The New Racism

Now Hiring by Skin Colour! The University of Calgary’s “Inclusion” Policy that Discriminates Against Nearly Everyone

F.L. Ted Morton
November 30, 2022
It required nearly 5,000 years of civilization to reach broad agreement that all human beings are created equal and that each of us is entitled to be treated equally without discrimination. It has taken fewer than 30 years to begin casting this aside once more. It would be bad enough if this retrogressive impulse emanated from society’s margins. In fact, treating people differently based on their race, colour, ethnicity or gender is being propounded at the very top – in our universities. Ted Morton, himself a professor for nearly 40 years, reveals the University of Calgary’s blatantly racist and sexist new hiring policies, recently launched under the guise of “equity” and “inclusion.”
The New Racism

Now Hiring by Skin Colour! The University of Calgary’s “Inclusion” Policy that Discriminates Against Nearly Everyone

F.L. Ted Morton
November 30, 2022
It required nearly 5,000 years of civilization to reach broad agreement that all human beings are created equal and that each of us is entitled to be treated equally without discrimination. It has taken fewer than 30 years to begin casting this aside once more. It would be bad enough if this retrogressive impulse emanated from society’s margins. In fact, treating people differently based on their race, colour, ethnicity or gender is being propounded at the very top – in our universities. Ted Morton, himself a professor for nearly 40 years, reveals the University of Calgary’s blatantly racist and sexist new hiring policies, recently launched under the guise of “equity” and “inclusion.”
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Just over one month ago the University of Calgary quietly announced a new “Inclusive Excellence Cluster Hiring Initiative.” The press release accompanying this somewhat mysterious-sounding word jumble is filled with glowing language describing worthy-sounding goals that any person of goodwill could seemingly celebrate. Who could be against a “welcoming,” “diverse” and “accessible” organization that “enables every member of our campus community to thrive”? Who would not want a culture of “excellence” and “entrepreneurial thinking” whose members are drawn from every part of society?

Dig a little deeper, however, and it becomes apparent that the U of C’s cluster initiative signifies something other than what is implied by those words as traditionally understood. The press release is largely written in the coded Orwellian language of our new world of diversity, inclusion and equity. The 45 professors to be hired under the initiative over the next three years must all be members of what are now called “equity-deserving groups”: women, Indigenous people, members of specific races or other visible minorities, or persons with disabilities.

A place where “every member” can “thrive” – but most especially the “equity-deserving.” The University of Calgary’s noble-sounding “Inclusive Excellence Cluster Hiring Initiative” actually reserves dozens of new professorships exclusively for specific races/ethnicities, the disabled or women. (Source of photos: University of Calgary)

Will these new hires be going to specific individuals who have been the victims of past discrimination and will now receive what they otherwise should have based on merit? Or will the hiring process simply favour members of designated groups and, in so doing, exclude everyone else? The U of C’s press release is vague on this. It mentions “diversity” 16 times and variants of “equity” (such as equitable, equity-deserving groups and equity gaps) 21 times. The words “discrimination” or “equality of opportunity” do not appear. This is not by accident.

While couched in euphemisms that obscure or upend the meanings of previously clear words, the new U of C policy is a loud and proud declaration of today’s ideology of social justice and identity politics. But it is not aimed at compensating specific individual academics who suffered past incidents of discrimination. Nor is it about ensuring equality of opportunity for individuals from any and all identifiable groups. When all the rhetoric is stripped away and the policy’s essentials are laid bare, it is simply about hiring a specific, pre-set number of people from designated groups. Which means not hiring equally or even better-qualified individuals who happen to belong to all other groups. The wrong groups – those not “deserving” of “equity.”

While the press release’s rhetoric is unclear, the job openings posted in the weeks following the announcement for the first of those 45 new academic positions make the policy plain. Three such advertisements were up as of November 27. The first was posted on November 16 and is a full professorship with tenure at the Haskayne School of Business. It is “only open to qualified women candidates.”

The second was posted the next day, also by the Haskayne school, for an assistant, associate or full professorship, with or without tenure. This U of C position is “only open to qualified Black scholars.” These, the posting adds by way of example, could be “Black Pioneer,” “African,” or “Caribbean,” although it isn’t immediately clear whether this indicates preferred sub-racial groupings or the applicant’s focus of study.

The third job opening (which does not show a date) is from the Faculty of Nursing for the position of Director, Indigenous Initiatives, holding either an assistant or associate teaching professorship, with or without tenure. It is “only open to qualified Indigenous scholars (First Nations (Status, Non-Status), Métis, or Inuit).” Further, applicants “will be required to provide verifiable evidence of their Indigenous identity.”

That’s some kind of “inclusion”: The U of C’s new race-based requirement is made plain in recent postings such as the one illustrated at top left. For decades, the civil rights movement fought at great risk to have race-based laws and practices banished from society. (Sources of photos: (top right) History Channel; (bottom) Creative Commons/Oregon Historical Society)

Key to the U of C’s new policy is the concept of “equity gap.” It holds that there should be statistical parity between the proportions of members of all these groups in the university’s faculty and their percentages in Canadian society at large. When the former doesn’t match the latter, this is considered proof of an “equity gap.” Interventionist policies like those adopted by the U of C are then deemed necessary to resolve the “under-representation” of the designated groups.

Aggressive action is justified by the underlying belief that any statistical difference between representation in an organization, discipline, department or activity is never due to benign reasons like individual preference or sheer coincidence. It is only ever due to nefarious reasons flowing from the oppressiveness of white-dominated society. This is a central premise of critical race theory. “Equity is about finishing lines for groups,” wrote commentator Barbara Kay in a recent column. “If minority groups don’t achieve the same outcomes in proportion to their numbers in the population, there can only be one reason: racism or some other form of bigotry exercised by an oppressor group with privilege.”

Such parity has never been achieved anywhere in the world and never will be. In diverse, complex, large, multi-racial, immigrant societies like Canada, there are far too many variables that affect career choices and success. Perfect statistical parity among all measured groups is no more attainable in university faculties than it is in business, sports teams or our neighbourhoods. But because the goal (a form of utopianism) can never be achieved, it means that the policies aimed at achieving it can never be relaxed – only intensified. This in turn ensures that the power, salaries and staff of the bureaucratic gatekeepers who run the new equity system won’t end either. And it will undoubtedly enjoy the very public support of those who benefit from it.

In the progressive/woke mindset, an “equity gap” – when an identified group’s representation in a given situation does not strictly match its proportion of the general population – occurs solely due to “racism or some other form of bigotry exercised by an oppressor group with privilege,” explains well-known Canadian columnist Barbara Kay (top left). But does this ideological explanation really pass the test of common sense? (Source of top-middle photo: Tim Wang, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

As a recent C2C essay explains, this “social justice” or “woke” worldview has been taking over universities, law schools and human rights commissions for the past two decades. And now it is coming after the rest of Canadian society. Its consequences for our universities – and Albertans as a whole – will be extremely harmful. More qualified candidates for faculty hiring will be passed over in favour of applicants from “equity-deserving groups.” Not only is this unfair discrimination against the more qualified candidates, it will also undermine the competitiveness of our universities – nationally and internationally.

In polite society, this type of hiring was given the benign name “affirmative action.” In less politically correct circles, it is called what it is: reverse discrimination. But no longer. In this new universe, anyone who defends the idea of individual merit and equal treatment of all individuals regardless of race, colour or ethnic background is deemed bigoted. As Thomas Sowell, a widely respected American economist who happens to be black, has observed: “If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (left) gave his life to advance the proposition that individuals of all races should be treated equally and “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” As renowned American author Thomas Sowell (right) more recently pointed out, such ideas made one “a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.” (Source of left photo: KPBS, courtesy of Rod Searcey)

This situation explains why Jordan Peterson recently resigned his tenured, full-professor position at the University of Toronto. “We are now at the point where race, ethnicity, ‘gender,’ or sexual preference is first, accepted as the fundamental characteristic defining each person…and second, is now treated as the most important qualification for study, research and employment,” Peterson wrote in the National Post. The result, he continued, is that “my qualified and supremely trained heterosexual white male graduate students…face a negligible chance of being offered university research positions.”

The discriminatory and unfair effects of this new approach to “equity” are not limited to white males. Similar policies in the United States include clearly discriminatory admissions practices at top U.S. universities, where many highly qualified Asian-American students are being rejected in favour of less-qualified candidates from other groups. Some Asian-American families have sued Harvard University over this and their case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. The data they entered into evidence proves that their more qualified children – university applicants with higher grades and higher scores on standardized tests – are being passed over in favour of applicants from what the U of C would call “equity-deserving groups.” This is not just unfair to the better-qualified applicants. It is increasing rather than decreasing tensions between racial groups.

These types of affirmative action/reverse discrimination policies have become embedded in universities, with large administrative staffs and executive-level titles to drive them. But while they are popular with social justice/identity politics academics and activists, Americans at large are unequivocally opposed. Voters in five states – including the liberal strongholds of California and Washington – have passed referendums prohibiting their governments from using racial preferences in public employment, public education and public contracting.

Equal opportunity for all: Despite the broad elite campaign to permanently embed reverse discrimination and the brutal shaming of those who publicly disagree, Americans of all racial groups oppose race-based favoritism. They want individual merit to govern post-secondary admission.

Encouragingly, recent polling has found that three-quarters of Americans oppose the use of race or ethnicity in college admissions. Opposition is highest among white Americans at 79 percent. But affirmative action is also opposed by majorities of all other racial groups – 68 percent of Hispanics, 63 percent of Asian-Americans and 59 percent of black Americans. What should count? The top-rated factors, Americans of all races say, should be high school grades, standardized entrance exams and community service. In other words, merit, regardless of race or group identity. I have no doubt that Albertans would choose the same.

Affirmative action/reverse discrimination is not a path that Alberta needs to go down. Over the past six decades, people from all over Canada and the world have come to Alberta for better opportunities. More importantly, they have stayed and prospered. Alberta has grown from a population of under 1.3 million to more than 4.4 million. Calgary’s population is now one-third visible minority.

Many of these more recent immigrants chose Canada to escape societies whose governments treat racial, ethnic and religious groups differently. Members of the “wrong” groups are habitually denied jobs, education, social mobility and economic opportunities. They can be shunned in public. In extreme cases, they risk being attacked, raped or murdered merely for their ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation or way of dressing. In some instances, these policies are tearing apart their native countries altogether. Think of events within living memory in Nigeria, Rwanda or Sri Lanka – or as we speak in Iran.

The real “equity gap”: The world still contains many countries where the wrong ethnicity, religion, beliefs or even manner of dress can result in oppression, exclusion or death. Top, members of the Tutsi people, slaughtered en masse in Rwanda as recently as 1993. Bottom, 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian Jîna Amini, beaten to death by Iran’s religious police after improperly wearing her mandatory hijab.

Thankfully, some new Canadians who have lived through such events are declaring that they don’t want their adopted country to enact policies that identify and treat people according to race. “Identifying Canadians on their everyday documents, and the existing practice of awarding grants and jobs in Canada based on race, is divisive and discriminatory,” wrote Rima Azar, a native of Lebanon and now an associate professor of health psychology at a Canadian university, in a recent column in the Edmonton Journal. “Canada should move in the opposite direction, one of race-neutrality.”

Race-based policies like those being rolled out by the U of C are intrinsically wrong. They are deeply immoral. Mistreating people based on their skin colour, gender or other group characteristics is as wrong today as it ever was. The U of C’s “cluster initiative” introduces not only official reverse discrimination against men, whites and/or the able-bodied but what we could perhaps term “lateral” discrimination. A position open solely to members of one particular minority group is necessarily closed off not just to the “majority” but to any number of other minorities. A job created for an Indigenous scholar can’t be held by a black, Asian, Hispanic and so on. This is exclusive, not inclusive.

Ironically, such policies may even set back rather than advance the professional prospects of those minorities whom they are supposed to benefit. The unspoken but ever-present question will be: has this person’s professional advancement been driven by achievement and merit or by some kind of quota? In our universities and colleges, this will hardly foster faculty collegiality or the sincere respect of students.

Alberta has prospered largely because it has been a classic meritocracy. With increasingly rare exceptions, Albertans don’t care where you’ve come from or what colour your skin is. At some point, all our families came from somewhere else. We care if you can do the job and do it well. If you can, you’re on our team. This attitude has contributed to building the most productive and prosperous province in Canada.

Some new Canadians are speaking out against reverse discrimination. “The existing practice of awarding grants and jobs in Canada based on race is divisive and discriminatory,” says Lebanon-born psychologist Rima Azar (left), urging Canada to practise “race-neutrality.”

Based on my 36 years at the U of C, I believe the same has been true of our universities and colleges. In our early years, most faculty members came from outside Alberta and many from outside Canada. There was a similar culture of equality of opportunity. I never witnessed or heard of a professor not being hired or promoted because of sex, race or skin colour. The same was true for our students. In fact, a disproportionate share of my best students were second-generation Canadians. They were proud of their heritage but they were happy to be in Canada and not where their parents came from. I know the same was true for earlier generations whose families came from England, France or elsewhere in Europe.

The more diverse we become, the more imperative it is that the government treat everyone equally. Nobody is undeserving. Meritocracy – equal treatment of all individuals without regard to race, ethnicity, skin colour, religion, sex or any other immutable characteristic – is not only morally right. It works. In Alberta it has worked for the past six decades. And it will keep working if we give it the opportunity. The U of C’s new “inclusive” hiring policy is a huge step in the wrong direction.

F.L. (Ted) Morton is professor emeritus and an Executive Fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. He is also a former minister of energy and minister of finance in the Government of Alberta. In 1995 he was awarded the Bora Laskin National Fellowship in Human Rights Research.

Source of main image: Shutterstock.

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