An Open Letter to Peter Thiel about Diversity
Questions from an Indian, about the book,
The Diversity Myth
Dear Peter Thiel,
Until today I was only familiar with your book, Zero to One. As an entrepreneur, I read my advance copy with zeal. Recently, I stumbled across another provoking thought piece of yours, The Diversity Myth.
I understand in your book, you make an impassioned case for abolishing affirmative action. I’m curious if you still cherish such ideas and perhaps if you have time, what I should think of Twitter activisms like #BlackLivesMatter. Far be it for me to offer you advice, but have you considered an alliterative of your own, #AbolishAffirmativeAction?
By the way, I should mention that I’m quite familiar with affirmative actions. India — a large democracy you may have heard of — also practices affirmative action. It seems that the stratification of Indians into various castes, led to some quite unfortunate circumstances, from the exploitation and exclusion of Dalits, to outright violence against them. Luckily, my family escaped the cruelties of being born into a lineage and zip code. We simply converted to Catholicism, gave ourselves Western names and moved across the planet. My first name is indeed Dominic, though I prefer my second name, Vikram, unless of course I’m applying for a job, in which case I’d count on Dominic.
I should also mention that I’ve have not yet read The Diversity Myth — what I’m sure is a passionate case against affirmative actions — nor do I plan on reading it, since it would shift my focus away from learning, which as you yourself contend, “multiculturalism is effectively wasting some of the best years of America’s brightest students.” This seemed like an anti-review of your book, as I’m now dissuaded to read anything about multiculturalism.
Would the technology industry be different? And what can the technology industry do now to avoid repeating the mistakes…techcrunch.com
Graphics by Hannah Fairfield. Produced by Rodrigo de Benito Sanz. Correction: December 23, 2014 An earlier version of…www.nytimes.com
Recently, I stumbled upon some articles — likely written by folks not so bright as to heed your advice on ignoring multiculturalism — who wrote about you in relation to race, gender and homosexuality, and it got me curious. As a person of color but a fan of your sage wisdom, I was wondering if you could ease this smoldering cognitive dissonance. Twitter, statistics, research and even my own personal experiences suggest that racism isn’t a myth and diversity should be fostered. But now I’m quite unsure, so I wrote this open letter, hoping you, your staff or someone else might respond.
“At Stanford and beyond, the campaign to impose ‘multiculturalism’ amounts to nothing less than a war on Western civilization and, beyond it, a war on the very idea of civilization.”
I perhaps love this wonderful foreword to your book and I apologize if you’ve felt that we multiculturalists have provoked a thought war … versus perhaps an actual physical colonization. You see, I’m from Canada and unwittingly, a socialist. Though American now, I will say that my inclusive and equality leanings often get the better of me.
I’m curious if you’ve heard of perhaps Eastern civilizations? India for example has produced many marvels of art, music and maths. We of course welcomed Western civilizations with open chests, perhaps even chests of gold. While it’s true things didn’t work out so well for us with colonialism, I don’t know that I’m willing to go to war about it with multiculturalism. I take it quite seriously when you say “a war on the very idea of civilization,” as I would dread anything less than this Western civilization I call home.
Q1: How do we end the “War on Civilization?”
“What’s gone wrong? The basic problem is that a racist past cannot be undone through more racism. Race-conscious programs betray Martin Luther King’s dream of a color-blind community, and the heightened racial sensitivity they cause is a source of acrimony and tension instead of healing.”
The Case Against Affirmative Action
I’m not sure if it was your intention to #ReclaimMLK, but I believe the hashtag was meant to perhaps provoke a different interpretation of his writings. Perhaps you’ve conflated affirmative action with racism. What do you make of companies disclosing their race and gender profiles while undertaking efforts to increase representation.
Q2: Should I worry that workplaces which promote diversity will only worsen racism and sexism in the industry?
“…Perhaps the real problem with affirmative action is that we are pretending to solve a problem that no longer exists. Moreover, there is a growing sense that if affirmative action has not succeeded in ending discrimination after 25 years of determined implementation, then perhaps it is time to try something else.”
The Case Against Affirmative Action
I’ll take you at your claim that Stanford’s admissions are not racist, despite research on implicit association biases in hiring, housing, financial loans…even sensations of pain! But as you suggest, discrimination no longer exists in Silicon Valley. Might it be that affirmative action has helped remove it? In India for example, affirmative action has seen the inclusion and rise of lower castes into power, which would have otherwise been impossible. I’m of an open mind so perhaps India is outdated and “it’s time we try something else.” I’m sure you’ve put a good deal of thought into this by now. I would simply love to hear your marvelous solutions.
Q3: How do we solve the problem of racism and sexism if it doesn’t even exist anymore?
I have not yet purchased The Diversity Myth, though you’ve raised my intrigue and whet my appetite for your book with chapters such as:
Christopher Columbus, The First Multiculturalist
Multiculturalism as Conformity
The Victims Curriculum
Race and “Institutional Racism”
Busy Doing Nothing
Duping and Duling
The Culture of Blame
Q4: Perhaps you would send me a copy of your book so I may continue this inquiry further.
Dominic Vikram Babu
An aspiring monoculturalist
This essay was written one evening shortly after MLK Day to bridge the misunderstandings between Silicon Valley & it’s “Multiculturalists.”