Russell Taylor: In praise of people

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee recently threatened the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League with intrusive legislation unless it becomes more ‘diverse’ and ‘inclusive’. If football clubs were embezzling fans or people trafficking, I’d be in favour of legal action, but there’s nothing indisputably right and proper about diversity and inclusiveness, and no reason why ministers should be sticking their noses into the affairs of private individuals who fail to share their values.

It’s ironic that football is so often accused of racism and all those other prejudices that keep liberals up at night. Thirty years ago, football clubs were openly racist, with chairmen, managers and fans making no secret of their preference for English players. It soon became apparent that excluding skilful players on the basis of their colour was counterproductive. Consequently, more and more black players came into the game, and through familiarity and admiration for their talent, racism towards them melted away. All this was achieved by the kind of people our elites regard as knuckle-dragging bigots, without the aid of positive discrimination or anti-racist witch-hunts.

Despite this, football continues to be treated with suspicion by our elites, which probably says more about their perception of the game’s supporters than any valid fears about racism. The prejudices of our elites play to their own sense of moral superiority, and support a narrative that justifies them extending their power over infuriatingly free-minded citizens, ostensibly in defence of oppressed minorities. That their obsession with fads like diversity and inclusiveness promise to drag us away from a meritocracy towards a caste system doesn’t trouble them one iota.

To demand diversity and inclusiveness in any enterprise is to say that a proportion of its participants should be chosen because they are the kind of people who suffer most from a lack of diversity and inclusiveness. In other words, the defining quality of such people should not be their aptitude or personality but their membership of a designated victim group. Those assembled to perform a particular task should not be the best people for the job, but merely a rainbow alliance of different races, genders, physical abilities and sexual orientations.

This assumes that individuals identify themselves according to their victim group allegiance (should they have one), and will experience a debilitating sense of alienation if their group is not properly represented in any gathering of people. Apparently, they cannot relate with others on the basis of common interests, values or ambitions. It is the thing about them that has historically attracted adverse discrimination they wish to be respected for, judged on and identified by.

If you’re against bigotry you should favour people being judged on what they can do, on what they bring to the table, rather than on some largely irrelevant feature about them, such as their colour. But a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness means highlighting that very irrelevance and insisting it become a person’s defining feature. However good your intentions, treating a black person as black first, and a person second, is racist.

The belief that diversity and inclusiveness are indisputable virtues deserving of government enforcement is clearly contentious. So why not let people make up their own minds? If I want the staff at my business to mirror our diverse society, and to hell with their quality, that should be my decision. But if I prefer to employ people on the basis of their ability alone, I shouldn’t have to endure morally-outraged ministers threatening me with legal action.

The reason this choice is off the table is down to moral relativism, which tells us everything is subjective, so there are no grounds for describing anything as better or worse, meaning a person’s character and talent should be irrelevant to their prospects. Once you believe this, the only explanation for disparity of outcome is prejudice against some conspicuous difference in certain individuals: their race, creed, sexuality and so on.

Despite having little connection to observable reality, relativism has long seized the imagination of our elites, who allow it to inform many of their preferred policies. Whether they do this is because it is politically expedient, because their non-judgmental zeal makes them feel good about themselves, or they are just intellectually confused, is a moot point. What really matters is that once you let relativism influence your thinking, you quickly come to the conclusion that things like diversity and inclusiveness are unarguable moral imperatives that deserve to be shoved down people’s throats.

2 comments on “Russell Taylor: In praise of people

  1. Nick
    April 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    I sadly agree with the writer. I thought by now that six form debates would be consigned to the dustbin of history but socialism never dies it seems…moral relativism!! Ho and indeed hum!

  2. zbcustom
    April 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    Naturally the logical conclusion to all this nonsense will be a demand for a representative number of one legged footballers. However it is unlikely that another “inclusiveness” measure that I espouse will ever become fashionable amongst this set. That would see the abolition of women only sporting competition. If women believe that they are entitled to the same prize money as men at, say, Wimbledon, then let them compete in an open competition. It may seem harsh but this same line of fuzzy thinking would see the abolition of the Paralympics and other restricted entry events. If a two legged man (or woman) wanted to play basketball in a wheelchair, what’s to stop them if this line of thinking goes full cycle?

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