Philosophical Detection: Diversity Demands for Hiring and Public Attacks on Minorities

by | Mar 10, 2024

Both actually stem from the same root: racism.

In recent years, we have seen massive numbers of news stories regarding two seemingly unrelated types of events:

  1. The pressure for diversity in our institutions focused mainly on Black and Latino populations, and,
  2. Frequent violent attacks or explicit discrimination directed at other ethnic groups such as Jews and Asians.


The diversity movement urges unequal treatment of individuals and asserts that merit-based treatment is racist. In what is a clear violation of the Constitution, some laws or regulations are written to demand racism, such as implicit hiring quotes and laws requiring subsidies or benefits to be given to a certain group. This is reverse racism writ large. Rather than solving racism, such diversity requirements entrench racism.

What is the motive behind diversity requirements? One motive is to provide reparations for slavery. Slavery was an evil institution that ended with the Civil War (see Assertion 6). Though the Civil War was followed with violence and prejudice, much has been done to make people equal before the law, and racist policies should continue to be challenged and opposed. But morally, there cannot be reparations to millions of people who were never slaves paid by today’s millions of taxpayers who never owned slaves, and whose parents and grandparents never were or owned slaves. Any laws or policies requiring these reparations would be unjust. Likewise, a paid legacy for claims of psychological harm caused by events occurring up to 160 years ago would be hopelessly subjective and arbitrary.

Property claims related to expropriation by specific, living Black people and their parents could properly be litigated and validated in a court of law. I am no lawyer, but I assume it would depend on statutes of limitations.

Open Discrimination

Over and above violence against the Black population by certain deranged police officers, violent racist attacks and admission caps have been directed at other minorities: Asians, Jews, and Latinos.

What is going on here? What are the attackers after?

Some simply hate people who look different than them. Others are jealous of people who fare better than them economically, especially Asians and Jews. What these last two cultures have in common is a virtually fanatical focus on education, which gives Asian and Jewish individuals a head start in life—and many people hate them for it.

In earlier times, open discrimination against Jews in the U.S. (not to mention the horrors they faced for many centuries in Europe) came in the form of caps that limited educational institutions from admitting “too many” Jewish students. The same bias is now harming Asians. The discrimination is based on the idea that too many Asian students are too good, so we must reduce their numbers and give favoritism to those less qualified so that we can even out the numbers. This is not only unjust, but it is also cultural suicide. We should want the best candidates to be trained and prosper, regardless of skin color or cultural heritage.

Both types of injustice are due to the same error: the refusal to treat people according to their individual characteristics. The cure for racism is individualism, as I explain in Reason and Individualism: The Antidote to Racism.

Edwin A. Locke is Dean's Professor of Leadership and Motivation Emeritus at the R.H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the American Psychological Association, the Society for Industrial & Organizational Behavior, and the Academy of Management. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (Society for I/O Psychology), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Management (OB Division), the J. M. Cattell Award (APS) and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Academy of Management. He, with Gary Latham, has spent over 50 years developing Goal Setting Theory, ranked No. 1 in importance among 73 management theories. He has published over 320 chapters, articles, reviews and notes, and has authored or edited 13 books including (w. Kenner) The Selfish Path to Romance, (w. Latham) New Directions in Goal Setting and Task Performance, and The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators. He is internationally known for his research on motivation, job satisfaction, leadership, and other topics. His website is:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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