By Fr. John A. Perricone
Fr. John A. Perricone, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of philosophy at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York. His articles have appeared in St. John’s Law Review, The Latin Mass, New Oxford Review and The Journal of Catholic Legal Studies.
Attention to one’s duties to state in life prevents normal Catholics from keeping track of the latest depredations of cancel culture. That is as it should be. Staring at the societal collapse only leaves one’s soul depleted, while engendering a sterile rage. Reliable sources such as this one should be sufficient in fulfilling one’s obligation to be informed, preventing either a surfeit of grim news or a dangerous naiveté, unbecoming of the Catholic citizen.
For those with their mind on better things, a small incident might have escaped them. In a recent hearing in the United States Senate on the vote of some of Mr. Biden’s nominees, Senators Tammy Duckworth (D., Illinois.) and Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) threatened to hold them up. They would vote only for “diversity candidates.” They were disconcerted by the paucity of Asian Americans on Mr. Biden’s list. After assurances that more officials of the desired background would be coming, they withdrew their threat. In the words of a prominent political journal, “In other words, the senators said they were prepared to engage in racial (and other forms of) discrimination in order to extort more discrimination.” Exactly.
America has become a willing hostage to a new despotism: diversity parading as equality. It strangles society because it not only erases equality but undermines true diversity. Equality assumes that each member of society is allowed to rise to the level of their own excellence, a potential deeply knit into man made in imago et similitudo Dei. Diversity is the blessed result, a multi-textured loveliness which results when equality moves as it should. Let a polity surrender equality for cruel facsimiles, then despotism reigns, excellence dies, diversity is discarded, and unity crumbles under the jackboot of injustice.
- Despotism, because when man is deprived of his freedom to prosper according to God’s designs, then he must submit to other men in place of God. Man’s usurpation of God is always hellish.
- Excellence dies, the outcome when man turns his gaze away from the interior springs of his own worth and makes exterior characteristics his summum bonum.
- True diversity is discarded, when man is driven to obsess on superficial traits rather than the richness lying in the metaphysical endowments of human nature.
- Unity crumbles, for it can only flourish where truth reigns, making itself visible in man’s natural potencies. Impeding these is the most savage injustice.
The consequence of this unraveling of civic order is a daily spectacle of Ideological Diversity. America has witnessed this as every one of its once-reliable institutions falls like dominoes to the reigning ideology of diversity: The Fortune 500, entertainment, journalism, education, government, law, and even the field of sports. Decent Americans cannot but feel as though the walls of ideology are closing in, leaving them gasping for the pure air of right reason. The Wall Street Journal of December 2, 2020, reported: “Nasdaq Inc. is pushing to require the thousands of companies listed on its stock exchange to include women, racial minorities and LGBTQ+ individuals on their boards, in what would be one of the most forceful moves yet to bring diversity to US corporations…requiring listed companies to have at least one woman on their boards, in addition to a director who is a racial minority or one who self-identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.” Huxley could not have done better. His Brave New World was tame compared to this surreal wonderland.
Aside from the corrosive presence of Diversity Ideology in Nasdaq’s decision, something more disturbing shows itself. Notice the nonchalant omission of even a passing nod to any objective moral norms. An acknowledged howl of rage at moral norms would be welcome, rather than smug indifference. A point has been reached where even attacks upon moral norms are unnecessary, since they have faded into the ether of irrelevance.
We seem to be seeing an unprecedented unraveling of human nature itself. In a little-known 1946 essay by C.S. Lewis, Modern Man and His Categories of Thought, he notes that the original hearers of the message of the Gospel had—in common with the Church—a belief of the supernatural, a fear of divine judgment and an awareness “that the world had once been better than it now was. The Jewish doctrine of the Fall, the Stoic conception of the Golden Age, and the common Pagan reverence for heroes, ancestors, and ancient lawgivers, were in this respect more or less agreed.”
Such common assumptions are no longer in place, and so Lewis believed that the Christian apologist met more resistance from modern man and woman than did the apostles from their audience. Lewis concludes with typical bravura, “I sometimes wonder whether we shall not have to re-convert men to real Paganism as a preliminary to converting them to Christianity. If they were Stoics, Orphics, Mithraists, or (better still) peasants worshipping the Earth, our task might be easier.” Now you can understand Nasdaq. And the unquenchable thirst for diversity.
A modicum of allowance can be made for secular society. After all, they know no better. But such allowance cannot be made for those in the Church who should. Many of them giddily spread the gospel of Diversity Ideology. They are even undeserving of Lenin’s obloquy, “useful idiots.” Perhaps Churchill’s stinging rebuke fits them better, “sheep in sheep’s clothing.” Only a few months ago, a prominent American prelate returning from a Roman visit was asked by a reporter about the agenda for his Archdiocese. He excitedly replied, “To promote diversity.” Wouldn’t Lenin be pleased? And Churchill would howl. The Church should be in the forefront of protecting human dignity, not degrading it. George Orwell was correct when he wrote, “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”
What is the obvious? Human dignity is only achieved when man is allowed to reach for the highest excellence that conforms to God’s plan. Permitting every man that opportunity is the mark of the just society. Since excellences will vary upon native born abilities, there will be differences of accomplishment and reward. The natural placements in society result from that free pursuit of excellence. This is the definition of true diversity. Since a decent people will not resent excellence rising to the fore, they will exalt in another’s just accomplishments.
This is what Cicero meant in his De Offciis. Though he employs the word “property,” he was referring to the deeper endowment of the achievements of human persons in their freedom to pursue excellence: “The chief purpose of the establishment of states and constitutional orders was that individual property rights might be secured.… For as I said above, it is the peculiar function of state and city to guarantee to every man the free and undisturbed control of his own property.” Introduction of any other standard but excellence is the belittling of the human person, whether that be race, religion, age, gender, or disability.
Out of this agreeable true diversity emerges a marvelous unity, e pluribus unum. It is not racial or sexual identity that represents diversity, it is the invitation to every human person to excel. Ideological Diversity is the demise of true diversity. Since it is ideology and not truth, it sows disunity, resentment, and implacable hatreds. Obvious to every American eye today are the consequences of Diversity Ideology: distortions of justice and law, a massive corruption of education, and a descent into tribalism, reducing men into a primitive lust for power, filling the vacuum left by the disinterest with truth. Seething resentments bubble over into violence, irreparable divisions, interpersonal strife, and the death of friendship. As Aristotle clearly reminds us in the Politics, it is φιλία (friendship or friendliness) which is the glue of the state.
But ultimately all of these lessons can only be learned from the Church because they are supernatural truths perfecting natural reason. Tis’ a thousand pities that many of the Church’s leaders look to secular ideology rather than sacred truths. The Catholic people beg for bread and receive only the stones of political platitudes. As Robert Reilly recently wrote, “Politics cannot meet the demands of the human soul, for it cannot achieve perfect justice…one must look beyond politics for the spiritual fulfillment for which man hungers…. Socrates showed that any attempt to fulfill the soul’s ultimate desire through politics—by trying to achieve perfect justice here—would transform the state into a totalitarian enterprise.”
Woke diversity is like the creeping overgrowth of a jungle, and the jungle is Hobbes’ “war of all against all.” Decent men must see how it threatens Judeo-Christian civilization as we have known it, to say nothing of our beloved Republic. Tarrying in confronting it is simply not an option. In Shakespeare’s words, “The readiness is all.”