in neo-Confederate style on race, ethnicity, or religion as the defining element of who we are, and we do this to leverage political advantage, then we set off a chain-reaction of Yugoslavian- or Lebanese-style tribalism. Like nuclear proliferation, once one group goes tribal, then all others will strain to find their own deterrent tribal identity. …

In sum, woke tribalism inevitably turns us into fabricators and society itself becomes a liar.

Against meritocracy:

The old 1970s cynical canard that racial quotas would not extend to pilot training or neurosurgery is no longer true. …

Many universities and professional schools are considering adopting pass/fail grading on the theory that affirmative action admissions must become synonymous with guaranteed graduation. Yet what is the alternative once one travels this pathway? Suppose the idea of quota-based admissions is declared valid and salutary. In that case, grading must likewise be recalibrated along this long chain of anti-meritocracy to continue ensuring equality of results.

Licensing boards are next. … The logical next step is that licensing exam standards in law or medicine must likewise be relaxed so as not to interrupt the ever-lengthening wokeist chain.  …

We forget that what once separated the Western world from the rest was not race, climate, or natural bounty, but its gradual creation of meritocracies replacing the pre-civilizational rule of the clan, the tribe, or the race.

The old inherited and stubborn obstacles remained: aristocratic privilege, class chauvinism, and plutocratic clout that warred with qualifications. They were the ancient impediments to merit whose power in the West slowly was also dethroned. …

Diversity failures:

The racial, one-drop categories of the Old South or the Third Reich, or the colorized spectrum of the old apartheid South Africa, or the racial chauvinism of the new tribal South Africa, or the commissar system of the Soviet Union, or the religious intolerance of fundamentalist Islam, or the familial gangs and clannish tyranny of prewar Sicily ensured that all were dysfunctional societies, and often much worse than that. Opportunity was instead guaranteed, and excellence defined, by something other than demonstrable talent and achievement.  …

Accentuate [diversity]; sharpen differences; treat individuals as part of tribal collectives — and a descent into violence and anarchy is assured….

So, we are headed, dangerously so, into an historically ugly, hateful, and volatile place — all the more so because we lie that it is utopian when it is pre-civilizational and reactionary. …

The proper way:

But consider tribal differences superficial, and human commonality more important than racial difference, then diversity can be enriching through voluntary contributions to the whole in terms of varieties of food, music, art, fashion, and literature.

The left has chosen for us. Short term gains for them, lose-lose for us.